Pour one part Beautiful Location, add two parts Gracious Host, with a splash of Trendy Décor.. and shake vigorously until the mist of sweet, sweet memories rises up from this heady concoction, and sends you home wanting more.
It was my first time in La Ville Lumiere, mainly on account of it being the City of Love and although I definitely have loved, I have never been loved, and therefore a visit would have felt empty. However, a rare lining of the planets and a helpful hand from Fate (the European Championships being held here, a couple of cheap tickets from a lucky ballot and a persistent Uncle Tricky), pushed me in the direction of Paris. But, Mother, truly the most amazing thing happened to me whilst I wandered les rues de Paris! What happened next made sure I left feeling truly loved for the first time.
Allow me to set the scene. A wedding in dear Blighty the day before had rendered me useless, both physically and spiritually. We ducked into a quiet café/bar/non-pub to watch the France vs. Ireland game and sunk a fair few Stella Artois whilst regaling stories of youth and tomfoolery. After finishing, we headed towards Dragon et Phenix (I had never been, but my trusty companion who j’habites in Paris knew it well). Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was a huge, warm smile coming from the direction of the bar area. Ah, this must be Ricardo. The ever-pleasant, ever-welcoming star of the show. His hands delicate but powerful. His eyes know precision like none other. Immediately, the fatigue of a hard life lifted from me, and I floated towards the bar-stalls, ready to try what had been described to me (and now proven) as the best cocktails in Paris. Dare I say it, France. Actually, make that Europe.
The mixologist kept the cerebral elixirs coming, thick and fast. A mojito served in a martini glass (sans the vexatious amount of crushed ice you usually have to put up with), that Ricardo squeezes and strains a mint leaf into, and transfigures the clear rum into a beautifully, exotic yellow-green colour. The taste, simply sublime. An Espresso Martini that is silky smooth and awakens the soul within with bursts of caffeine-induced pleasure. A Perfect Manhattan that should force all other bars that serve a ‘Perfect’ Manhattan to just call theirs a ‘Manhattan’. The power that is in Ricardo’s Perfect Manhattan is enough to awaken dormant senses and transport you to a different universe (one that mostly tastes of whiskey and vermouth). And the last drink, well the last drink I can remember at least, was an Old Fashioned. Beautifully crafted and beautifully served, the temperature perfect and the cherry adding subtle, sweet undertones to a heady cocktail. Oh, you Old Fashioned, you wrecker of ships. Oh you turbulent temptress teasing my sensible inner-self; cajoling it into unchartered waters. It rolled me onto the nearby jagged rocks, and left me there, shipwrecked in front of the Phenix’s lair (/one of the couches upstairs).
If I were to recommend one place to go to in Paris, I would not even contemplate The Louvre, or The Eiffel Tower, or the Arc de Triomphe. Non, I would say ‘go to Dragon et Phenix’ and don’t leave. For this place looks into the night sky and does not make comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor well and badly arranged constellations, but instead welcomes all into its heavenly abode. Salut to you Ricardo, make mine a double.
(Many thanks to Jesus, in whom we trust to show us the way to all righteous watering holes)
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