T+L gets cocktail tips from Colin Field, the best bartender in Paris.
Some say he’s telepathic. Walk into the Hôtel Ritz Paris’s legendary Bar Hemingway on any night, and head barman Colin Field will reveal his uncanny talent for divining what you’d like to order, be it a stiff Sidecar or a peach-nectar Bellini. “Being a bartender is all about communication,” Field says. Witty and gregarious, the expert mixologist has become synonymous with the bar itself, a lively Right Bank spot whose 90-year history of high-profile patrons includes Coco Chanel, Truman Capote, and Kate Moss (who happens to be one of Field’s closest pals). Born in Rugby, England, 80 miles north of London, Field had clear career goals from an early age: at 14, on his first trip to the City of Light, he knew he wanted to be the quintessential garçon. It’s been three decades since he moved to Paris, and Field has become something of a cultural ambassador for France, speaking French as rapidly and animatedly as he does English, and having traveled everywhere from Mumbai to Bratislava to share his expertise and promote the French ingredients he so obsessively sources for his own memorable concoctions, such as the Serendipiti—the drink he calls “France in a glass,” made with Calvados, champagne, and bittersweet apple juice. Still, he’s deeply rooted in the cozy Rue Cambon space he’s decorated with his collection of vintage gramophones and typewriters. Of a career that’s newly in vogue, Field says, “I’m in love with bartending. It’s a vocation—and a serious business.” Drinks for two $80.
Top Tips for the Perfect Drink
Rule 1: The caliber of your cocktail is directly proportional to the quality of your alcohol: Take time to understand its origins.
Rule 2: Keep your drinks simple, with no more than three ingredients—one alcohol base, one perfuming agent, and one body.
Video: How to Make the Perfect Cocktail
The Ritz, Paris
An institution since 1898, the lavish, opulent Ritz—near the Louvre museum and Tuileries gardens—has maintained its stature as one of Paris’s leading hotels despite a plethora of trendy newcomers. Of course, not everyone can claim the Ritz’s history: it was the world’s first hotel to have a private bath in every room, and everyone from Edward VII to Coco Chanel has called it home (in Chanel’s case, for 37 years). The hotel is undergoing massive renovations and will be closed until summer 2014, but Belle Époque touches will remain. Swan-shaped, gold-plated faucets grace the tubs; a surfeit of period Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Empire furniture fills the rooms; and thousands of euros worth of flowers scent the air each week. Traditional white-glove service, a Roman-style pool ringed with columns, and a Michelin-starred restaurant only add to this lap-of-luxury experience.