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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shaken and Stirred Cocktail Adventures: Seven Hotel

Seven Hotel
20 rue Berthollet
75005 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 31 47 52

Most modern cocktail enthusiasts will tell you that Bond had it wrong. But regardless of shaken or stirred, there's no denying the longstanding pop-culture link between the king of cocktails and the super sexy secret agent. So I made my way to the Seven Hotel - home of the 007 Suite and Bond-themed evenings - to see if they shake or stir.

Seven had been on my radar for awhile both for its sleek modern glitz and the fact that Carina Soto Velasquez was doing some consulting behind their bar. However, even with Carina's added cocktail cred, I still wasn't hearing wildly enthusiastic reports from fellow bar-hoppers and industry types. I met up there with Matt, Vio and Amy to decide for myself.

This boutique hotel is busting with ultra glam-kitsch touches and the lounge is no exception. I love the 'floating' glass balls, soft, comfortable high-back chairs and modern bar. However, the lighting level could drop a notch or two to take it from bright hotel-bar to something more worthy of a sexy evening tipple or cocktail tryst.

My (stirred) martini was well-made and my only issue with it was self-inflicted. I had requested Citadelle for a change. The drink was good but affirmed once again that Citadelle is not my preferred gin for a martini. I like Citadelle, but I think it's better suited for a G&T - and that's, indeed, how they offer it on their cocktail menu. Amy and her husband had dirty martinis which they enjoyed. Vio's Caribbean in Wonderland included two kinds of rum and other goodies like fresh lime juice, ginger infused simple syrup and fever tree soda.

Each of the seven cocktails (at 12 - 13 Euros) corresponds with one of the seven themed suites and showcase solid consulting influence. The menu is interesting and varied - using a range of spirits - but still approachable for cocktail newbies who may be used to more vodka-heavy offerings. In addition to the choice, I appreciate the options of fresh juices, interesting bitters and egg white.

Another thing that brought them to my attention is their selection of absinthe. For a small bar that is not dedicated to the green fairy, their eleven choice Absinthe menu is respectable. Although 'cocktails' are offered as an option on the Absinthe menu, the friendly barman seemed to have few ideas and I get the impression that most people who order it here don't bother mixing it with anything but water. He suggested a Green Beast, which while good and refreshing would not be my personal favorite for an absinthe based cocktail.

Ultimately, I like this place. It's a fun address to keep in mind for a glam yet relaxed cocktail. What I assume is Carina's influence in the menu and stock give them a potential leg up over many Paris cocktail bars. My concern is that without the consistent influence of serious bar talent, they will remain simply a sleek and funky hotel bar with good drinks instead of venturing into consistently exceptional cocktail territory. And, I do recommend it for anyone who wants to indulge Casino Royal fantasies by ordering their Vesper - which does come 'shaken, not stirred.'

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