We ended up cocktailing on only one night and went to Experimental Cocktail Club and Candelaria. Both places were fun but creations at both places suffered a bit from "too many ingredients" syndrome. Still, it was a very enjoyable night.
ECC seemed to be the more serious place of the two. When we first arrived, we got out of our cab and asked the doorman if they had room for 4. He asked back "you do know what we do in here, right?" He was entirely friendly but still, I had to fight back the urge to reply smart-assedly to that kind of query. Instead, I said "of course we do and we came all the way from Chicago to check it out." He asked us to wait, ducked inside and returned, saying that there was room to stand but no seating. We entered and found a place to stand near the back end of the bar.
Inside it reminded me a bit of The Whistler, only smaller. Small, narrow space, brick walls, wood-shelved back bar, dim orange lighting. There were 2 bartenders working. One was mixing speedily, with a proficiency that suggested a strong expertise. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in front of the other guy, the one who had to continually refer to the menu while he made the drinks. I didn't care that it was slower but I'm guessing that his unfamiliarlity didn't help the quality of the beverages at all. Drinks were tasty but again, a bit busy and fairly pricey at 13 euros. Here's a look at the menu . . .Experimental Cocktail Club Menu - October 25, 2012
We had a round and because we were a bit hungry, decided to head over to Candelaria for some tacos and some more rounds. Candelaria, located about a mile from ECC is kind of like the PDT of Paris in that it's fronted by a taqueria (instead of a hot dog stand) and the cocktail bar is behind it, although there is no phone booth portal between the 2 spaces. In any case, we arrived at Candelaria just after midnight and the kitchen was already being cleaned up. Bummer. We descended into the bar, which was bustling, alive and thumping with loud music. This was definitely the more clubby of the 2 places we visited on this night. In fact, the bartenders -- Amanda and Dimitri -- were part of the party, bouncing to the DJ'd music as they mixed drinks, and even drinking a bit themselves. It was a party and the entire scene could not have been friendlier. Even though it was very tight in there, the vibe was a happy one. We grabbed a couple of stools at the bar and sampled a few cocktails, which were not as buttoned down as at ECC. Shortly thereafter we shifted over to whiskeys. I ran into some guys who worked at our hotel and we bought each other rounds. Later, our bartenders joined us for a round of Van Winkle Family Reserve Ryes and just as we began to really get our groove on, the lights went on and there we sat in a quiet, empty bar. Yep, closing time in Paris is 2 a.m., which shocked me. We considered hitting some of the other bars on our list (mentioned upthread) but Amanda and Dimitri assured us that they would all be closed, too.
Instead, they offered to send us to a private club. They called ahead to a place called Silencio and informed them that we'd be coming. We got the green light and we did go there but when we arrived we were refused entry because we weren't dressed properly. After an "are you serious?" type of discussion with the doorman (who was wearing a cheap-looking, ill-fitting suit), we gave up and waited for what seemed like forever for a taxi. Oh well.
I'm sorry that we didn't have more time to explore the cocktail scene in Paris. I think it would have been fun to check out a few more places but between the long, late dinners and the 2 am bar-closing time, it would have been tough. The aesthetic was very different than the types of bars I frequent here at home. Drink-wise, they've got nothing on the Chicago scene. By that measure both places we visited would fall into the 'middle of the pack' category here in Chicago. Still, it was cool to be getting our drink on in the City of Light, even if its bars do close up well before dawn.
I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try. --Todd SniderTwitter: ronniesuburban