New Yorker's Guide to Paris: Best REAL Martinis
Okay, one of my main qualms with Paris—Why is it so hard to make a classic vodka martini??? It is a super simple cocktail—it’s seriously only 2 freaking ingredients, vodka and vermouth! Yet, this is somehow beyond the French’s comprehension. And to show that I’m not over-exaggerating, I have even googled the recipe and showed it to bartenders and have gotten something not even close to what I asked for. I even had an argument with one who was telling me the information I was showing him was not correct. I understand there is a martini liquor out there, BUT if you have Cosmopolitans and Manhattans on your menu, you must have heard of a vodka martini. And yes, I know a “REAL” martini is made with gin, but for those of you who know me, gin martinis send me from 0 to 60 in three seconds.
So, If you are looking for a proper vodka martini in Paris, here are my top five. And for you french bartenders reading this, I do have a special section for you at the end.
You have not lived until you have had a Rivkin martini at Hemingway Bar. It’s like tasting heaven over and over again. I have at least one everytime I go there. When I’m feeling like I want a little variety, I have their Clean Dirty Martini for my second, which is epically good with an imported ice cube of olive juice. If I’m brave enough to have a third, I switch back to a Rivkin. I know with all the cocktails they offer there I should try something else especially since Colin Field is a cocktail legend, but to justify my martini consumption with the fact that he has been quoted as the “Matisse of Martinis” by The Observer. He really serves up the best martinis in Paris ,or the world for that matter. And oh, did I mention each martini is served with a rose? IMHO, It’s totally worth the 30€ price tag.
Coming in a close second, is the Josephine Bar located inside the Lutetia Hotel. Their martnis are pretty solid and they have a curated martini menu and pairing! I will note that their martini menu is all gin, the proper way you should drink a martini, but you can of course substitute vodka for any of the variations they offer. And of course, you can just go old school and order a regular vodka martini.
HARRY’S NEW YORK BAR
If you are looking for a more casual vibe and missing NY or the US in general, hop on over to Harry’s New York. Their martinis are just as you remember them tasting back home and sometimes it nice to go where everybody knows your name. The experience here is a little more lively than the other two, but not a dive bar by any means. Enjoy your cocktails and NY fare bar snacks like hot dogs and popcorn, plus mingle with fellow Americans and expats.
For those of you who like a nice member’s club or a nightlife kind of vibe, check out David Lynch’s, Silencio. This place is totally for you if you are in the music and art crowd and trust me, the cocktails do not disappoint. They open at 6 and go till the wee hours of the morning; they also have various members events. If you are not a member, you can try your luck at the door, but only usually works if you are part of the female gender. The cocktails are to die for and their martini is the way I martini should be made, strong and pretty.
I am soooooo glad I was able to add a true brasserie to this list as I have not been able to get a proper martini at any brasserie I have frequented in Paris. Sip Cafe, located centrally in Saint Germain—a stone’s throw from Le Bon Marche, is by far is my favorite and only brasserie that I will order a vodka martini from now on while in Paris.. Their martini is perfection—they serve it in a proper glass and he did not even ask me if I wanted white or red martini in it, AND BONUS… Wait… For…. It…..there was not a trace of white or red martini in my martini whatsoever! HALLE-FREAKING-LUJAH!!
PSA TO FRENCH BARTENDERS
For any other brasseries or bartenders reading this, you may want to visit Sip Café and have them show you how a real martini is made. It will really help your business as I am not the only person with this problem judging from expat group chatter—there is a whole slew of us out there wanting to spend our money at your establishment!!
And if you just want a cheatsheet recipe:
Classic Vodka Martini
3 parts vodka
1 part vermouth
Shaken in a cocktail shaker, or stirred.
A lemon peel or olive to garnish.
Voila, there’s a happy customer and at least 15€ in your pocket! And, you’re welcome.
It. Is. Not. That. Hard.
There will be a follow up to this as I have managed to find most places I can get a proper martini, but feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think I may not have you on my radar!