One of the best bars in Paris serves cocktails stuffed with cheese

Le Syndicat Cheese Filled Cocktails

Le Syndicat Cheese Filled Cocktails

Courtesy of The Union

Most people expect to eat cheese during a trip to France. Less, perhaps, they expect to be drinking goat and Cantal. However, that is exactly what you will discover in The Union in Paris, a regular on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, which became known for serving cocktails made with unexpected ingredients, including, yes, cheese. One of his recent hits, Gettin’ Milky with Nut, is a delicious combination of roquefort, curry, gin, milk and walnut vinegar.

There are many measures of greatness at this bar, from service to atmosphere, but arguably the most impressive is its ability to turn one of the “stinkiest” cheeses in the world into a light, refreshing drink. So how does Le Syndicat do it? A pre-dosed clarification format called milk punch. During the process, the milk (and, in this case, the blue cheese) is added to a spirit mix that contains citric acid (here, walnut vinegar). This causes the curds and whey to separate, resulting in a subtle infusion of flavor and a silky-smooth texture.

While clarified milk punch (also known as English milk punch) first gained popularity in the 1600smany of the cocktail world’s top mixologists, including Eamon Rockey of Eleven Madison Park and Betony in New York City, have re-popularized the technique over the past two decades as a way to experiment with fun recipes.

“Even if you use fish or meat, the milk punch mellows out the flavors,” explains Thibault Massina, Creative Director at Le Syndicat. “Clarification makes the flavor less strong”, making it the perfect method for making Roquefort cocktails. In Gettin’ Milky with Nut, the sharp crispness of cheese is reduced to a satisfying whisper, balanced by the sweetness of a touch of curry.

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Le Syndicat Cheese Filled Cocktails

Le Syndicat Cheese Filled Cocktails

Courtesy of The Union

Who is this drink for? Anyone who likes Roquefort, of course. “People will say, ‘My God, there’s blue cheese in that cocktail.’ And I ask them: ‘Do you like blue cheese in your life? I’m sure you’ll love it.’ That’s a success.”

Unlike some milk punch concoctions (hello, Apple Jacks cereal milk), Le Syndicat’s devotion to dairy isn’t a gimmick, but a thoughtful part of its patriotic mission statement. The full name of the bar is Le Syndicat – Organization de Défense des Spiritueux Français, so named because they exclusively serve drinks made from French spirits and liqueurs.

“The idea of ​​opening Le Syndicat was to protect the French spirits, to make them cool again,” says Massina. “The French are very proud of their products such as wine, cheese and spirits. Yet at the same time, export 95% of our cognac and you drink almost nothing. Some people here have that mentality of wanting to enjoy something more exotic, like bourbon or scotch whiskey, to feel like they’re in Peaky Blinders. In France, cognac is seen as a spirit of grandfather.”

Le Syndicat’s rotating menu of seasonal cocktails highlights recipes from all of the bar’s mixologists, and Massina and her team like to champion the breadth and quality of France’s produce without exaggerating expectations or traditions. Fig, tomato and asparagus have recently been on the menu. Naturally, cheese also figures here.

“As a French person, if you could put cheese on everything, you would,” says Massina. “Then why not at a cocktail party?” Another recipe at Le Syndicat, aptly named GOAT, features a mix of arugula, cucumber, gin and myrtle l’eau de vie, topped with a goat cheese mousse.

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Le Syndicat Cheese Filled Cocktails

Le Syndicat Cheese Filled Cocktails

Courtesy of The Union

The French are not the only ones who have realized the pleasures of a cheese drink. A handful of bartenders and restaurants around the world are making up their own versions. Rezdôra in New York City offers Cheers Mr. Johnson, a Parmesan-infused gin cocktail, and Saison in San Francisco serves the Coat of Arms, made with house-made vermouth, Drouin Calvados and a smoked goat cheese tincture.

As for Le Syndicat, the cheese is not going anywhere. “We are working hard on the next menu, which will be launched in September,” says Massina. “It will feature French ingredients in a very specific way. And there will be a new cheese drink, but I can’t say more at the moment.”