Lulu White is a really neat spot; they’re doing three things I’ve never seen from another cocktail bar.
1. No Citrus
This doesn’t sound like much, but it’s totally insane. There are fundamentally two kinds of drinks in the modern bar cannon: citrus driven (think daquiris, sours, margaritas) and spirituous (old fashioneds, manhattans, rob roys, etc.). Every cocktail bar worth its salt juices a bunch of fresh limes and lemons before service to handle the citrus side of the menu.
Every bar, that is, except Lulu White. They still makes drinks with sour components, they just drive them with house-made fermented syrups and shrubs – essentially fancy vinegars. We tried a pair of drinks in this category and they were both outstanding. Fresh, tangy, and balanced, all without touching citrus. Impressive work.
The bartender gave us a sample of the fermented pineapple syrup and it was delicious. Not as sour as a shrub, but tangy and complex.
2. Every Drink Has Absinthe
Every, single, drink.
This is also a crazy challenge for a bar to take on. Absinthe has a lot of weird lore around it, but the key takeaway is that it is an herb infused liquor that typically has a heavy anise flavor. It’s incredibly easy for absinthe to overpower a drink, and cocktails that utilize it well are legendary – try my favorite, the Corpse Reviver #2! Building a full, diverse with distinctive drinks that all incorporate absinthe is a world class accomplishment, even without the citrus handicap.
3. They have a Kombucha Program!
I asked the bartender about the nasty looking jar with bubbling muck on top. He explained that they have a house kombucha culture that they are continually brewing from. It’s basically like a sourdough starter: they make a batch, strain out the bacteria/yeast raft, add new sugar water, and repeat. Again, the bartender gave us samples of the raw ingredients. The tea they’re using has a delightful smoky flavor. I’d buy it if they sold the stuff, and I’m not generally a fan of fermented tea beverage.
This bar was awesome. The staff were super friendly in explaining the drinks and ingredients. Cocktails were inventive and the self-imposed constraints led to some very different tasting concoctions.
While Lulu White did not have the best drinks I tried in Paris (that honor goes to Le Syndicat), they were delicious, and the mad-scientist level of inventiveness is worth a visit in itself.