Midnight in Paris: Rendezvous at Pour Vous

Pour Vous bar

After an extended buildout that continued to generate anticipation over the last several months, Pour Vous is now open at long last. Mark and Johnny Houston (owners of Harvard & Stone, La Descarga et al.) have transformed the former Forty Deuce space into a Salon de Champagne, with Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix heading an all-star team that includes bar manager Dave Fernie, Adrian Biggs, Devon Espinosa and Lindsay Nader. Pour Vous warmed up for its Thursday night debut by hosting a couple of preview nights earlier this week, and on Tuesday “sexy” seemed to be the word on every guest’s lips.

Pour Vous

While La Descarga evokes crumbling Old Havana and Harvard & Stone has the aged patina of a World War II-era factory, Pour Vous exudes a classy, underground Parisian vibe. The bar is the first thing that greets guests when they enter from Melrose, and it’s a looker indeed. The centerpiece is a gleaming copper cappuccino machine that’s been repurposed to house beer taps. Marble is a prominent element throughout Pour Vous, from the bar to the table tops. Plush banquettes offer cozy and comfortable seating, perfectly suited to the sultry Gallic atmosphere. An outside patio and smoking area features a refurbished trolley (not available during the preview) that Moix said people can sit inside. Can you say rendezvous?

Pour Vous banquettes

Various mirrors reflect light from chandeliers, table lamps and candles.

Pour Vous lounge

With a golden, domed skylight above and a crackling fireplace, the most coveted seats are sure to be at the cocktail tables in the lower lounge.

Menage a Trois

Ménage à Trois

Moix said that his role in creating the Pour Vous cocktail menu was like that of a conductor, offering suggestions and opinions while Fernie did the heavy lifting. The opening drink list of 25 cocktails is a collaborative effort, featuring contributions from each of the bartenders.

You know you’re in for a good time when your night starts with a Ménage à Trois: Roger Groult Reserve Calvados, Bache Cognac, Angostura Bitters, Regan’s Orange Bitters and evaporated cane syrup. Served over a big cube in an Old Fashioned glass, this was the perfect sipper to check out the intimate space as it quickly filled up with well-wishers.

Le Dance Diable

Le Dance Diable: Bache Cognac, Grenadine, Fernet, Maraschino, lemon bitters, lemon twist.

Le Catacomber

Le Catacomber: lemon, orgeat, Floc de Gascogne, Citadelle Gin, Angostura Bitters, orange twist.

Le Lapin Fou

Le Lapin Fou: c’est magnifique!

Then came Nader’s superb Lapin Fou (“Silly Rabbit”): eau de vie de poire (pear brandy), fresh carrot juice, fresh lemon juice, yellow chartreuse, ginger syrup, cane syrup, garnished with a cucumber ribbon. Though I have a ways to go before I get through the entire opening list, it’s going to be hard to top Le Lapin Fou, a wonderfully balanced and nuanced cocktail that actually gets even better as it opens up. Fellow imbibers seemed to agree; the bright orange cocktails were flying out of the bar at a rapid clip.

DJ Steve Livigni

Steve Livigni

Music is an integral part of all the Houston-owned venues, and as the night went on DJs (including Livigni) stepped behind the decks to lay down a thumping house groove. A fellow bar patron commented that the loud beats didn’t seem to match the decor. I was about to agree, when as if on cue a lovely lady behind us told her friend, “I LOVE this music!” (This is why I don’t own a bar, I only drink at them.)

While there isn’t a dress code per se, like La Descarga this is a place where you’ll want to look sharp. Because of the venue’s limited capacity, Moix noted that there will be a “tight door.” That said, Pour Vous is accepting reservations for groups of eight or more. It shouldn’t be hard to find seven friends to join you in spending a midnight in Paris. But if you still need help convincing them, beginning next week, Pour Vous will be serving oysters, chocolate and cheese. Ooh la la!

Pour Vous
5574 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

More photos of Pour Vous at the Thirsty in LA Facebook page.

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  1. Stacy on May 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Pour Vous is located on the east side of Melrose in a neighborhood difficult to navigate and impossible to park in at best. Across from Astoburger and next to a mechanic’s shop bordered by a chain link fence, with a dingy store front appearance, this bar certainly does not catch your eye.

    It tries to be LA uber-cool by having a post-modern “Duckie”-style (think “Pretty in Pink”) hipster at the door who metes out judgement about who can enter and who can’t, like a TSA agent determining who should get a full-body pat down. (Ooh, you should be so lucky!)

    We didn’t actually enter this unsigned, no-street-number watering hole because one of the people in our party did not meet dress code. Why? She was wearing a “summer color” – orange. When asked why this was a problem, “Duckie” informed us that they’re French and they don’t allow summer colors or sandals. That’s right, no sandals allowed, but worn out sneakers seemed to be just fine, as he informed the men in our group.

    Maybe they just don’t like women?

    My suggestion is to spend your money across the street at Astroburger. Try the Gardenburger Deluxe and onion rings if you are feeling decadent.

    Of course, if you are an eighties-style hipster with skinny jeans, pointy shoes and a bow tie, who is desperately seeking “The Scene” to make you feel like you’re part of it all, this may be the place for you.

    Beware, however, because no one who actually matters goes here, so your craving for feeling a part of the “LA Scene” will not be sated and you will likely be sorely disappointed.

    Whatever you do, don’t wear sandals (apparently they are a liability issue) avec summer colors which are completely unacceptable to LA French Hipsters.

    Oh, and if you complain you can expect the equally pathetic hipster manager to follow you down the street trying to justify their actions like a recently dumped girlfriend trying to get her boyfriend back after cheating on him.

  2. Not Stacy on November 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Wow. Bitter…Party of one!