7 rue Frochot
What really makes a bar successful? To answer that, let’s look to Adam, Carina and Josh. Since opening the wildly popular Candelaria, they’ve garnered a loyal following and achieved international industry recognition. There is no question this trio and their team have the necessary cocktail know how. But to keep their barstools busy in an increasingly competitive cocktail environment, they add a little something extra: heart and soul. And, they’ve proved this by opening a second bar that combines pertinent cocktail trends with their own special sauce for something that’s decidedly different from what we’ve been seeing in the city: Glass.
When Glass opened its doors at 10pm on Wednesday, there was already a crowd of customers, friends and well-wishers lining the sidewalk to get a glimpse. Within minutes the place was packed and staff were pumping out drinks. While this was of course lots of fun, to really get a good idea of what’s happening here, I returned early evening the next day. I roped Emma into joining me after running into her at the Don Lee vodka infusion master class at La Conserverie – mainly because I like her company, but a little selfishly, too, as I knew it would provide the opportunity to taste more drinks.
Glass is going the dive bar route and have, appropriately, set up shop in the gentrifying yet still somewhat sketchy area of Pigalle (also dangerously close to my apartment.) I think a true dive bar comes to life organically over time and not necessarily with the intent of doing so. I love a good dive and on entering Glass, one might see just that. But what I see is a bar that’s retained some of the best qualities of a dive (lower prices, laid back attitude, lack of pretention) infused with some of that aforementioned heart and soul. The small space with its matte black walls is down to earth and casual. But, on closer inspection, you discover the elements that make it their own: cast iron lampshades from Japan or custom made acid-washed mirror tabletops from Barcelona. They’re still putting the finishing touches on the deco and will be bringing in a local artist to paint the floor something fun and vibrant.
The lack of pretention extends to the menu. The aim is to deliver quality drinks faster and at slightly lower prices as well as incorporating more than just cocktails. As many of the city’s cocktail spots are eschewing a selection of beer, here you’ll find a wide variety of unusual choices and a section devoted to beer and shot pairings like the Belle & Sebastian (Brewdog 5AM Saint + Monkey Shoulder.) Serious beer lovers can even take a growler of beer to go.
But, we’re here about the cocktails, aren’t we? Glass is the first bar in Paris to bring in trends that have been brewing elsewhere for awhile, like frozen drinks machines that slosh out something above and beyond a mediocre margarita, two cocktails on tap, and a premixed G&T by the bottle. There are an additional four choices in the shaken and stirred category and plans to bring in a reserve menu as they do in Candelaria.
I had already tried and enjoyed a Martinez on tap opening night, so I bored them with my usual request this visit. The spirits selection is small but conscientious. I was torn between taking Beefeater or Monkey 47 for my martini – two very different gins & moods (apparently I was all over the board last night.) When I mentioned this to Sam at the bar, she immediately suggested a dry Monkey 47 with a grapefruit zest. This is why I like these guys: they know and like their products. Whether or not it’s to your liking may vary, but she gave me a good suggestion and I took it and liked it. I’ll skip the part about the chilled glasses, proper preparation and fresh ingredients because I think we’ve come to expect that with this crew.
Between Emma and I, we sampled a good selection of the rest of the menu, including:
Frozen Pisco Punch: I dig that they’re bringing in frozen machine drinks and delivering something more than the usuals. They do a nice job with this one. I don’t personally drink a lot of frozen cocktails because they give me ice cream headaches and they’re usually poorly made. (Although that’s not the case here, so perhaps I could just try drinking more slowly)
Remember the Maine: In addition to the Martinez, this is their other tap option. I really like it, although the punt e mes gives it a bitter kick that might surprise the uninitiated.
Bottled Gin and Tonic: I’m not a huge tonic drinker and am kind of fussy about it when I do go there. But Sam is making tonic in-house and doing a fab job of it. And, they’re using Citadelle, which I think is a perfect choice for a G&T (as opposed to a martini for which I will generally choose something else.) Of note, the gin comes in the bottle with a straw, which means no ice.
As of Saturday, they’ll be bringing in simple food: organic 100% beef hotdogs and home made pickles. I was tickled to find that the buns and pickles are coming from the kick-ass culinary team of Emperor Norton (as well as a garnish or two). Additionally, we’re going to see a fun new bar opening soon just across the street.
So, keep your eye on this space; with the lively Kremlin and Rock’n’Roll Circus just steps away, Pigalle is becoming a perfect metro stop for a rollicking good time bar crawl. I always hammer home about good cocktails, but past posts have shown my interest in the growing popularity of Pigalle, a fun dive, and the return to a goodtime in cocktails. Glass embodies all of those things. I’ll admit, it’s not a bar for everyone. But, that’s what makes it great: it’s a bar with personality and if you like that kind of thing, like me, you’ll love it. Glass will be a hit for a long time to come because they’ve made a hard-earned reputation for themselves. But if you go beyond the buzz and look for that heart and soul, you’ll really understand what makes this place special.