The Paris Bar That Serves Fancy Cheese Cocktails

Visitors flock to France for a taste of its rich culinary history, and no trip to the country would be complete without sampling the wide array of French cheeses, from brie to camembert to Roquefort. Of course, for a full French experience, you should couple your cheese course with a traditional French wine like Champagne or a classic cocktail like a Kir Royale. And if you visit one bar in Paris, you won't just enjoy a wine and cheese pairing — you can actually drink the combination, reports Food & Wine.

Cheese and alcohol may not sound like the most natural partners (though the cheese garnishes that adorn some over-the-top Bloody Marys would like a word), but it's actually more common than you might think. Even big brands like Velveeta have gotten in on the action, infamously creating the Veltini cocktail in July 2022, which included Velveeta-infused vodka. And as Julia Momosé, author of "The Way of Cocktail," tells it, "We're already using milk and cream in cocktails, and we are also using acid in cocktails. Cheese is basically dairy and acid altogether. So I think it makes a lot of sense" (via Cheese Professor).

So where in Paris can you indulge in this unique pairing?

Le Syndicat turned a stinky cheese into a refreshing drink

Cocktail bar Le Syndicat pushes the envelope with drinks like its cheesy Gettin' Milky with Nut. According to Food & Wine, in addition to gin, milk, curry, and walnut vinegar, the drink is made with Roquefort — a cheese known for its pungent qualities. Of course, you can't just mix cheese directly into a cocktail and get the desired texture or flavor. So to make the inventive creation work, Le Syndicat's bartenders employ the technique used to make milk punch, which is a clarified cocktail that's regained popularity in recent years. Food & Wine explains that adding Roquefort to the gin and vinegar mix (which contains citric acid) "causes the curds and whey [from the blue cheese] to separate." After straining the mixture, the bartenders are left with a shockingly clear beverage infused with a light Roquefort-y flavor.

In addition to the blue cheese cocktail, another cheesy drink creation has graced the Le Syndicat menu. Called the G.O.A.T., the cocktail included a goat cheese mousse topping, along with arugula, cucumber, gin, and myrtle l'eau de vie.

So what's the impetus for all these cheese-based beverages? Thibault Massina, Le Syndicat's creative director, told Tasting Table that cheese is "one of the most important ingredient[s] in the French gastronomy." Additionally, the team — which includes bartenders that are trained chefs and sommeliers — "love to face challenges." 

A new view on French tradition

Le Syndicat isn't only famous for its aforementioned cheesy drinks. It regularly makes lists of the best bars in the world precisely because it is willing to experiment with surprising ingredients — i.e., embrace a challenge. 

And the Roquefort cocktail isn't just a gimmick: the bar is devoted to celebrating France's remarkable culinary scene. Bartenders create cocktails deeply based on the country's gastronomy, Massina told Tasting Table, and are inspired by culinary traditions passed down by their elders. In fact, the watering hole (whose full name is Le Syndicat, Organisation de Défense des Spiritueux Français, or Organization for the Defense of French Spirit) only uses French spirits and French ingredients. Massina stated the bar is interested in promoting new views on French tradition, "For a lot of French people, cognac or calvados is only what your grandparents would drink. We try to show another way of drinking these spirits."

This love can be seen in thoughtful details, like one cocktail that the bar previously offered, L'Appolinaire, which was topped with candies in the French colors red, white, and blue (via Sortir Paris). Hip hop also inspires the bartenders and helps shake off any preconceived notions about French gastronomy, as illustrated by a previous creation: Notorious G.R.A.P.E.S. "No matter when you come to Syndicat, whether it's on a quiet night or a weekend night ... people are dancing to Dr. Dre, you're gonna have an amazing drink, perfectly executed," the bar told Tasting Table.

While the establishment regularly refreshes its cocktail list, cheese lovers shouldn't worry; Massina told Food & Wine to expect to continue to see the dairy product on the menu in some form.