April 26, 2012
Fresh off the heels of their successes in Paris, London and now New York, the Experimental Cocktail Crew makes its culinary debut in Paris (where else?) with the Beef Club. If you stop by, let us know what you think in the comments! -Geneviève
Just a few steps from one of Paris’s least charming spots (Les Halles) has suddenly appeared one of its most charming. Le Ballroom du Beef Club, the month-old clandestine cocktail den from the team behind the popular hideaways Experimental Cocktail Club, Curio Parlor and Prescription Cocktail Club, leaves no doubt that Paris has arrived as a serious mixology destination. In the space of just a few years, the scene here has evolved from an experimental “cult” to a full-blown cocktail culture—largely thanks to Olivier Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros, and Romée de Goriainoff, the handsome young triumvirate behind the quickly expanding Experimental empire (they have a spot in London and will open their first New York outpost later this month).
This time around, the team has upped the ante. Upstairs, The Beef Club is a stylish steak house (we can’t wait to settle into one of those mid-century modern chairs for a night of carnivorous hedonism), and downstairs, the cavernous Ballroom du Beef Club offers a sensationally sexy setting where you can slip in for an after-work drink or linger into the wee hours of the night.
By 9pm on a Wednesday, multiple groups had already discreetly tucked themselves into the bar’s various dark nooks, and at around 10pm each night, the bar’s second lounge space opens to accommodate the larger late-night crowd.
But in addition to providing a place where many a make-out session will inevitably go down, this is a sophisticated spot where both cocktail connoisseurs and the uninitiated can come to experience the work of skilled bartenders, who can improvise based on a client’s tastes and curiosities.
When we went, we sat at the bar and observed veteran mixologist Inko, whose roguish charm is trumped only by his skill behind the bar (he previously worked at Experimental Cocktail Club China Town in London). His first trick was an off-menu concoction called “Le Temps de Cerises” that he had learned from a former ECC colleague. (It’s this institutional knowledge that has set apart the Experimental bars over the years—members of the team often work at more than one spot, sharing recipes and continually taking the art of cocktails to the next sublime level). A combination of sherry, Peychaud’s bitters, cognac, grapefruit juice, and house-made almond syrup, this drink was smooth and refined, with a perfect balance of flavors and a subtle snap of citrus.
We were also intrigued by the Ballroom’s modern twists on classic cocktails. The julep contained 12-year-old El Dorado rum, Amaro liqueur and fresh mint, and it was a bit bolder than a typical bourbon-based julep—dry rather than sweet, with a bitter finish and strong hit of mint. The Pondicherry Mule seamlessly blended cardamom-infused vodka, Angostura bitters, ginger beer and lime juice, topped off star anise.
During our visit, co-founder Olivier Bon stopped by the bar, where Inko offered him a strawful of whatever he was concocting, like a mother bird feeding its young—assuming its young has a penchant for booze. Olivier explained that he and his partners have always tried to create havens where cocktail-cravers can enjoy sophisticated drinks in cool-but-relaxed settings, where service is friendly and the vibe is open and international.
He’s certainly achieved his goal with the Ballroom du Beef Club, and as soon as we save up a few more centimes (cocktails are 12-15€ a pop) we will definitely be back for more.
The Beef Club
58, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001
Métro: Châtelet-Les Halles, Louvre-Rivoli, Étienne Marcel
Open: Mon-Sat, 7pm-2pm (sometimes later).
- Check out TMagazine’s review of the Beef Club here
- Alex Lobrano stirs up a little controversy with his review
- For more from these cocktails gurus, check out Curio Parlor or the Prescription Cocktail Club
Written by Tory Hoen
After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of Gradspot.com's Guide To Life After College.
Website: Tory Hoen
Tags: Ballroom du Beef Club, cocktails, Cocktails Paris, Didier Gauducheau, Experimental Cocktail Club, hamburger, Les Halles, Oliver Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros, Restaurants Paris, Romée de Goriainoff, steak, The Beef Club, tory hoen
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