Paris has a tequila bar and restaurant! Who knew? La Perla is in the Marais, of course. It is lovely, warm, welcoming, and extremely popular in the neighborhood.
Look for this:
We were introduced to La Perla by its soft-spoken, but passionate founder, Tomas Estes. Tomas followed a dream from Southern California to Amsterdam, London, Germany, and Paris. He opened his first Mexican restaurant and bar in Amsterdam and discovered that Europe was beyond ready for tequila. Captivated by tequila, but not in the usual way, he spent years researching tequila in Mexico, developing relationships that led to a new tequila brand: Ocho, distributed in the U.S., France, and England. Now, he owns several bar-restaurants, the Ocho brand, and is the formal tequila ambassador to Europe.
Ocho is as far removed from the tequilas of my youth as Southern Comfort is from single-malt scotch. And I do know this from personal experience. Here at Wandering France, we go the extra sip or three to assure that you, the reader, have all the facts.
Ocho is produced in Jalisco, the most highly-regarded agave-growing region of Mexico, like Napa in California or the terroirs of France. Ocho is a slow-food, artisanal product. The agave fields and stills are locally-owned, so Ocho is also a fair-trade product. Ocho is 100% agave, which is the first step toward a good tequila, but not enough by itself. Tomas believes that taking the time to do things the right way, make the right decisions, and doing it most naturally are the essential next steps. Ocho starts with organically-grown agave, which is allowed to ripen in the field. The plants are harvested when super ripe and cooked slowly and at low heat. Next , mineral-rich spring water is added and the liquid ferments slowly in wooden casks, followed by a slow distillation. Perhaps only 2 or 3 tequila producers are doing this now.
Ocho is a slow food product, from cultivation to the final drink in your glass. Unlike mass-produced tequila, each Ocho run is encouraged to become what it is naturally going to be. Ocho sources different tequilas from specific ranches, e.g. Terroir for tequila. Each run is finite; when they’re done, they’re done. A collectable market is developing . . . The different tequilas on the tequila menu are described just like wines, e.g., fruity, citrus, notes of lemon, etc.
The take-away, based on a small sample: this stuff is really good. It has a lovely mouth feel, a delicate, intoxicating aroma, heat and some bite, with a lovely, smooth finish. It is the spirit of the agave, the eau de vie of the cactus.
Check it out at:
The tequila menu:
Tomas generously offered us lunch. La Perla makes its own salsas, sauces, etc. on-site, sourced from local suppliers. We tried two selections from the modern Mexican menu and they were both intriguing and delicious. I had the smoked chicken quesadillas with raspberry jalapeño sauce. The sweet, smoky, and hot flavors blended perfectly. The chef was kind enough to honor my request for no bell peppers. Huzzah! The tuna steak with green curry and carrots and zucchini cooked with agave syrup is another perfect match. Yes, green curry. The head chef is from Sri Lanka and changed things up a notch. The salads are fresh and crisp.
La Perla is warm & welcoming:
The coffee is organic and fair trade. We were, alas, too full for dessert (did I mention generous portions?) Next time . . . cheesecake offered with raspberry coulis or with tequila Ocho caramelized with cinnamon.
Tomas is simplifying his business so he can focus on Ocho. The London La Perlas are for sale. Interested? Contact Tomas Estes at:
La Perla-Paris is just off the rue de Rivoli, on the Hotel de Ville side, between the Hotel de Ville and St. Paul metros. Check the website below for pix, directions, hours, etc.
Address: 26 rue Francois Miron, 75004 Paris (corner of rue du Pont Louis-Phillippe)
Phone: +33 1 42 77 59 40
Hours: 7 days, noon to midnight and to 2 a.m., Thursday-Saturday.
Note: Any mistakes herein are entirely my responsibility.
Thank you, Tomas Estes, for a lovely and enlightening experience and for bringing fine tequila to Europe and the world.