My dad worked closely this past year with Colin Field, head bartender at the Ritz in Paris (which is currently undergoing a major renovation) to envision and create a new bar at Halekulani’s most acclaimed restaurant, La Mer. They (along with a few other people who were invaluable to the process) came up with L’Aperitif at La Mer, and I had the chance to visit in January.
Since Colin was still there, after perusing the wonderfully designed menu I decided to let him create something unique for me. How could I resist, when he promised to make me a cocktail that would taste “like biting into a crisp pear that is just on the brink of ripeness”? I don’t remember now (unfortunately) what he put into the cocktail, but it fully delivered his promise (and the full-size red rose was a beautiful, fragrant touch). Colin also poured me a taste of their homemade raspberry infused vodka, which made the flavored main-stream versions of fruity vodka of my past seem pathetic and artificial in comparison.
Having the opportunity to chat with Colin, who was called by Forbes “The World’s Greatest Bartender,” was really fun and educational. He is funny and has a great wit yet maintains his elegant composure at all times, and his passion for his art is apparent always. I went to bartending school a few summers ago, and even though I cannot remember all 300+ drinks I had to memorize to pass the test, I’m still very interested in the world of bartending. Colin gave me a list of bars to check out back in New York City, which I still need to get around to. One of the things Colin said that I remember exactly was, “I like cocktails that speak. Cognac over ice can be like looking at Saturn in the galaxy.”
My cocktail was accompanied by foie gras, rose petal marmalade, and a brioche chip. This was my first taste of foie gras and to be honest, I did not particularly enjoy it. The texture was similar to a soft cheese, and the flavor was unlike anything else I’ve had. The marmalade was delicious and I could taste how it complemented the foie gras well, but I think I will need to develop a taste for it before I am able to eat more than one bite in a sitting.
Right after cocktails, my dad I rushed to the airport so that I could board a plane back to New York for my final Spring semester of college in Saratoga Springs. It was a lovely evening to end my last college vacation back home!
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