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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DIY: La Cuisine "Shake it Baby" Cocktail Class

La Cuisine
89 Boulevard Saint-Michel
75005 Paris
Tel: 01 40 51 78 18

This may come as no surprise: I’m a very social person. I love going out, catching up with friends and finding great cocktail bars. However, there are times when I love – just as much – some serious me time. Quiet nights at home are what recharge me and keep me fun, friendly Forest instead of cranky, tired Forest. Friday nights in are my favorite. And, the best part about it: I can still make myself a stand-out cocktail if I so wish. So, what to do if you don’t know how to make yourself something tempting? Take a class, I say!

In addition to cocktail bars, I am trying to get around the various cocktail classes offered in Paris. So, let’s start with the latest: La Cuisine Paris. In addition to a long list of tempting cooking classes (including macarons!) La Cuisine offers “Shake it Baby” – your chance to learn to mix a few tipples like a pro.

For the bargain price of 45 Euros, you can spend an hour and a half in the company of the young, charming, talented, bilingual (& cute…yes, I know I can be superficial...) barman, Fred. Having seen his fine work at le Cercle, I was looking forward to this one. The class covered four different well-known cocktails including two old schools: Martinez & Whiskey Sour (with eggwhite) and two new kids on the block: Tommy’s Margarita of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco and the Gin Basil Smash of le Lion, Hamburg (which – in my humble opinion, of course - is one of the best cocktail bars out there.)

I was immediately impressed by the clean, bright and welcoming work space of la Cuisine. And, by happy coincidence friend and fellow blogger, Lindsey, was there to take in some cocktail knowledge as well. Fred did a commendable job of going through the basics (tools and ingredients) and walking us through the prep of each cocktail step by step as our group of seven or so girls each made – and sampled – our own drinks. We even ran overtime a bit, but this didn’t stop Fred from finishing our lesson and we ended with my favorite of the bunch, the Martinez.

While hard-core cocktaillians might find the syllabus a bit newbie, this is a perfect class for those who are starting to dabble in the world of cocktails or just generally curious. However, having spoken to them before the class, it sounds like they are open and receptive to a group’s needs. In other words, get enough people together to sign up for a group class and you just might be able to talk them into something more geared towards your cocktail level and interests.

In short: an excellent way for a gaggle of girls (or boys) to spend a fun and informative afternoon. Or a great thing to do for those of us who like to stay home from time to time but still want a stellar cocktail while doing it.

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Upate: le Forvm

Le Forvm

4 Blvd





Tel: +33

(0)1 42 65

37 86

How can you resist those boys?!

This little bit of blog love is overdue. I reviewed the Forvm quite some time ago and wasn’t non-plussed, but didn’t give it the ravest of reviews either. Over the past year, I’ve been in and out of there and am seriously enjoying it these days in terms of excellent cocktails.

First let’s get the superficial out of the way: they’ve revamped their décor. And, yes, I know that décor has nothing to do with drinks, but I’m digging the new style. It’s a bit fresher but still retains an old-school twist. They ditched the ugly carpet and kept the cool juke boxes.

Joseph, Xavier, Jerome and the rest of this tight team are knocking out some superlative drinks. Within the past few months, they ‘ve put out a new menu that, I believe, appeals to the fashion crowd they seem to be drawing as well as the serious cocktail drinkers. But, they have no problem going off-menu as well. Cocktail prices range from 14 to 25 Euros (with the Tommy’s margarita topping the charts at the 25 Euros mark)

They’re (rightfully) proud of the selection of spirits behind the bar – including Plymouth Navy Strength for those who want a little extra oompf to their martini. They offer an impressive selection of whiskies. I’ve randomly run into a fair number of meetup members who I took there on monthly cocktail meetup – which tells me that people are liking what they do.

Joseph gave an excellent presentation at this year’s Cocktails Spirit in Paris and if you missed that you can watch him play with a bit of fire with a Blue Blazer here. [insert usual disclaimer about not trying this one at home] And, while I haven’t checked into it (but might well soon) le Forvm organizes a Saturday afternoon “Bar School” for the cocktail curious.

This isn’t the place to hit if you just want to knock back anything. Quite simply, the Forvm is a spot for people who are seriously interested in cocktails to stop for a mature, sophisticated sip or two.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wednesday Cocktail Adventures Part II: Sir Winston

Sir Winston
5, Rue de Presbourg
75016 Paris
Tel: + 33 (0)1 40 67 17 37

Sir Churchill was no teetotaller. Stories circulate of his martini recipe involving cold gin and a mere bow towards France. After our mediocre drink at Mon Hotel, we made the short walk over to this big and busy bar- named after the man - to find out how they handle their martinis.

