Margot Combat Cocktail Club Pop-Up at Le Meurice

Quicktake: Margot Combat Cocktail Club pops up every Thursday night at Le Meurice with DJ’s and table side trolley service from Margot Lecarpentier herself.

Margot Combat Cocktail Club (MCCC) at the luxurious Le Meurice represents a new direction for the city’s high-end hotel bars. While Paris has plenty of awe inspiring 5 star addresses, for years we lagged behind other capital city hotel bars in terms of overall cocktail quality. Luxury hotel bars face a special challenge of staying relevant in terms of beverage programs, but still remaining accessible to a wide range of guest tastes and preferences. Fortunately, Parisian hotel bars are slowly beginning to rise to this challenge. For example, the Crillon which, following a full remodel that physically moved the bar more front and center, has updated their drinks programme and now incorporates guest shifts with bartenders from around the world.  It can’t be easy to walk the line between accessibility and exclusivity, but the current MCCC is another strong example of achieving that balancing act.

The dramatic Dali restaurant in le Meurice is the backdrop for the Margot Combat Cocktail Club

The person responsible for striking that balance is Margot Lecarpentier. Just as it’s been interesting to see hotel bars evolve, it’s been equally interesting to watch Lecarpentier’s career evolve. Beginning with a detour from her planned legal career in the music industry to bartend at Experimental Cocktail Club Paris, to co-owning Combat bar, to more recently becoming head mixologist for the Alain Ducasse group. It’s gratifying to watch a master in the culinary world like Ducasse recognizing, nurturing, and teaming up with a new generation of talent, and that juxtaposition and interplay comes through in the popup. 

Margot’s version of the cosmo elevates 90’s version to something more sophisticated

For MCCC, Lecarpentier created a menu that’s modern but still delivers something recognizable. Eight cocktails – one of which is non-alcoholic – take inspiration from the familiar drinks like a Vieux Carré to the well-known but quasi-kitsch of the Cosmo, Espresso Martini, or Midori Sour ranging from 24 to 42 Euros. All of them have been remastered to deliver the same sensations as the original, but in a more elevated way, using high quality ingredients and creating a dialogue with the restaurant chefs Amaury Bouhours and Clémentine Bouchon. Lecarpentier’s Cosmopolitan transcends its 90s origins with saffron-infused bitterness and Japanese sake, making it much more sophisticated than its Sex and the City counterpart, but still equally quaffable.

A healthy dollop of caviar compliments the Bamboo Martini

There’s just so much cool juxtaposition and interplay running throughout all of this project that goes beyond simply the collaboration between new trends and old tradition. The Bamboo Martini, made with sherry, vermouths, barley shochu and a touch of kelp, is a pale gold color and served in a wineglass – as a result the expectations from the visuals vary from the actual flavor, adding a further interesting aspect. The interplay with the kitchen comes with the edible bites or garnishes, like a Kristal Gold caviar bump for the Bamboo Martini, a barbecued oyster with the Old Carrée, or fried sage with the Negroni Framboise. Rather than taking place in the hotel’s Bar 228, the popup happens in the Restaurant Dali named for the avant-garde painter, giving another little nod to something new and fresh, but also established. 

While these drinks would be nice in other bars, it’s really a creation to be experienced within this particular context. Lecarpentier has the experience to know what a particular audience will expect and the talent to deliver something that is both accessible to the globetrotter passing through the hotel on high-flying business to the demanding cocktail connoisseur like myself. The creations are both recognizable and unique – and that’s a tricky balancing act. 

The full experience includes DJs, a selection of sharing plates, and tableside service for three of the cocktails by Lecarpentier herself. This further plays on the overlap between kitchen and bar, giving a feel of sitting at chef’s table for a front row, intimate view into the gustatory creations. And, when Lecarpentier puts on the delicate white cotton gloves to load the oyster shell spoon with caviar for the Bamboo Martini, it feels she’s doing something very personal and special just for you. And, that’s what this level of luxury is all about. 

It’s a pleasure to see an historic and lovely location revitalized by the Margot Combat Cocktail Club, every Thursday from now through 18 July. Get there before it’s gone.

Le Dali at Le Meurice
228 Rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris

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