Minipalais at the Grand Palais: Paris Cocktails with a side of Culture

avenue Winston Churchill
75008 Paris

One of my besties (and Seattle LUPEC founder), Wendy, came to visit recently. Like me, she’s a bit crazy for both cocktails and cuisine, so we spent several days in a fuzzy food coma. One of our stops was a late afternoon lunch in the much-buzzed Minipalais.

Since being installed in a wing of the Grand Palais, this restaurant and bar has generated some press – notably for its grand terrace. We settled in amongst the enormous and impressive columns of said terrace for our indulgent ladies lunch beginning with what else? A cocktail.

Their menu includes 16 classics (daiquiri, cosmo, manhattan, mint julep, etc.),  6 champagne cocktails (including a negroni sbagliato), and 6 house creations (including a wine-based one) ranging from 13 to 16 Euros. Although there were some interesting choices in the mix and I was hoping for a good drink, I wasn’t expecting excellence due to the location and lunch hour.  While I know some exceptions, I always suspect that restaurant/bar combos save their serious bar staff for evenings when cocktail orders are more likely.

Yet we soldier on.  Wendy’s champagne cocktail came with a dash of cognac.  We’re used to a classic champagne cocktail, but both really enjoyed the extra kick brought about by this variation. The original champagne cocktail has a long history but according to David Wondrich in his book, Imbibe, this “hot rails to hell” practice of adding the cognac was first recorded in 1898.

Enough history. I went for my standard and got a Tanqueray martini with a lemon twist. While I didn’t watch it being made, it was crystal clear and still cold so I’ll assume it was stirred and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality.  While the gin selection offers no surprises, it’s a small offering of solids with Plymouth, Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s, Tanqueray and Tanqueray Ten.

Considering it was lunchtime, we moved onto the business of eating. Otherwise, our first round of cocktails would have likely prompted more exploration. If my martini is any indication, this might not be a bad stop for a mixed drink. And, while there is an indoor bar for when the weather turns sour, the terrace is a lovely place to indulge in the last of the lingering summer days. So, check it out for a bit of culture with your cocktails.

2 thoughts on “Minipalais at the Grand Palais: Paris Cocktails with a side of Culture

  1. last time i was there, about a year ago, we had some cocktails outside and they were nothing special (plus service was sloppy). funny how some places seem irregular…

  2. Columbine: I know…that’s one of the most frustrating things about reviewing. I’ll have to get back in to test again – but I got some emails in follow up to the post saying the really liked it. But I suppose a lot of places have those on both sides of the fence (Harry’s is a big example of that) It’s also the reason I said “might not be a bad stop” because I’m not 100% sure, but I really liked the drinks we got. sigh…. nothing ever seems consistent, though. I kind of feel like with the increasing number of cocktail bars, some are getting a little lazier in general somehow – putting in the extra oompf at times, but other times, kind of ‘meh’. I think consistency is one of the most important things (I rate that even over how new/buzzy a place is or the ambiance) because lots of people are coming to Paris just one time for one visit & it sucks if that one time doesn’t impress. It’s also why I really appreciate reader feedback through comments…I can’t get everywhere all the time, so it helps to get more input. Thanks!

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