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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cocktail Shopping Adventures: LMDW Fine Spirits

LMDW Fine Spirits
6 carrefour de l'Odéon
75006 Paris

Since opening its doors a little over a year ago, the LMDW Fine Spirits has established itself as the premier spirits shop in Paris. Always a good bet for hard to find alcohols; this is one of my favorite stops for a bit of boozy shopping. And, now they’ve got something new to boast about with their recent foray into aged cocktails.

LMDW Fine Spirits is a slick and modern three level bottle shop run by a knowledgeable team of spirits experts and enthusiasts. With a range of over 1,500 different offerings (including a large selection of bitters), capable staff and sampling opportunities, it’s hard to get out of here without dropping a bit of cash.

More than just a high-end boutique, LMDW Fine Spirits actively engages with their clientele through both paid and free events and tastings for new or unusual spirits. Their Cocktail Corners – brand-sponsored ephemeral bars – give customers a chance not just to discover different products, but see how they might be used in cocktails.

And in keeping with recent cocktail trends to hit Paris, they are now offering aged cocktails. Although this is not the first we’ve seen of aged cocktails in Paris – newcomer L’Entree des Artistes is doing it as well – this is the first time we’re seeing them for sale by the bottle or barrel.

They’ve just tapped the first batch of various cocktails which includes classics such as Martinez, Manhattans and Negronis as well as new creations like the Harvard and Botzaris. The five liter rum and cognac barrels come from Pierre Ferrand. The finished product can be purchased by the bottle or barrel – which I think would be a fun way to go for a classy cocktail party at home. For those who want to try their hand at aged cocktails, I believe you can purchase the barrel and get enough input to give it a serious go.

Overall LMDW Fine Spirits is my go to for when I’m looking for the whole cocktail shopping experience: large selection, dependable advice and excellent service all wrapped up in a pretty package.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Snow Globe Cocktail Adventures: Hilton Bubble Bar

Hilton Arc de Triomphe Bubble Bar
51 rue de Courcelles
75008 Paris

For some festive fun, the Hilton Arc de Triomphe has installed a Tattinger sponsored ephemeral champagne bar in their courtyard. From 1 December to 15 January guests can enjoy swank sipping inside a snow globe.

In this unseasonably warm winter, faux snow and Christmas trees add a welcome holiday feel. Within, it's a white, light, bright winter wonderland. Fake fur throws cover ample sofas and warming rugs are tucked beneath each table in case you need something extra cozy under which to snuggle.

For this type of operation, I appreciate the simplicity of the one and only drinking option: Champagne. There are three choices: Tattinger Brut Reserve (20 Euros), Tattinger Rose (21 Euros) or Tattinger Brut Millesime (28 Euros). For a few Euros extra, add on the "bulle fraicheur" (barsnack in a ball.) On my visit the bulle was a bread stick wrapped in a thin slice of duck breast on a generous mound of mascarpone dip.

The space holds a maximum of 35 guests at a time and has a no-reservations policy. Going at opening (18h00) means you'll enjoy the place in relative peace. Later it gets livelier with larger groups - and more fun with sound. The acoustics of the bubble are those of a whispering gallery: every conversation is amplified and sounds moves about the space in strange ways. Friendly doormen carefully monitor entries and exits via the two door system to make sure one door remains closed at all times. Apparently if both doors are open at once, the dome deflates!

So, if you need a holiday spirit hit, this is it.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Old Fav Cocktail Adventures: Prescription Cocktail Club

Prescription Cocktail Club

23 rue Mazarine

75006 Paris

Tel: 01 46 34 67 73

One of the reasons I write about nearly every place I visit - whether good or bad - is that I don’t want readers to assume that if a bar is not on the blog it's bad by default. But there's been an omission on my blog for much too long, which I must rectify because 52 martinis is not complete without it: Prescription Cocktail Club.

I visited Paris’ third ECC bar shortly after it opened and was pleased to see they maintained the same level of quality and service as their first two ventures (Experimental Cocktail Club and Curio Parlor.) I sidled up to the bar often and chatted with charming and capable bar staff - frequently staying much later than I had initially planned. So how could it be that after so many visits I hadn't garnered material for a post? The fact is I kept it as a go-to spot where I could kick back with a cocktail and leave the notes and picture taking behind.

And that's what makes Prescription so enjoyable. The trio behind this bar has long-established their cocktail cred so there's no need to constantly survey the service - all you need to do is sit back and trust that your drink will be well-executed whether a classic vieux carré made with Rittenhouse or a new creation. The menu also gives a nod to well-established cocktail notables with drinks like the Gin Gin Mule à la Audrey Saunders as well as offering up a selection of finger foods.

In fact, the group behind this bar has so successfully established their cocktail credibility that they've branched out into other highly competitive drinking markets with a cocktail bar in London, another in New York and, recently, a fourth Paris venue exclusively for wine.

Prescription oozes the same lounge lover style as their other spots. While the downstairs bar is the perfect place to pull up a stool and watch the bartenders work, the upstairs holds a second bar hidden behind a bookshelf to cater to the bigger crowds on busier nights (and things do get much busier late night and weekends.) Dim lighting and cool decor transport patrons to a clandestine hideaway where it's easy to forget the outside world and responsibilities - even enjoyable ones like writing about said cocktail bar.

So, although there are plenty of pretty fresh faces turning heads on the Paris cocktail scene at the moment, that doesn't mean that a faithful old companion doesn't deserve some attention.

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