Why are drinks better and better ?

Le Futiloscope, celebrating Paris Cocktail Week, at Combat, neat Belleville bar, was blown away… Even though we were as euphoric and garrulous as if we’d just had a really strong Moscow Mule, there wasn’t a drop of alcohol in our large glass of “Raison Noire”! Only fresh molasses, syrup of pine bourgeon, Muscat grape juice, lemon and Perrier, all stirred and shaken by a superb blonde.

Has Le Futiloscope given up alcohol (as well as gluten, lactose, meat and sugar)? No, it has simply adhered, as is our duty, to the rising trend of Mindful Drinking, very fashionable with the English, who it’s true, have a long way to go. The idea is to stop being a binge drinker at afterworks or nights out with the girls. You reserve the consumption of alcohol for important occasions, which are celebrated without excess, given that you are “mindful”.

The secondary benefit, not at all negligible, of this millennial find, is that it has spectacularly increased the offer of “alcohol-free drinks”. You remember those syrupy Virgin Mojitos and other bright colored “Mocktails” served with straws? Everything about them was ersatz and the only ones who liked them were children, who love the idea of a Shirley Temple. Over the last year, the cocktail without alcohol is no longer a drink lacking the essential; it’s an intrinsic creation on its own. It receives the intensive care of the trendiest bartenders on the planet, those who love “craft cocktails” .  At Dandelyan in London in the hotel Mondrian, they serve almost 100 cocktails  “without” per night, there are super ones at The Shell in Paris, the cocktail bar at the Grands Boulevards, the new trendy hotel; also at NoMad bar, at the New York hotel of the same name…We’re only talking about hotel bars? Yes, because it all started there. To experiment, what better place where, via nearby kitchens, you can find everything: spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables.

These neo cocktails, to fulfill their function, have to be as sophisticated as their depraved cousins. Not at all sweet, but a tad bitter, or tart or spicy, those things that transform ! It’s for that reason we see all those weird ingredients, like the Verjus (the juice of unripe grapes), or the Cold Brew (cold coffee infused for hours, real dynamite!) And as frequently, ginger, chili, pepper, coriander and lots of aromatic herbs home grown like at Aux Grands Verres, in Paris, or coming from a cult herbalist…With all that, if you can’t find lots of new subjects of conversation between friends and lovers, it’s that you’re not trying!

The other big sponsor of these neo cocktails, let’s admit it, is abstinence. An entire generation who has given up alcohol, treating it as an addiction, especially in the USA, does not want to deny itself the ambiance of bars, it’s understandable. And it’s to an exceptionally gifted teetotaler that we owe Seedlip, the first boutique of alcohol-free spirits. His range of botanic distillates, a hit everywhere as star ingredients of mindful drinks, are without a doubt the gin of the future – Tonic for good?

Photo : Paris Cocktail Week