Luxury leader LVMH opens an impressive five-storey cocktail bar in Paris
The new stylish emporium, Cravan, opened after Pharrell Williams’ debut show for Louis Vuitton during men’s Paris Fashion Week
Moët Hennessy is expanding its place in the cocktail world. The wine and spirits arm of LVMH has gone beyond stocking bottles behind the bar and is launching its own cocktail spot, Cravan.
The stylish emporium, in a 17th century building in the midst of Saint-Germain-des-Prés on Paris’s Left Bank, opened last weekend, at the tail end of men’s Paris Fashion Week and after Pharrell Williams' debut show for Louis Vuitton.
Cravan is an outpost of the destination bar of the same name in the 16th arrondissement, which opened in 2018. The new location, set in a building owned by LVMH, expands the concept throughout its five floors.
The space is the brainchild of cocktail expert Franck Audoux, creator of the original Cravan and co-founder of the cult favourite Paris restaurant Le Chateaubriand. It is named for the avant-garde poet and artist Arthur Cravan and was designed by Ramy Fischler.
Interiors are eclectic, with inspirations as disparate as the surrealist art world, the building’s roots in the 1600s and the neighbourhood’s literary history. Unsurprisingly, the LVMH influence manifests in the design: Much of the fabric used for Cravan’s upholstery comes from the company-backed Nona Source, which specialises in designer circular fabric.
The concept of a corporate-branded restaurant has been gaining traction. American Express Co. recently opened Centurion New York, a club for people who hold the high-end black card. Mastercard has announced the expansion of “Priceless,” a restaurant concept that is opening in Hong Kong following launches in Italy, Brazil and Mexico.
But this is new territory for alcohol companies; most of their corporate branding with restaurants and bars involves supplying giant emblazoned gastro umbrellas for outdoor dining.
Cravan is a more experiential enterprise. Three open-to-the-public bars are spread across the Saint-Germain townhouse. The ground floor replicates the interior of the original Cravan, a quintessential Paris drinking spot. One flight up, the light-filled bar is anchored by a long, curved, deep-green marble counter and outfitted with spliced mirrors on the walls and ceiling, with corduroy-upholstered banquette seats.
The next floor features a Rizzoli bookstore and reading room with a selection of volumes curated by the publisher and Audoux; there are plush seats for browsing books while you drink. And up one level is another bar, a wallpapered space with carpeted floors, refurbished marble fireplaces and a salon vibe.
Access to Cravan’s top floor, which Fischler says was inspired by an artist atelier, is by invitation only. So is the rooftop space, which seats from six to eight people and doubles as a tiny movie theatre; films, curated by the Cravan team, will be projected on a building wall.
The cocktails highlight Audoux’s simple-is-better philosophy and will vary from floor to floor. They aren’t exclusively made up of brands from the Moët Hennessy portfolio, although those feature prominently.
Among the selections are a series of champagne-based drinks called the Royals: The Royal Basilic is a mix of Ruinart Brut and basil flowers, while the Royal Tagète combines Moët & Chandon with passion fruit and marigold leaves.
There will also be signature cocktails such as the Isadora, a mix of tequila and morello sour cherries, and the Lady from Shanghai, a white peach-infused vodka with jasmine tea and lime.
An eclectic selection of cocktail-friendly food designed by Franck will be prepared by an in-house chef. Dishes include Vacherin grilled cheese sandwiches on Japanese milk bread; sea urchin dip; mushroom and seaweed tempura; and a lobster roll.
It seems likely that the company, which is emphasising the experiential aspect of Cravan on its varying floors, will roll out additional Moët Hennessy bars.
“The goal will not be to copy/paste Cravan Paris in another city,” says a spokesperson. Still, the company has partnered with Audoux on the original Cravan location, and, she adds, there are “maybe more to come, powered by Moët Hennessy and Franck Audoux.”