If you were to find yourself in the fabled Shangri-La, you might expect that paradisiacal valley to be filled with exotic herbs and flowers. And you might also expect to find a mysterious apothecary shop there, where a wise and ancient shaman turns the essences of those botanical gifts into elixirs, tonics, tinctures, and a really kick-ass negroni. Well, maybe that’s just our personal Shangri-La.
In Paris, at that fabled city’s Shangri-La Hotel, you will find such a Valhalla of Vegetation. The hotel’s Le Bar Botaniste—named in honor of the former owner of the building, renowned botanist and Napoleonic nephew Prince Roland Bonaparte—has committed to living up to its moniker.
Head barman Clement Emery has unveiled a cocktail menu created over the past year that reads like the supplements aisle of a natural foods store. It features drinks containing Malabar white pepper, Aomori black garlic, Sicilian sumac, Kentucky tobacco, curry plant, calamansi, pistachio sap, and sweet clover. Emery designed the menu like a travel journal; like Bonaparte before him, he has hunted down the rarest herbs and plants from around the world, made careful notes on their aromas and flavors, and preserved them in alcohol.
The menu features concoctions like the “Cyrus” (Polish rye vodka, black lemon powder, and Lillet Grande Réserve), the “Bloom” (amaro and a housemade tincture of more than 20 ingredients, spritzed), and the “Nektar” (mead, pollen, beeswax, and propolis, which is something you should look up after you’ve tasted it, not before). Emery’s daring take on the negroni apéritif is crafted of gin, Escubac botanical liqueur, saffron, green cardamom, and Kummel liqueur.
Emery’s menu contains 20 such cocktails, each with a presentation as inventive as the hooch inside. The bar, just a short stroll from the foot of the Eiffel Tower, seems the perfect place to begin an around-the-world journey—one that won’t even involve leaving its sumptuous leather chairs.The Shangri-La Hotel is located at 10 Avenue d’Iéna, adjacent to the Trocadéro; Le Bar Botaniste is open daily from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.>>Next: How a Group of Americans Is Working to Save the Oldest Church in Paris