The year is 1836 and the Arc de Triomphe is inaugurated 30 years after it was originally commissioned. The following year, Alexandrina Victoria becomes the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. And shortly after in 1943 Chivas is granted a Royal Warrant to supply their whisky to the young Queen. So why, you ask, is this historical hat trick significant? Because it's the inspiration behind the Parisian restaurant, bar and chic Chivas flagship: Victoria 1836.
Victoria 1836 opened a few years ago just steps from the Arc de Triomphe and is the only restaurant and bar in the city to enjoy such an up close and personal view of this impressive landmark. When the sun sets and this famous monument is all lit up against the dark purple Parisian night sky, the view is simply breathtaking. It's the kind of intimate look at the arc that makes viewers feel special, sophisticated, and initiated into a private club of in-the-know drinkers and diners. And the buttoned down but beautiful backdrop of the restaurant only adds to this feeling with its contemporary, classy decor and sexy mood lighting. And while many spaces with expansive views can fall short when it comes to the consumables, here they have a long list of well made Chivas whisky cocktails and chef Alexandre Auger handling the culinary creations with care. Of course, they also feature cocktails with other spirits, but the bigger experience here is around the whisky.
While the drinks menu changes periodically to keep things fresh, you can always expect a go-the-extra mile cocktail like their popular Old Victorian, which was aged and bottled. And if you stop into the bar to test out a few, you can also enjoy a selection of swanky bar snacks like house foie gras or Kaspian caviar making for a very sexy aperitif, indeed. But if you want to go all in, opt for the Chivas Experience menu.
The Chivas Experience menu is one of very few (perhaps two?) cocktail and food pairing menus that you'll find in Paris. Here, each of the three courses is paired with a Chivas cocktail created especially for the dish. Like the bar menu, this tasting menu changes periodically, but expect couplings like an elegant Dorade tartar matched with a lively shrub and whisky cocktail served in a simple champagne flute. For the most recent menu, the shrubs were made at the bar (bien sur!) and work surprisingly well with the whisky.
For each course, the cocktails and dishes stay away from being too fussy and are fresh, light and bright. As a result they complement rather than compete with each other in a satisfying way. This most recent menu also underlines the successful synergy between barman and chef, with a fish-only based menu (not what you'd necessarily expect to pair with this spirit!) working exceptionally well with the whisky. And if this isn't enough to make you feel like the royalty that inspired its name, all the cocktails are made table side with their lovely custom Chivas trolley as the bartender explains both the drink preparation and its pairing with the plate.
When in Paris it's easy to go with the big, obvious views. But for more discerning dinner and drinks, head here to experience something beyond the usual tourist circuit, discover a new way to savour your whisky and let yourself be carried away by the Chivas Experience. Because at Victoria 1836, you’re not only looking out at history, but taking part in an entire evening inspired by it.
Written by Forest Collins