The minstrel gallery may have been empty on a recent Sunday evening at Bar Josephine, but at the other end of the room, the pianist was in full flow. Was it drink-induced legerdemain, or she really launch into Auld Lang Syne as one patron took his first sip of the knockout J’ai une message pour toi (Dalmore Port Wood Reserve, coffee beans and shiitake)? Sipping on scotch whisky has been known to summon the auld country after all. As the late evening clientele began to slip away to their luxurious €3,000 suites, or the wide pavements of the 6ème, the pianist decided to call it a night, and vacated bar stools were returned to a precise angle to the counter. One gentleman’s exit was slightly delayed by his pup’s inquisitive snuffle at something on the carpet, while his glamourous table guest left by another door. How very Parisian a rendezvous… The bar manager is insistent that this is a bar that simply must be known for its cocktails. To rival its old adversaries across La Manche. “There will be no afternoon tea here” he said, with a pointed grin at the Englishman’s love of scones and small sandwiches. There was certainly no tea in sight as the clock ticked round to midnight. Just a solitary traveller nursing a vin de Bourgogne and a Kindle, and well-dressed locals sharing sashimi under the ornately painted ceiling. Outside the door, the cavernous hallways of the palatial hotel display a Gucci bag filled with Chupa Chups, and a YSL perfume bottle stuffed with crushed Schweppes cans. They remind you that this place is fun, but that the boutiques of Saint-Germain are on hand to lighten your wallet. Inside, the bar menu will do the same, but under that ceiling, who cares? Lie back and think of Versailles. Tonight, Josephine. (Hotel Lutetia, 45 Bd Raspail, Paris hotellutetia.com).
6 May 2022 / Bar Reviews