As the self-proclaimed “Organization in Defense of French Spirits,” Le Syndicat’s goal is simple: Make French spirits cool again. The Parisian bar, located in the city’s 10th Arrondissement, exclusively stocks French-made products on the backbar, championing their diversity and caliber across a menu of creative cocktails.
“For a lot of French people, Cognac or Calvados are spirits that your grandparents used to drink,” says Robin Davalo, bar director at Le Syndicat. “At our bar, we showcase these old-fashioned ingredients—as well as eaux de vie, rhums, French gins and so on—in contemporary ways through our gastronomic cocktails and tasting flights.”
On the bar’s current menu, Ça Tourne (which translates to “It’s Turning”), the cocktails rotate by season to showcase the breadth of French spirits over the course of the year. “For each season, we try to use ingredients that the average drinker wouldn’t expect in a cocktail bar, such as goat cheese, or carrot gazpacho,” Davalo explains.
The Bulle (French for “bubble”) is one of the bar’s bestselling cocktails. With a penchant for elegant long drinks, the bar created this highball-style serve, which is one of the only cocktails on the menu that doesn’t get phased out seasonally. Instead, as the menu changes, the Bulle gets a fresh twist and takes on the name and character of the season.
The Bulle d'Hiver is force-carbonated for effervescence (left) and garnished with mint foam atop an isomalt spoon (right).
The Bulle d’Hiver, the winter variation of the cocktail, keeps the three core, omniseasonal elements of the Bulle—coconut oil–washed blanche d’Armagnac, Champagne and verjus—but augments it with nori-infused blanche d’Armagnac, mint syrup and mint distillate. The mixture is then force-carbonated before being served in a highball glass over a crystal-clear ice spear. The drink is garnished with a housemade coconut ice cream and mint foam, served on a beet sugar isomalt spoon, which sits atop the spear of ice—a sort of edible version of the drink.
“When you first taste it, the fizziness brings out the coconut notes of the blanche d’Armagnac, which is followed by the dryness and acidity of the Champagne,” says Davalo. “This freshness prepares the palate for the subtlety of the mint, before the salty, umami notes of the nori on the finish just make you want to go back for another sip.”
As the seasons turn, so do the cocktail’s flavors. Davalo says that the mint and nori will be replaced by the herb sarriette (aka summer savory) in the spring and marigold in the summer.
“It always amazes me how much the drink changes, while also simultaneously remaining the same,” says Davalo. “Every time the menu changes, it reminds me of meeting an old friend [I] haven’t seen in years. It’s familiar, yet there’s still something new to discover.”