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Friday, July 1, 2011

Oriental Express Cocktail Adventures: Wagon Bleu

Wagon Bleu
7 rue Boursault
75017 Paris
01 45 22 35 25

In the course of 52 Martinis research, I frequent a lot of bars that get good buzz. But sometimes I like to try a wild card in hopes I'll find an undiscovered treasure. I hadn't heard anything drinks-wise about the Wagon Bleu. In fact, I hadn't heard anything about it at all. But, when I stumbled across it online, two things drew me to it: 1. It's partially housed in a restored train car from the Orient Express circa 1925. 2. It boasts the 'longest happy hour in Paris!

It turns out that the romantic train car portion is tucked away in the back of the establishment for dinner only. So Matt, Vio, Mel and I settled into the pretty standard cafe/bar front area where Hall & Oates music sets the mood. So, the closest we got to experiencing train-themed drinking was feeling the rumble through the floor of trains passing by on the tracks situated just below the bar/restaurant.

The drinks menu features 11 uninspired "classics" that put me in broken-record mode ["caipis, mojitos, cosmos, sex on the beach, etc., etc.] as well as 5 "specials" that are mojito riffs with a lone Long Island icetea to break up the monotony. Each section features a mystery drink with the Crazy Wagon, which is whatever the barman feels like, and L'Omerta with its claims that "you'll never know" what's in it - and with a name like that might just be a subtle nod to the Corsican slant to their menu. Cocktails range from 8 to 9.50 Euros and they also feature a selection of rhum and vodka arrange at 4 Euros a shot or for the bargain price of 35 Euros for 10.

There is no dry vermouth behind the bar, so I went straight for a margarita instead of the usual. Notwithstanding the gummy-gator garnish, it was better than I expected. For the rest of the evening, we ordered up tapas of tapanade and buglidicci (fried bits of corsican cheese, brocciu) and dabbled with the happy hour menu. From 16h00 to 21h00, prices drop to 4.80€ for a pint of blonde, 5,80€ for a pint of Abbaye and 5€ for a mojito, caipirinha or ti-punch. While nothing exciting, all were acceptable for the price and fueled a fun few hours of over fried cheese.

For the time we spent there, the place started buzzing with local regulars who chatted with the friendly staff. So, while there were no undiscovered treasures in the cocktails or food, the happy hour could be interesting for those in the neighborhood looking to throw back some reasonably priced pints over a lengthy happy hour.

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Anonymous Book Suites at George V Paris said...

This place looks amazing. Full of luxurious style and food. I will have to pay this place a visit for sure! Thanks for sharing

July 12, 2011 at 6:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought this place could be one of the cool spots in Paris, but it has always been ultra crappy.
Too bad.


July 17, 2011 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

i agree...this place could be really cool. love a bit of a downlow vibe, no pretension...if they got something really fun happening cocktail-wise it would be one of those under-the-radar, but in-the-know cool spots (that hopefully people wouldn't use too many hyphens about as I just have!) :)

July 17, 2011 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Sugar Daze said...

My husband and I actually are locals and we've often thought of going to check this place out. I think uncertainty of what's going on inside has always derailed (pun intended!) our plans. Thanks for reporting back and have to admit I'm a bit disappointed to learn there's not more wow factor!

July 20, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

Cat: I was disappointed by the lack of 'wow' as well. I can see it would be cool to kick back on the heated terrace or something and the train car part was cute to look at....but really otherwise it was just kind of okay in there.

July 22, 2011 at 3:20 AM  
Anonymous Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

Sounds like it has a lot of promise but needs some oomph.

July 31, 2011 at 7:21 PM  

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