Quicktake: The latest Little Red Door Paris cocktail menu GROUNDED showcases products from 10 different French farmers.
If you keep up with Paris cocktail news you are likely already familiar with the Little Red Door’s latest menu GROUNDED. This newest cocktail collection showcases ten French producers, their work, their traditions and their passion. Don’t mistake this for a 100% French bar ingredient like Le Syndicat or La Commune, who use only domestic products. Rather, GROUNDED employs a broad palate of ingredients to celebrate the country’s agricultural tradition and showcase one local product per cocktail.
The name not only references the ground from which these products come, but as Little Red Door explains: “The name of this menu is not random. It evokes a layered meaning in our time. The word can mean at once ‘deprived of an exit,’ or ‘forced to land,’ both of which reference the past year’s confinements and the end of most normal activities. It also evokes the notions of being anchored and of a proximity to the earth, of humility—the primary common thread in the creation of this new menu, which brings to life the producers and sublimates their products.”
In other words, Covid confinement allowed the LRD team the time and opportunity to look inward and realize the importance of local cooperation and of supporting French producers. While some of their past menus have focused on loftier concepts like Universal Values or the idea of taste versus flavor, the team boldly went more visceral than cerebral this time with a focus on raw materials. They selected 10 farmers producing 10 different products: lemons, strawberries, walnuts, tomatoes, red kiwis, olives, lavender, buckwheat, crème fraîche d’Isigny and yellow beetroots. They then worked these ingredients into ten specialised cocktails.
The current team (Rory Shepherd, creative director; Alex Francis, bar manager; Barney O’Kane, Margaux Picard and Arron Robe, bartenders) created GROUNDED through a collaborative and experimental process. They began by dividing the raw ingredients between them to create different expressions; for example, a delicately flavoured soda from the lavender. Then they exchanged these newly created ingredients so the final cocktail was created by a different working group. The whole crew vetted the cocktails before the menu was finalised. So, while it may seem pretty straightforward to put out a menu focusing on local farmers, there was more thought and effort that went into the process than meets the eye.
This is a menu that invites exploration. Having personally tried several of the drinks off the menu, you will not be surprised to know that I am a fan of the Tomato, which uses vine tomatoes from Sophie Hardy of Nature Urbaine on the Ile De France with Koch mezcal and Grassy Dolin for martini style straight up cocktail.
GROUNDED also takes things beyond the glass and puts the producers behind the products front and center. As usual the physical menu is an artistic creation itself. Printed on heavy stock with photos of the farmers by Parisian photographer Roman Jehanno. Large format prints of these images are mounted around the bar for an exhibit to accompany the menu during its run. As with past menus, the impressive glassware is unique to each cocktail. And they are not just going local, but working in greener ways of getting the products from the farmers to the bar.
In short: This menu is one of the most grounded menus coming from this well-known Paris cocktail bar – and not just because that’s literally its name. It’s authentic and accessible and positively highlights local producers in interesting ways.
Little Red Door
60 Rue Charlot