65 Cocktails on the Wall at Paris' Le Forvm
Operating for over 80 years, Paris' Le Forvm bar is both established yet continues to reinvent itself and its 65 drink strong cocktail menu. In an atmosphere of dark wood features and plush leather seating, patrons can select their liquor of choice from a menu that reads 40 pages cover to cover. "It's not that much," brand ambassador and bar director Joseph Biolatto playfully insists, saying that "people are used to short cocktail lists, but for 80 years we always had a big cocktail list — even bigger. Ten years ago there were 250 cocktails."
Black and white photos display the bar's past and a dual set of vinyl jukeboxes sit towards the back, existing more as decorative fixtures since the bar's playlist is dictated nightly by staff. Sitting in a chair inside the storied bar, Biolatto explains that the cocktail menu is an annual event, overhauled once each year rather than seasonally. "We make cocktail lists for the whole year so we try to make something that will please everyone all the time."
Compiled in book form, the menu is divided into sections based on the types of alcohol that serves as the foundation of the drinks. There's a whiskey section, one for mezcal and tequila, one for gin, another for rum, ron rum and cachaça and so on. Noting that there's "a cocktail for every taste," Biolatto further offers "if you like Mezcal you can have it really dry, really sweet or with a lot of sourness, for example."
Within each section comes a highly curated selection of cocktail along with mini descriptions that allude to famous lines from movies, their creators and other anecdotes alongside a listing of their ingredients. Twists on classics include Manhattans from a Caramel Manhattan with red vermouth, Maker's Mark, pineapple juice, bitters and Caramel Topping or their Hudson Manhattan built upon a foundation of Hudson Manhattan Rye. Turn to the Vodka section for cocktails carrying names like "Blonde Bombshell," "Miss Bradshaw and Friends" (as a nod to Sex and the City) and Ichigo Ichie. There are five champagne based cocktails that come in flavors like vanilla and apple.
It's admittedly a lot of reading for the bar's patrons, so they have streamlined the menu while still offering a vast selection with specialities in nearly every avenue of alcohol. Still, "the cocktail list is just there because we need to have a cocktail list. When you're at the bar you're not stuck with that. Most of the time we don't give it to the customers. [We ask] 'What do you want?'" Biolatto then adds, "we try to please the masses."
So what's on the upcoming menu? How did they decide what cocktails would make the cut? Taste tests throughout the year with customers. Whichever new cocktails will join Le Forvm's rotation have been made and tested countless times before being committed to print.
The drinks come in a range of prices, but be aware that one drink costs the equivalent to a fine meal. Le Forvm recently ranked in the Top 25 bars in Europe by trade organization Cocktails Spirits. You'll also hear a mix of songs finetuned to whoever the patrons are for the evening. One night you may hear music from the '70s and the next it could be French band Pony Pony Run Run overtaking the speakers. "You can come two nights in a row and it will be completely different," says Biolatto in terms of music and company. Same could be said of their menu, wide-ranging at 65 cocktails, but with the ability to be tailored to the individual.
All photos by Nilina Mason-Campbell