37 bis, rue du Sentier
Tel: 01 40 26 14 94
As some of you know, I like to throw around bit of Forest philosophy from time to time. Here’s today’s: You never know if you’ve surpassed your full potential until you’ve failed. I’ll let you chew on that for a bit while I get on with the blog post for my latest adventure at a worthwhile and unique Paris address: La Conserverie.
The entry signage of this two level restaurant/bar is of the subtle variety. Clients are greeted by elegantly eclectic utility-chic decor and dangerously comfy sofas, chairs and sturdy tables strategically grouped around this lounge lovers’ haven.
I started with a well made Hendrick’s martini (of which I forgot to snap a pic) and scanned the large menu, which includes food and drink. Their restaurant hook is interesting: they serve exclusively conserved goodies. While I haven’t sampled the fare myself, word on the street is that they’re selecting from the finest and tastiest, so don’t let that aspect deter you from giving it a try.
But, more to my point: the cocktails. The gin selection offers up some happy finds for Paris such as Plymouth Navy Strength, Hayman’s Old Tom, G’Vine, Citadelle and Junipero. After typical apero choices, there are six house creations (including the Maurizzio, which is a mojito jazzed up with champagne and balsamic vinegar). Additionally there are classics and reinterpreted classics. The more vodka-heavy category is the one dedicated to “strong cocktails” (which includes a Vesper). The menu seems to rely more on fresh fruit, veg, herb and spice than some of my usual stops. Some drinks include whimsy such as a dish of pop rocks on the side. Others incorporate egg-white. Prices hover around 12 to 14 Euros.
Oliver, the marketing manger, is usually on the scene and a friendly, accommodating host-type. And, Timothé, with carte blanche to work the cocktails, is the one making the magic the bar. He’s enthusiastic and passionate about what he’s doing and is working on developing interesting drinks based on fresh ingredients. They’re turning out nice tipples here without just following trends. This low-key locale has already garnered a lot of loyal followers without bold signs and brash advertising.
After a rather lengthy cocktail discussion with myself and fellow cocktail enthusiast, Marco, Timothé offered to create a custom drink to my taste. He took a handful of fresh herbs, crushed them in the glass, dumped them and poured in Juniper. Marco and I both tasted, liked the intent behind it and the choice of Juniper but didn’t declare it a complete success.
Serving someone basically a glass of warm gin is a ballsy move. While not a total failure, it could have been better. And, that’s exactly the kind of move that will take Timothe’s cocktails beyond exceptionally good to exceptionally great. His willingness to take educated risks (in this case based on my tastes & ingredients), listen to criticism and move beyond a comfort zone will allow him to find that point of full potential that you can only reach just before failure – and you can’t get there without a few near-misses.
p.s. Dear Doubters: don’t worry about getting the same cocktail I did. I’m probably the only person in Paris who can rock into a bar and end up with a glass of gin. Trust me. Just go and you will like it.