“The Winston” goes beyond English pub decor taking things to a Colonial Indo-Brit level with ample, cozy armchairs and sofas, exotic touches and intricate wood work accents. The two levels and outside tables are generally packed with a solid crowd looking to chat, socialize and escape the higher priced fare generally on offer in this area.

My martini (listed on the menu) was a cold stirred Bombay Sapphire & Martini Dry and a couple of olives. While these two are not my top choice ingredients for a martini, it seems par for the course in a bar of this nature with a less cocktail demanding crowd.

The menu is large and offers a selection of specialties, martini cocktails, champagne cocktails and cointreau cocktails. Although I wasn’t so crazy about the “Do You Mojito?” (basically a mojito spiked with Red Bull and Absinthe). In general, for what they are doing, they’re doing a fine job of it. They’re offering better than average cocktails for Paris with sufficient and appropriate use of ice and a selection stretching beyond the usual mojito menu. And just steps away from the Arc de Triomphe where you often pay a lot more for a lot worse, at 10 to 12 Euros a cocktail the price is right.

They’re open every day and stay open late. The menu has plenty to offer beyond cocktails with an extensive selection of whiskies, soft drinks, tea and food.

No, I won’t make it a regular cocktail destination. But neither will I turn up my nose when someone suggests stopping in. Basically, wanna-be Buddha Bar clients might like the laid back, chill-out vibe here with lower prices and less pretension.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday Cocktail Adventure Part I: Mon Bar

Mon Bar at Mon Hotel
1-3, Rue d'Argentine
75016 Paris
Tel : 01 45 02 76 76

Mon Bar is definitely not mon bar preferé.

Recently my good friend, Cliodhna, was here on a quick visit over from Abu Dhabi. Since Abu Dhabi isn’t exactly rife with cocktail bars, I was hoping we’d hit a really good one for her on a Wednesday Cocktail Adventures. My hopes lasted only until I my martini was delivered.

I entered Mon Bar through the discrete entrance of the not-so-surprisingly named 4 star boutique Mon Hotel. I immediately liked the soft decor in deep purples, plums and browns, ornate but modern chandeliers and the romantic pictures. I didn’t so much like the large screen TV on the wall showing sports.

Their menu is divided into ‘classics’ including martinis, manhattans and sex on the beaches (which will soon be buried at this year’s Tales of the Cocktails) and ‘less classics’, which includes their riff on a French kiss and a treacle, also recently spotted on the Cafe Chic menu. They’ve got a small collection of bottles behind the bar with a gin selection including Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s and Tanqueray.

There are no cocktails prices on the menu, but at the bottom of it a small line proclaims “For lovers, room: 100” When I asked the barman what that meant, he said it was left over from Valentines. If that’s really true, that’s a good deal and I wonder if that means for the whole night or by the hour?! (Bear in mind, rooms run between 300 to 600 Euros a night here) The small menu did list champagne prices at 6 - 14 Euros by the glass and a handful of snack to order like Mon Hamburger or nems.

The barman prepared a stirred Bombay Sapphire/Noilly Prat martini. When placed before me, I realized he must have squeezed a whole lot of lemon juice into it as was cloudy with lots of lemon bits insouciantly floating about without a care for my personal taste. Cliodhna got a Manhattan which she said was ‘fine.’ (What a damning adjective that can be) In search of something positive to say, she did comment that the coke she ordered while waiting for me was delivered with lots of ice!

Matt and Violaine arrived and were told there was no fresh fruit or bottled fruit juices in the house (except for apparently the lemon that went into my martini) which limited their choices somewhat. When pressed further on what he could make, he admitted that he was not actually a bartender. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I think hotels that consider themselves upper market, should always have a real bartender behind the bar. At least when that happened at Hotel de l’Abbaye, they politely & apologetically steered us away from the cocktails.

Matt and Violaine opted for a small glass of wine instead while waiting for us to finish our drinks to leave and try elsewhere. Then we waited, alone, in the bar for our bill. Waited and waited and waited so long that Matt had the opportunity to step behind the bar to pose for a pic.

Even though I liked the space, I won’t head back to Mon Bar for cocktails at 14 Euros. But if you do, do yourself a favor and order a nice champagne and tell them for me one more time: nice hotels should always have real bartenders on staff if they plan on serving decent cocktails!

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