31, boulevard Henri IV
Maria Loca has been open for a few years and is located close enough to Bastille to be convenient, but far enough to take it out of the regular tourist fray. It’s small, quirky and casual with a laid-back vibe and friendly staff. The first time I stopped in just after opening, the place was packed with a lively sex toy party. My latest visit was just a few weeks ago for a checkup and chit chat with co-founder, Mika (Michael Landart).
Here, the focus is on rum and cachaça, which serve as the base for most of their cocktail creations. Mika is well travelled and up on cocktail trends, so he has created a menu that incorporates fresh and house made ingredients and some interesting spirits. Just under 20 cocktail options include long, short and specialties at 11 to 13 Euros. Of note, there is also a small section for his Old Fashioned creations.
Rather than make a martini (you know I raised an eye brow over this…) the staff steered me back to the regular menu. I went for the Sherry Crusta. Sherry is a lighter option for a Crusta than the typical Brandy, so this version would not only be inline with the trend towards lower-octane cocktails but also be a lot more accessible to the more casual crowd that might roll in from this neighborhood. I finished up with the exceptional Woody Wood. This is definitely my kind of drink: a cachaça based cocktail that’s barrel aged for 6 months. This rich but mellow house creation is served in an individual bottle – serve yourself and sip it slowly.
Mika explains that Maria Loca’s goal is to be a cultural center that serves good drinks rather than exclusively a cocktail bar. They not only have a food menu but there are vernissages the first Thursday of each month and live music the 2nd Thursdays. And it sounds like they have a few other plans underway that you’ll surely be hearing about soon.