Franco File Friday: Forest Collins of 52 Martinis

23 September 2011

Paris really is like a small village. I met a woman at my former gym and over a year later I find myself having a drink with her and cocktail expert/blogger Forest Collins of the site 52 Martinis at Le China- turns out, the two were friends and have collaborated together professionally. Throw in Kasia Dietz and Kim Laidlaw Adrey and you’ve got yourself a huge chunk of the expat blogging crowd. Forest and I had been exchanging tweets and emails long before we finally met but our shared love for Paris (and a certain kind of lifestyle -you might remember her contribution to my series) was evident from the beginning.

Whereas my interest revolves primarily around food, Forest has grown her niche around her passion – cocktails. She regularly hosts cocktail meet-ups, is the first to get wind of the latest wine bar opening or event and offers honest reviews of some of the city’s most lauded lounges. Most recently she has begun contributing to the website World’s Best Bars, leveraging her expertise even further. But she didn’t move to Paris for cocktails, it was for a love of France…
Describe what you love about France in three words

Food, wine, architecture

What initially seduced you about France and specifically, Paris?

Like many Americans, I had romantic ideas about France from an early age based on movies, books, pictures. I had a poster of a French chateau on my bedroom wall and I constantly fantasized about living in here. But it was all fixation based on vague images, ideas and suggestions. Later, as I become more interested in the food and wine, this fixation really developed. So, I was first simply seduced by the idea of something foreign and faraway and then very specifically by the concrete world of gastronomy. I still haven’t found that chateau from the poster though. I’ll definitely know it when I see it.

The one place you’d recommend for superior cocktails and/or wine to those with limited time in Paris?

It’s impossible to choose a ‘best of’ when it comes to cocktails or wine in Paris. There are so many factors like budget, tastes, age, location, and timing. When it comes to drinking in this city, there’s definitely something for everyone. It’s just not the same place for everyone.

That said, when I take local or visiting friends on cocktail crawls to give them an idea of the scene here, Candelaria is the one most people rate as best. While you can get well made cocktails in many places, they are putting a lot of sincerity into what they’re doing, using fresh ingredients, and offering interesting choices on the menu. And, if I want to go off menu, I know they’ve got the skills and stock to do it with style.

Preferred spot in France to relax and refresh?

Paris has plenty of green pockets of park for a quick mental break, but to really relax and refresh, I have to head out of the city. I favor off-season visits to small towns like Amboise or Annecy where I can go for a weekend and lose myself with a book for an afternoon in a quiet café or stroll cobblestone streets with no aim but finding my next meal.

Favorite French novel and/or film?

The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas. Who doesn’t love a story about such a complete transformation and even sometimes think about it themselves? Maybe that’s what draws so many expats to France – a chance to live a different life, a bit of personal transformation. Plus, there’s no better example of revenge served so cold and so well.


Couldn’t agree with her more! Coming to Paris and want to know where to find the best bars, lounges and restaurants for stellar drinks? Bookmark 52 Martinis pronto! She’s even created a handy map of Paris with markers to facilitate cocktail adventures for all. Connect with her on Twitter for all Paris and cocktail related updates.

{Photos courtesy of Forest Collins}