Paris finally embraces the mixed drink

Words by Nico de Soto

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Paris has never had the reputation of being a city where you could enjoy a good cocktail. Sure, you could get a cobbled together Mojito in most places but the only venues who knew how to use a shaker or a mixing glass were hotel bars like The Hemingway Bar at the Ritz with the exception of the infamous Harry’s Bar near Opera, Le Forum, China Club and Buddha-Bar.

In 2007 I returned to France from spending time in Australia, where I'd been drinking at spots like Black Pearl and Der Raum - bars which opened my eyes to the possibilities of the heights which could be reached. Expecting to return to the same old standard in France, I was surprised to hear a new place that had just opened: Experimental Cocktail Club. The owners had spent time in New York and realized there was no bar in Paris flirting with the level of the Big Apple. The 'speakeasy-style' of their first venue was a huge success and it started a trend in the city. They opened almost back-to-back Curio Parlor and Prescription Cocktail Club, changing the landscape of the Parisian scene forever.

Then came the second wave. Carina Soto Velasquez Tsou and Joshua Fontaine, both my co-workers at ECC and Curio Parlor decided to strike out on their own and opened Candelaria, a taqueria with a hidden bar focusing on South American spirits at the back end of 2011. As with those before them, they have since opened a further two extremely successful venues, Glass and Le Mary Celeste which, along with ECC, form the beating heart of an every-expanding community.

It's incredible how fast the Parisian bar scene extended since then. Most of them by bartenders who had previously worked for the Experimental Group. The Haut-Marais is what East Village is to New York and South Pigalle is becoming the Shoreditch of Paris.

I'm amazed by the quality and diversity of the scene right now and (finally) bartenders really know what they're doing. You can find some intellectual brilliance behind drinks you wouldn't have found in New York or London 5 years ago.

There is now more than 100 cocktail bars in Paris and these are my 20 favorites in alphabetical order:

Beef Club's Ballroom
Buddha Bar
Café Moderne
Curio Parlor
Dirty Dick
Experimental Cocktail Club
L'Entrée des Artistes
La Conserverie
Le Bar at Bristol
Le Coq
Le Forum
Little Red Door
Le Mary Celeste
Prescription Cocktail Club
Red House
Sherry Butt

As a bonus one, Mabel, a rum bar near Montorgueil, will open its door soon, with my good friend, and probably best mixologist in Paris right now, Joseph Akhavan behind it.

Parisian cocktails

Joseph Akhavan (Mabel):
Mabel's Treacle
Garnish: Mint Spring, Cinnamon Stick and Dehydrated Apple Wheel.
Method: Build in a rock glass over ice block and stir and add 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters on top.
45ml Five-Spices infused Santa Teresa Claro Rum
2.25ml Pressed Organic Apple
7.5ml Pommeau de Normandie Christian Drouin
7.5ml Mabel's Pink Cider-Mint Shrub
7.5ml Manzanilla Sherry
1 dash Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe

Arthur Combe (Curio Parlor)
Garnish: None
Method: Shaken
30ml Woska Vodka
15ml Umeshu
15ml Velvet Falernum
15ml Aperol
15ml Lime Juice
1 dash Cranberry Bitter

Carina Soto-Velasquez Tsou (Candelaria, Glass, Le Mary Celeste)
Jardin de Mémé
Garnish: Basil Leaf
Method: Whip + Shake
45ml Green Chartreuse
15ml St Germain
25ml Lime Juice
5ml Simple Syrup
20ml Egg Wite
3 Basil Leaves
2 dashes of Pernod Absinthe

Maxime Hoerth (Le Bar at Bristol)
365 Cocktail
Garnish: Lemon Zest and Peacock Feather
Method: Mixing Glass
15ml Cognac Lheraud Grande Champagne 1975
10ml Blossom Honey Syrup (from the roof-garden of the Hotel)
3 dashes of Homemade Spiced Nuts Bitters
100ml Champagne Vergnon Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut
Rob McHardy (Green Forest)
Dirty Margarita
Garnish: Lime Zest
Method: Shake
50ml Ocho Blanco Tequila
20ml Cointreau
20ml Lime Juice
5ml Agave Syrup
4ml Caper Juice

Pierre-Marie Bisson (Experimental Cocktail Club)
L'Ecume des Jours
Garnish: Pinch of Smoked Salted and Fennel
Method: Muddle, Whip, Shake
50ml Rittenhouse 100 Rye Whiskey
20ml Lemon Juice
15ml Penja White Pepper infused Yellow Chartreuse
15ml Agave Syrup (1:1)
2 dashes Scrappy's Celery Bitters
2 inches piece of celery muddled
25ml Egg White

Carlos Madriz (Le Mary Celeste)
Bitter Sling
Rock Glass on Crushed Ice
Garnish: Mint Head and Orange Twist
Method: Shaken
25ml Fernet Branca
25ml Gran Classico
20ml Lemon Juice
10ml Capillaire Syrup
5 Mint Leaves
3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Frederic Le Bordays (Artisan)
Sweet Gangster
Garnish: Viola Flower
Method: Dry Shaken and Shaken
50ml Rye Whiskey
20ml Lemon Juice
15ml Simple Syrup
15ml Crème de Mûre (Blackberry Liqueur)
10ml Niepoort Tawny Port
20ml Egg White

Scotty Schuder (Dirty Dick)
Fatboy Julep

30ml Plantation OG Dark Rum
30ml Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
15ml Velvet Falernum
15ml Simple Syrup
4 dashes Bittermen Tiki Bitters
8 Mint leaves
8 Coriander leaves
Top with 15ml Plantation Rum Overproof

Joseph Biolatto (Bols)
Black Sazerac
Garnish: Lime twist, Licorice Stick and Absinth Spoon
Method: Rinse Rock Glass with ice with 6 dashes of Antésite Licorice-Aniseed Bitters. Discard, keep the flavored ice, add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir.
50ml Spanish Brandy 10yo
15ml Crème de Cassis Bols
2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach Bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers Classic Bitters.

Sullivan Doh (Sherry Butt)
Garnish: Orange Zest
Method: Shaken
35ml Diplomatico Blanco
10ml JM White
25ml Lime Juice
20ml Champagne Syrup (1:1:2 Champagne:Water:Sugar)
5ml Orgeat
2 dashes Scrappy's Orange Bitters

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