Quicktake: Le Tout-Paris on the 7th floor of the Samaritan is the best of Paris cocktail bars opening for the rentree and features well crafted France inspired cocktails and elevated classics.
The 2005 closure of the landmark 18th century Samaritan store left a dead spot on the cityscape along the river Seine. Naturally, the reopening of this iconic building was THE event of the summer. And in September, its much-anticipated hotel, the Cheval Blanc, opened with 72 luxury rooms and four distinctly different options for eating and drinking in style.
Take the elevator to the very top to the contemporary brasserie le Tout-Paris. This space is big and bright with a primary color palette and lots of natural light. The free standing bar has a chic, rounded yellow marble countertop, dotted with round blue or red coasters. It’s beautifully bold and delicate at the same time. Here, you can also enjoy one of Paris’s best balconies with a breathtaking view over the Seine and the city.
Before cracking into details on the drinks, let’s take a moment to appreciate the sweet little bar menu with its cheery yellow hard cover and binder of options printed on crisp white cardstock with spots of red and blue throughout – basically a reflection of the overall Art Deco bar decor.
The menu features four “Inspiration Francaise” cocktails like the Tramonto, a twist on the French 75, from the French The Cocktail Book by Florian Thireau (Also, the bar manager at Cheval Blanc). My all time favorite, the dry martini, also makes an appearance on the French inspired list, noting its mention by Franck P Newman in 1904 in the French book American cocktails and receiving an interesting twist involving citrus and olive oil.
In addition, there are four “Inspiration Internationale” cocktails comprising mainstream heavy-hitters: negroni, cosmopolitan, espresso martini and the spritz. Don’t be misled in thinking that the ubiquity of these cocktails mean they are less interesting. Au contraire. Florian spent months in the run up to this opening working on these old standbys to develop recipes that were accessible yet elevated. This means your die-hard cosmo drinker won’t be taken too far off course from their expected flavor profile but cocktail geeks can appreciate the better balance thanks to the manner in which the lime is worked into the cocktail and addition of grenadine over cranberry. It’s a drink that’s bright and acidic without being too tart.
Though I tasted and adored many of their cocktails, I won’t break down the rest of the menu as it’s one that’s better discovered in front of a glass than a screen. So I highly encourage making your own explorations of the cocktail menu. The most impressive thing about these cocktails: Florian has created elegant drinks that look effortless, although much effort has gone into creating them. That’s the magic trick of any great host/hostess: deliver the wow factor without showing the work behind it. And, of course you can also order the classics, which they carry out with the same skill and precision.
It’s clear that the personalities behind the drinks programme know their way around a shaker. Beverage manager Sebastien Labe, a sommelier by training, also more recently spent some time deep diving into the world of cocktails and has a solid understanding of what makes them conceptually and gustatorially good. He made a great choice in bringing Florian Thireau on board, previously of Prince de Galles.
It’s not just Thireau’s prior global and high end hotel experience that has helped hone his skills, but also his time travelling and working in places like Reims, Sydney and London that provide a more rounded perspective and palette and ultimately a better command of what works in a drink. He is also smart in refraining from overly ambitious attempts to change the menu frequently, but rather will stick with this well-thought out selection and change in the future only for improvements.
Drinks beyond the cocktails are also interesting. The bar offers “mirrors” (non alcoholic versions) of certain cocktails like the Tramonto. The beer list features local options like Demory and Parisienne. There’s a nice long list of aperitif drinks as well as solid choices in all the major spirits categories, including for mezcal, absinthe and pisco. Want something a little more rare? Try a Chartreuse from the vintage made-in-Spain Tarragona bottlings. Bar snacks include tasty bites like lobster fritters, salmon tartlets, or sharing plates.
In short: le Tout-Paris is the kind of opening that brings some much needed excitement to the city with a combination of design and drinks worthy of a legendary location.
Le Tout-Paris in the Cheval Blanc
8 Quai du Louvre
75001 Paris, France