The Night Defenders

Les Zadistes de la nuit

The Paris Cocktail Week was held last month at the Ground Control bar, as well as in other selected places of the French capital. This is enough to prove that in a few years, the cocktail party has stopped being an exclusive type of social gathering to become a generational cultural practice. That comes to credit the idea that reading about what happens in this small world helps understanding better our society.

The first observation is that here as elsewhere, green consciousness and eco-friendly behaviour are gaining ground. Straw-hunting is the proof, as straws are accused of contaminating our beautiful planet. Every day, 8.8 million straws are allegedly used and tossed away in France. As a result, bamboo or washable metal straws have come up in our glasses. Likewise, beer mats are stepping down in favour of clip-frames and cocktails tend to be made with fewer ice-cubes – as they also contribute to global warming. Useless to linger over local cocktails made from garden herbs, seasonal fruits or ingredients provided by the local food network. You won’t avoid a hangover after a cocktail, but our planet may get through. And that’s good news.

The analysis of the world of mixology wouldn’t be complete without a few semiotics elements. What are the names of the latest Parisian bars? We have three families here. For the first family, to have a cocktail means to take a stance. In favour of tradition, of old alcohol survival, of the mixologist corporation. These bars are called Combat (“Fight”), La Commune (“The Paris Commune”), Le Syndicat (“The Union”). The second is the speakeasy family. Just like old times, their success depends upon their privacy. Take this bar hidden behind a secret door at the second floor of a hotel or on the rooftop of an outstanding TV channel building… Or that one, buried in a basement or located in the back room of a little restaurant… The cocktail resists. Hotel bars – the original ones – make up the third and most conservative family group. These are places where fantasy and reality meet. The common point between the three families is that they all want to slow down time.

Keeping traditions alive, separating consumption from haste, appreciating the duration of a moment. Cocktail amateurs are the night defenders. They won’t let modernity ruin their world. Cocktails as a counterculture. This certainly gives a boost to their success.

So What ?

When everything seems to be accessible to everybody, offering consumers the feeling that they are taking part in a counterculture may contribute to the creation of a strong sense of belonging and identity.

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