Discovering Hemmingway and Perrier Jouet Anniversary Surprise

After a disappointing dinner at Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos, Paris once again showed me its magic. Or, more accurately, Perrier Jouet did.

We went from dinner to a place I had yet to go to in Paris, even though it is one of the most famous – especially in the cocktail world. It was more or less the “home” of the infamous Ernest Hemingway. The bar that bears his name is in the Ritz Carlton and it was nothing like I expected. In what would probably be referred to as a “hole in the wall” if it were any place else, this tiny room holds no more than two dozen. What it lacks in stature, however, it makes up for in elegance and in some very creative cocktails.

Our group was treated to a selection of highly priced (around 30 Euros a drink) concoctions by the gracious representatives of Perrier Jouet, who understood our need to have a little break from the bubbly.  I actually tried three of the mixtures, favoring the first, Serendipity. It was a combination of Calvados Pays d’Auge le Compte (an apple brandy), with Apple Juice, Champagne, and a bit of sugar, though it wasn’t at all sweet. I followed it with a Highland Cream, the bar’s version of their own Bailey’s Irish Cream – Scotch Whisky, Coffee Liqueur and Cream.  It was tasty and certainly not as strong as the one drink I didn’t finish.  The Ritzini was a martini made of Fresh Ginger Root and Absolut Vodka, which had gone through a three month maturation.

Needless to say, I slept well my first night in Paris and in the morning I was ready to head to Galerie Perrotin for a first look at the Perrier Jouet anniversary creation by Daniel Arsham. The contemporary artist, an American, was commissioned by the house to produce something unique and memorable for the champagne’s 200th anniversary and he certainly did. It’s a beautiful resin piece, full of carvings representing the company’s trademark flowers. Actually, it is two pieces, equally beautiful together or apart, but part they serve a special purpose. Each holds a magnum of champagne and, in a testament to the legacy that is Perrier Jouet Champagne, one is to enjoy now and the other is to be passed on and enjoyed in 100 years.

The art was to be unveiled at the anniversary gala and then the 100 pieces – all numbered and hand signed by Arsham – would be sold. The cost of ownership of this piece of history and art is $10,000 Euros, Each comes with two magnums of 1998 Belle Epoque Champagne, chosen because the house believes the year points out the consistency of their champagne and has a good capacity for aging well. Also included in the selection is a Life Journal so that you may pass along your thoughts on the champagne (or anything else you wish) to the recipient of the other half. I must say, it was quite impressive and, if I had $10,000 Euros to spare, I would be in line to purchase one.

After looking through some more of the museum’s very modern art, we headed to lunch at Stella Maris.  It more than made up for the disappointing meal at the Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos the night before. Unlike that chef, who has no tolerance to people with allergies and -- despite having a restaurant with a full menu -- thought it alright to throw some steamed, unseasoned vegetables on a plate as a substitute – Stella Moris provided an excellent meal and wonderful substitutes to the fish.

We all started with some tasty cheese puffs before I had a wonderful Foie Gras and Ham en crust and then perfectly cooked Beef Cheeks in a delicious sauce. I also had my first Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Rose (2002) at Stella Moris, which is a nice mix of floral and fruity, and the driest of the champagne’s offerings. We finished the meal with a marvelous dessert that was a unique combination of Crème Brulee and Meringue before it was time to head back to the Westin Hotel to get ready for the Perrier Jouet 200th Anniversary Gala at Beaux-arts de Paris.


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