May 2012

French Connection

Three cocktails from Pour Vous prove France has the stuff to mix it up with the best of ’em  by WYATT PEABODY / photographs by PEDEN + MUNK

  • General manager Steve Livigni
  • Hand chipping for perfect cube
  • The Ménage à Trois, a twist on the classic American Trilogy
  • Head bartender Dave Fernie
  • Kina Crusta, the perfect palate cleanser

Apart from the brief flicker of greatness in the annals of Gallic mixology—Frank Meier’s bar at Paris’ Hotel Ritz, circa 1921—France has largely had a dismal reputation when it comes to cocktails. But it is the one shining moment bar wunderkinds Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix, of La Descarga and Harvard & Stone fame, wish to emulate in their latest endeavor, Pour Vous, a premier bar based on French spirits.

More than a year in the making, Pour Vous’ drinks are divided into five categories: Apéritifs, the perfect way to whet the appetite; Parfum, sexier, feminine aromatics; Potion, stirred-cocktails with masculine undertones; Santé, a nod to the health conscious; and Par Avion, which draws inspiration from Franco-influenced Vietnam, Polynesia, Africa and Martinique, among others. The menu to accompany the libations includes oysters, French cheeses and artisanal chocolates.

The interior of the lushly romantic spot, in the onetime Forty Deuce space on Melrose, pays homage to French design and detail, with nods to various epochs along the way. The music might oscillate between Charles Trenet or Serge Gainsbourg and cheesy mid-’90s Eurochic that one might recall from discos in the south of France. “It’s the sort of thing that feels cheap and sleazy but in a really good way,” Livigni notes. “The entire experience should stimulate you on a different level.”

KINA CRUSTA

The bright-bitter citrus mix of this apéritif is a great palate cleanser, and it’s lower in alcohol than a traditional cocktail.

3 ounces Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Campari
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
½ ounce Pierre Ferrand cognac
Grapefruit twist for garnish

In a shaker, mix ingredients vigorously with a Kold-Draft ice cube (or any 1½-by-1½-inch ice cube) until the cube disappears. Pour into wineglass with a sugared rim. Garnish with grapefruit twist.

MÉNAGE À TROIS

A French twist on the classic American Trilogy cocktail: Calvados replaces the applejack, and cognac substitutes for rye whiskey. All in all, a rich cocktail suited to manly tastes.

¼ ounce club soda
1 lump Perruche cane sugar
3 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
1 ounce La Pommiere Calvados
1 ounce Bache VSOP cognac
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon and orange peel for garnish

In a double old-fashioned glass, muddle sugar with bitters and 1/4 ounce club soda. Add spirits and ice, and stir.

LAPIN FOU

Carrot juice, an unexpected and seldom used ingredient in mixology, adds body and flavor to what has to be the closest thing there is to a health-conscious cocktail.

1½ ounce Poire Williams Eau de Vie
¾ ounce fresh carrot juice
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¼ ounce yellow Chartreuse
¼ ounce house-made ginger syrup (recipe below)
¼ ounce Martinique cane syrup
Cucumber ribbon for garnish

GINGER SYRUP
Mix one part double-pressed fresh ginger juice to two parts superfine, not powdered, sugar.

Pour all ingredients into a shaker, add ice, shake and strain over chilled coupe glass to remove any solids. Garnish with cucumber.