Quicktake: House Garden is a relaxed bar making some of the best low ABV cocktails in Paris
I’ll be honest. It feels like there hasn’t been a whole lot of excitement or novelty on the Paris cocktail scene lately. Sure, the old standbys are still turning out great craft cocktails and the historic spots are still worth a stop. But, there hasn’t been a lot of fresh inspiration. Maybe there’s just been a stall after confinement and the crazy past two years? Maybe I haven’t been making enough effort to hunt for the hidden gems? Fortunately, I recently found a cocktail bar that tickles me with its fun and fresh attitude: House Garden.
House Garden is a low key, chill cocktail bar with leafy green plants and a minimalist decor. The simple interior feels larger thanks to the floor to ceiling windows running along the front wall, which are often open and invite the buzz of the outdoor world to animate the atmosphere of the bar. Owners, Yann Salentin et Olivier Martinez, (of Steaking and Hoxton, respectively) envisioned a relaxed venue that makes you feel at home. Mission accomplished.
What makes the House Garden menu stand out is the successful focus on low ABV cocktails. We’ve all heard about the trend for drinks that are lighter in alcohol and the bars that feature them. But this seems like the best, most consistent and strongest showing for this style in Paris yet. Perhaps it’s Olivier’s experience in Dubai bringing a more experienced hand to the style, but this menu proves that less can definitely be more.
The current low ABV cocktail menu includes about 10 drinks, at 12 and 13 Euros, with a wide range of base spirits and employing a variety of techniques such as spherification, carbonation, and clarification. The Experience 2.0 starts with a sphere filled with onion vermouth and shitake that you eat before enjoying the drink of Umeshu, dry vermouth and saline solution. I love how the relative simplicity of the drink is elevated by the sphere. And, ‘simplicity’ is not to say this drink is simple or easy to create. This is my kind of cocktail: special without being overly complicated; something that seems easy, but is exceptional because of the invisible work that goes on behind it.
House Garden is intentional in their offerings beyond the low ABV cocktails. Ingredients are seasonal, and many products are local. They feature French brands hard seltzer Fefe and Sassy Cidres. Those that aren’t local are specifically chosen for quality like the London Essence and Fentimans softs and mixers. They feature Brewdog beers and one white, one red and one rosé wine. The food menu includes tasty snacks such as guacamole, burrata and a lovely little charcuterie board. I hear tell that the food and drinks menu may be changing a little soon – though I’m hoping the Experience 2.0 is a stalwart on the menu and doesn’t go anywhere!
House Garden is the kind of new generation Paris cocktail bar that makes me hopeful. The city’s cocktail scene seems to have been going through some growing pains, but it is fortunately maturing beyond the early adopters and mixology flaunters into something skilfully sincere.
8 Rue Richard Lenoir