Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bringing Sexy Back: Pour Vous Debuts

Pour Vous is bringing sexy back.  Hollywood has undergone a resurgence but not since the days of Classic Hollywood has there been a venue this sexy in town.  La Descarga has sizzle but Pour Vous has a transporting effect.  Led by Head Bartender Dave Fernie (above), Pour Vous also benefits from a surfeit of talent behind the bar including Lindsay Nader, Adrian Biggs and Devon Espinosa, plus the team of Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni who worked with the Houston brothers to design and open this boîte.

The space was taken down to the studs and then some with a new bar, a new lowered seating area and a dramatic glass domed ceiling all part of the design scheme which evokes a soigné Parisian haunt where you might find Juliette Binoche at the next barstool.  Pour Vous is not only French in name and decor but in its cocktails and spirits selection; it has what may be the largest selection of Cognac and Armagnac in any bar in the United States.

In what has become a signature touch for Houston/Livigni/Moix establishments, there is an indoor/outdoor smoking area, in this case a converted trolley which thankfully isn't hurtling down the 110 Freeway at high speed.  My fellow intrepid enthusiast Caroline on Crack is pictured below on the steps of the soon to be infamous trolley.

One of the most eye catching cocktails at Pour Vous is the Moulin Rouge, below.  A sparkling cocktail made with Grey Goose vodka, aperol, Peychaud's bitters, orgeat, lemon juice, lime juice, fresh strawberry purée and champagne.  Garnished with a strawberry and with champagne bubbles floating up with each sip (no sparkling wine here, this is Pour Vous) the Moulin Rouge was designed for seduction.

In a classical French touch, (though it is not on the menu) a Pousse-café is available to those wanting a layered drink.  The eye catching beverage is rather sweet but is certain to gain the attention of those around you.  The cocktail is made by layering ingredients of different densities from heaviest to lightest in the glass.

The menu of 25 cocktails is just the beginning; Livigni commented that he plans to add several dozen more to the list in the coming months.  This may already be the largest list of craft cocktails in town and it is impressive that they have so many recipes in reserve.  The Samurai, one of my favorites on the list,  is indeed a powerful warrior, ready to attack with drawn sword.  It is quite evident from the first sip that this is a savory wonder as Armagnac, raspberry, rhubarb and umami combine in this cutting stirred cocktail.  This might just be a meal in a glass.

Another highlight is the The Lapin Fou (below), which translates as the Mad Rabbit and is made with Pear Eau de Vie, carrot juice, lemon juice, Velay Jaune, ginger and garnished with a slice of cucumber.  This comes from the "Sante" or healthy section of the menu. The other four categories of cockails are Aperitif, Parfum, Potion, and Par Avion.  Orange juice in a cocktail?  Jamba Juice this was not.  The pear brandy and herbal notes of the Velay Jaune were tempered by the juices.  This was a surprising cocktail that exceeded expectations and one I'd order again.

L'Indochinois has an entirely different style of cucumber garnish as the delicate slice is meant to float like a boat on the sea of Bonal, lime juice and Curacao with Thai Basil as the sail on the voyage.  The cocktail is from the Par Avion category and was one of Espinosa's creations.

Pour Vous is a collaborative effort between the six bartenders who each bring their own style to the common goal of quality cocktails with a nod to France and the use of French liqueurs and ingredients whenever possible.  We were fortunate to have Lindsay Nader (below) make some of our cocktails, along with Fernie.  The team is truly a Murderers' Row of talent, with each bartender more accomplished than the next.  You literally can't go wrong with a cocktail from any of them.

There is nothing wrong with a well made Sazerac, but the Sazerac Fix provides a unique take on the classic that may entice more sippers into sampling the original.  Rather than being served in a coupe, it is served in a rocks glass with a piece of "big ice" and lemon juice is added to the rye, bitters, pastis, evaporated cane sugar.
Sazerac Fix
If drinking a Sur La Mer (Beneath the Sea) is a way to stay healthy, then I may trade in my vitamins.  Rum, lime juice, E3 living algae, Fresca, salt and evaporated cane sugar combine to form this healthy daiquiri.  The frothy cocktail has a strong citrus (lime) flavor and is garnished with the twisted peel of a lime.  Very refreshing and has a lot of visual appeal.

Management warned that the door was going to be tough at Pour Vous but they are not attempting to be like certain spots off Hollywood Blvd where you are either on the list or not going to get in; they just want patrons to dress nicely.  When a venue has gone through so much effort to get dolled up, the least you can do is return the favor.  The service is very hospitable, the drinks are delicious and the vibe is wonderful.  à votre santé!

 Pour Vous: 5574 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood | 323.960.0301 |

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