The streets around Bastille are bursting with bars serving cheap drinks that pull in a young, lively crowd. And while there is no shortage of options, there aren’t many that manage to stand out from the crowd. However, I stopped in at the Café Moderne with my friend Caroline recently, and found they’re well on their way.
While the majority of this bright and busy establishment is taken up by diners, thirsty clients can pull up a stool at the long wooden bar. Red walls add some warmth and the black and white tiles bring some class to the front room, which feels a bit more art deco in style. In the back area, light walls, exposed brick, and quirky signage lend a NYC vibe.
Behind the bar, Mido offers up a chalkboard listing of 9 house creations at 10 Euros that lend an air of ‘mixology’ to the mix without overwhelming. I started with a Beefeater 24 martini, which was not on the menu but nicely done. Caroline went for the Caribbean Shepherd (spiced rum, lemon, brown sugar and amaretto foam). While it was a little sweet for my taste, it’s a prime example of what makes Café Moderne stand out from the neighbors: it’s introducing different drinking possibilities that are a step above the usual without throwing the Bastille bar crowd totally off base. And considering this client base, he’s handling a range of base spirits and ingredients judiciously. I also had a Panchovilla, which is topped with a special selection of seasonings and follows the trend of a tequila based tipple that packs some heat. Caroline finished with the Monkey Julep (as the name would imply, a julep made with Monkey Shoulder).
While the drinks menu might be more accessible than what you’ll find in other dedicated cocktail bars, Mido has the skills to create a classic or go in a different direction for those who want something beyond the basic offerings. And, he seems to have made an impact on the neighboring establishments. While we were there, another bartender came in, cocktail in hand, which he passed to Mido for a taste test and, apparently, some advice. After a brief discussion and a suggestion to amp up the citrus, he left, presumably to continue working on his own cocktail creations at whichever bar he came from.