A rainy night.
Near Place Des Vosges, on the outskirts of the Marais, the backstreets are slick and empty. The three of us scamper across the wide Boulevard Beaumarchais. Rain picks up. It’s near freezing. Street lights reflect in a violent orange hue.
My feet are damp, but my mouth tastes of a perfectly charred steak from Le Petit Marche.
Around the corner lies a pizzeria. We’re not eating again.
We enter, greet ‘bonsoir’ and cut through to the back. To the cooler. My friend isn’t expecting it. We’re in the cooler now. Miscellaneous stock, barrels, boxes and cartons are stored behind a wired cage. I force him to wait an extra second.
On the far wall lies a trap door. I turn the handle.
Here we are. A crowded, backlit bar aka the Moonshiner.
Buena Sera. The bartender yells over the crowd. They’re wearing 30’s attire and listening to 70’s music.
I scour the room. A herd has formed, as sheep normally do, in the narrowest area of the bar, making it very difficult to pass. Every seat is occupied. Hype kids. Don’t step on anyone’s shoes.
Two Vodka Pomegranates and 1 Negroni. I direct us to the smoking lounge. Here, we’re able to procure a few stools, and schmooze without the imposing screeches and elbows of neighbors.
Tucked behind candle-lit tables, tightly-knit couples line the other wall.
My buddy flips through pictures of his two weeks in Morocco, vehemently explaining the scarcity of alcohol in the country, and how every bar was technically a real Speakeasy. His iPhone 8Plus captures the sublime light of the Sahara. Of the Atlas Mountains. Of the blue city, Chefchaouen.
1 Gin & Honey and Two Negronis this time. We switch to the political system in the US. ‘The Republicans play the game better.’ Brash, manipulative, insidious—in politics, these are all considered qualities. Democrats won seats in the house, but it’s not enough.
We face two problems: their subordinates and their superiors.
The US has become so bipartisan that if anyone is out of alignment, the system fails. This, to me, feels…outdated.
My eyes wander to others in the room. Darkness obscures their faces, and space obscures their voices. It’s my turn. I leave to get more drinks.
Near the bar, I recognise a man from the smoking room. A 90’s Leo lookalike in a well-cut white T-shirt. He’s short (I’m 195 cm. People are short.), and wears the smile of a young, yet already successful man, a person who knows exactly where he’s going next. His ravishing date joins him, and they exit in a cloud of sparkling dust. Merci, to the bartender in a beret and vest, and I head back to the smoking section.
1 Gin & Honey, 1 Gin-Campari and Vermouth (Negroni) and the piece de resistance a Gin, Cucumber and Yogurt cocktail. Frothy, refreshing, phenomenal.
After the drink, we pack up, and stumble outside.