Paris Bars V: Mabel

Rum is having a moment in Paris, and Mabel is at the center of it. I’ll get into the review in a moment, but first I have to rant a little about rum.

Let’s start with what isn’t rum. Bacardi is not rum, at least not the kind of rum I care about.  It’s flavorless sugar-alcohol masquerading as one of the world’ great spirits.

Good rum is bursting with flavors, ranging from the fresh grassy herbaceous quality of a rhum agricole to the rotten fruit and burnt tire of a dank jamaican pot still rum.  It’s also a bargain; a decent XO cognac will set you back at least $80, but you can get a killer 12 year old sipper rum for $30.  (Note: All links go to K&L wines, sorry if you don’t live in California).

So yes, rum is awesome, but why is it so big in Paris? Are they growing sugar cane in France? Actually, yes. Thanks to the miracle of colonialism, there is a little patch of French soil smack in the middle of the Caribbean; the island of Martinique.  French people like their AOC stamps, and they created AOC Martinique Rhum Agricole to protect the particular style of rum made on the island. It’s an agricole, which means it is made from fermented fresh sugar cane instead of the typical molasses base.  If you’ve ever tried Cachaça or something from Barbancourt you’ve had a rum in this style.

Now that I’ve bored everyone with rum education, let’s get on to the drinks.

Monk’s Swizzle

Monk's Swizzle from Mable

I was intrigued by this one. The primary spirits are Wray and Nephew Green Chartreuse, and Becherovka  Green Chartreuse is a famous French spirit made by Carthusian monks. It’s strong (55% ABV) and herbaceous (130 different herbs are infused into it), which gives it the potential to overpower a cocktail. Wray and Nephew is one of those big overproof funky Jamaican rums, and Becherovka is another herb driven spirit.  Put them all together and what do you get? A surprisingly tiki tasting concoction that goes down way too easy consider all the overproof juice in it.

Trader Who?

Tiara got this one, a riff on the classic Mai Tai, which was ostensibly invented at Trader Vic’s in Oakland in the 40s.

Trader Who cocktail from Mabel

As Mai Tais go, this was as good as it gets. Lots of complex rum, creamy mouthfeel from the orgeat, and some well made curaçao to round it out, there’s nothing to complain about here.


If you like rum, you should go to Mabel. If you don’t like rum, you should go to Mabel so they can change your mind. If you don’t care about rum, get the hell off my blog.

The one downside is the interior was distinctly tropical. Not in the “full of cute tiki elements” kind of way, but in the “humid and 110 degrees” kind of way. Again, it’s a heatwave in Paris, but I recommend saving Mable for a day that’s a little on the chilly side.

Finally, for you serious nerds that want to noodle on the recipes, here’s the menu.

Mabel Paris Menu