If you’re happy and you know it… come back later!
Have you ever had flu so bad you thought the world would end before you could ever recover? Well picture it…the world ending I mean…coz it’s gonna happen soon. Or at least before my will to survive this does. I feel poo, more than poo, I feel pilchard…from a can. I feel stuffed like a baby turkey, an injured seal, a submarine soldier taking his last breath of fresh air before a 9 month mission underwater, the pigeon with one leg who frequents my balcony begging for scraps of dried banana, Nigel, the homeless guy at the top of my street whose name is probably not Nigel…blagh. Friday morning, I awoke with a head full of frot beans exploding all over the place. It could have been the flu or the construction workers outside who seem to believe it is imperative to hammer rocks into the road with an 16 horsepower industrial hammer-thingy at 6:30 in the morning. To add insult to injury, they took a lunch break at 11!!! So, got on my bike to go to work…flat tire…score! Rode anyway and arrived at the studios with a blue behind-it seems the rock/road hammers in the rest of Hamburg aren’t quite as efficient as mine as it was a seriously bumpy ride-ouchy. Felt like a sprinkler whilst pirouetting in class and ran out sheepishly before I could apologise to those snot-sprayed victims. Cycled up the Fischmarkt hill home…double the effort due to the flat tyre and oncoming gales force winds, and bomb-dived into bed…shoes on.
As if one were beckoned to the cupboard leading to the realms of Narnia, so was I tempted last Saturday, after being tipped off by my local spies on facebook, to the door of Le Lion-Bar de Paris. A name that oozes decadence, danger and dudes in dark suits. On ringing the doorbell at the entrance which is on the same street as the authentic Café de Paris but with little connection apart from the name and the regulars, one is personally greeted by Mario the Maître d’. A dish of a man in suspenders and a bow tie who charms me with his impeccable English and relieves me of my coat as he welcomes me into the intimate setting that is Le Lion. The place is far from crowded yet exudes a Hamburg/Parisienne fusion that invites rather than excludes and is genuine rather than pretentious. I am at once escorted to “THE TASTING ROOM,” a secret lair at the end of a very mysterious passage where another door is opened and another room revealed. I had discovered that the owner, Joerg Meyer who discloses this hidden secret every now and again and when he wishes, was opening up “THE TASTING ROOM” on Saturday night. And so, like a student to jug of sangria, I snapped on my little cocktail dress and headed on down.
“THE TASTING ROOM” is and will remain a buried treasure to those of you who do not wish to reserve a spot, and I have been kindly asked to keep it that way. I will however say that it’s not for everyone, but that is for you Dear Reader to decide for yourself.
Back downstairs in the leisured game room, I take my place at the bar so as not to miss an iota of action. Mario chats to me about his hometown and the fact that despite his name and English accent he is a Bremen-bred boy, as I snap some shots of the gloriously illuminated “lion” bar decorated with bottles and potions and ingredients of which I have neither seen nor heard nor tasted before….a real cocktail laboratory. Gabriel the master cocktail Chef of the evening shakes up a storm and presents me with my new favourite cocktail- a St Germain with wisps of elderflower cordial and lemon and I sip away happily as he dazzles his audience with a smooth tongue of conversation and a delicate hand on the bottle. Before long I have made my way through a jungle of tastes, aromas and stories and Gabriel keenly explains to me the history, the myths and methods behind what he calls “classy (cocktails)with an edge.” He takes me through his selective line up from the Ranglum with Gosling’s Dark, and Jamaican rum, and lime, to the 1930′s Jack Rabbit with maple syrup as well as an ironically light and refreshingly citrus Dark and Stormy thrown somewhere in the middle while Frank Sinatra serenades in the background. I ask Gabriel where he possibly comes up with all the ideas for his drinks. He explains to me that all the best drinks are made on the spur of the moment and that he tastes his way through the way a sommelier or a chef does. Mario joins us and we chat the night away and I feel as if I’ve known these guys for ages. That’s the thing about this bar; as elegant and pizzazz as it is, it is small enough for the bartender and maitre d’ to get tucked in with their customer- true style.
One gets a sense that when it comes to tastes, mixtures and creations, these boys know what they’re doing and that for them, the possibilities are endless. The cocktails are exquisite, refined, tasty and instead of divulging mountains of flashy new luminous colours and flavours, these boys stick to the ethos and atmosphere that Joerg Meyer has created. Classy. Traditional. Individual.
I highly recommend this Bar. Dress accordingly and inflate your wallet for a thorough exploration, otherwise pop by after your meeting in this city, or with the girls.
delisHH rating: 5/7