Category Archives: Liquids

Beaujolais Nouveau 2015

The imminent annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau – no longer a media firestorm in the best of circumstances – may seem, in the wake of last Friday’s Paris terror attacks, about as pertinent as a rubber duck.

In such troubled times, who needs wine? Who needs cured ham and cornichons? Who among us needs to gather with friends and loved ones? Who can bring themselves to purchase inexpensive bottles of glimmery young gamay and share it liberally with neighbors? Who wants to support Paris’ liveliest tradition-minded bars and bistrots when their business has been threatened?

Well, perhaps quite a few of us. Beaujolais Nouveau, ordinarily an occasion for slightly meaningless fun, can become, in 2015, an occasion for slightly more meaningful fun.  >> Read More

Beaujolais Nouveau in Paris

Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau In Paris 2014

Loving the night of Beaujolais Nouveau in Paris is like loving country music. One is constantly obliged to explain oneself. No other genre of wine has been so rightly derided by the international wine press for its superficiality. And yet, as in country music, there remain practitioners of the form whose work attains a sublime simplicity, particularly when experienced in the correct context. In Paris, at the right party, Beaujolais Nouveau is a transcendental event, a cross between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, the one night of the year when an otherwise reserved and miserly population abandons its dime-sized, forward-facing café tables to stand around and sing and offer cheers to strangers. >> Read More

Champagne: A Bubbly Buying Guide

Shopping for Champagne fills me with embarrassment.

Every year, I promise myself I’ll swear off the stuff. There are, after all, dozens of other sparkling wine types available in Paris, all arguably better bargains than the world’s most famous wine. For along with Champagne’s uniquely chiseled acidity and grace, we pay for the fame, the name Champagne. And to find a broad selection of what I’d call serious Champagne – upper-tier cuvées from independent grower-producers, rather than the predictable, cola-like entry-level bottles of the big houses – I’m often obliged to patronise the Paris wine shops I otherwise avoid.

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What To Expect When You’re Cupping

Cupping is an intimate act.

Sniffing, slurping, then spitting one’s coffee in a room full of strangers is an easy way to look crazy, unless one is standing at the tasting table at Belleville Brûlerie. Then it is not only acceptable, but encouraged as part of the cupping process.

The table plays a key role. Cupping, the process coffee professionals use to evaluate the quality of coffee beans and analyze flavors and aromas, requires a lot of glasses and therefore, a lot of space. >> Read More

Beaujolais Nouveau Death March: Our 2013 Report

Having already taken on the unprecedented challenge of publishing (and thereby endorsing) a detailed guide to Paris’ best Beaujolais Nouveau parties, the editorial team decided to put its money where its Mouth is and attend as many as possible in one night.

Meg Zimbeck called it “the Beaujolais Death March”: a tipsy trek from the 14ème to the 11ème. Along the way we met winemakers, shared bottles with strangers, used car roofs as bars, and, completely by accident, obtained actor Willem Dafoe’s opinion on Beaujolais Nouveau (“I prefer full-bodied reds,” he said, before ducking into an anonymous café in an unsuccessful bid to avoid paparazzi).

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The Redemption of Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau is rather like gin – people who won’t touch the stuff usually have a legendarily bad story to tell involving a harrowing experience with the worst product imaginable. At its worst, Beaujolais Nouveau is indeed something less than a wine, a creepy under-aged creation of greenish grapes rouged up with sugar and sulfur. But just as the last two decades’ international cocktail renaissance has redeemed gin for many drinkers, so too does Paris’ booming natural wine scene contain the redemption of Beaujolais Nouveau – a quaff that, at its best, is a dashing, sun-dappled débutante of a wine, a pristine and lively beverage whose unseriousness is a big part of its charm.

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Beyond the Hotel Bar: the Next Generation of Craft Cocktails

“Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares, if you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars,” –Ernest Hemingway

The Bar at Mary Celeste, photo by Meg Zimbeck

The Bar at Mary Celeste. Photo by Meg Zimbeck

Serious cocktail snobs, beautiful bobos, eager expats, and beer geeks alike are buzzing around the octagonal bar at Le Mary Celeste on a weekday night. Bright, airy, young, and fun, the bar is the hub around which the restaurant itself is organized.

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La Moustache Blanche craft beer Paris

Craft beer blows up in Paris

At long last, it’s an exciting time to be a beer lover in Paris.

Until recently, beer drinkers in France who wanted to quaff anything with character had to be content with a limited number of foreign-made beers, mostly from Belgium. The Belgian brewing tradition is long and revered, featuring a wealth of brews in traditional styles. But as devotees of craft beer know, there is more to beer than simple tradition. Microbrewers in the US and UK have been bucking tradition for decades now, and in doing so have revitalized an industry and gained legions of passionate customers. In more recent years, while craft beers have taken off in neighboring countries like Denmark and Italy, France has lagged behind, content with its industrially-made Kronenbourg. That’s all changing. It seems that in Paris, craft beer has finally arrived. >> Read More