Cocktail bars owned and run by women are about as rare in Paris as a Parisian street named after a woman. So you can imagine how thrilled we were to celebrate the opening of the female-run Abricot Bar, nestled deep in the hip 10th arrondissement. INSPIRELLE has known owners Jennifer Crain and Allison Kave since they first launched Izzy’s, one of the city’s only cocktail delivery services. We knew it was only a matter of time before their delicious California-inspired cocktails, mocktails, and vegan-friendly snacks would require a bricks-and-mortar place to call home.
At their soft opening in February 2023, we were welcomed with an itsy bitsy seasonal shot-of-the-day before sipping on the exotically delectable Garden of Eden mocktail and downing fistfuls of their addictive popcorn enhanced with Tajin spice. With its energetic crowd, fun decor and a cozy alcove at the back, Abricot Bar is really a perfect spot to bring friends for either a casual meetup or a festive celebration.
We caught up with owners Jennifer (who hails from California) and Allison (a transplant from New York) about how they got started, where they find inspiration, and why creating a comfortable and inclusive space for everyone became their shared goal.
How did two independent women like you from different parts of the United States both end up in Paris opening a cocktail bar?
I think, like many entrepreneurial stories, we arrived at opening a cocktail bar in Paris together unexpectedly. I had already lived in Paris for years and knew I wanted to contribute some part of my heritage here. It wasn’t obvious how, initially, because it’s already a culture rich in culinary traditions which I absolutely love, but I also really missed the cocktails and plant-based cuisine from California. Allison already had a thriving bar and bakery in Brooklyn and we were introduced via telephone by mutual friends. Through equal doses of love of Paris, shared inspiration and maybe a little craziness that we’ll call a sense of adventure, we hit it off and decided to collaborate on a cocktail bar that combined our talents, vision and experience. It was, as my mother would say, “Kismet”.
Your dream to mix creative cocktails began before the Covid-19 pandemic. Tell us how you kept this project alive.
We both are fatigued by the word “pivot”, but that is still probably the best word to describe how we kept the dream alive. There was a moment during the first confinement when a friend asked me, “what would happen if you stuck a label on the cocktails you were going to create for your bar, put them in to-go jars, and see what happens?” I called Allison and that’s how Izzy’s Paris cocktail delivery service was born. It was a perfect platform for honing our recipes and creative style together. And it helped us start to find our community.
Apricot Bar is promoted as a comfortable space “created by women for everyone.” What’s the vibe you hope to have at your bar?
Creating a warm, inclusive space is an important value for both of us.
We want Abricot to be a space where people can come together over great drinks and snacks and share a moment — festive or quiet — where they feel safe and accepted for who they are.
What this means is different for everyone, but as two women, one of our litmus tests is, “can I go here with a book and have a drink by myself and feel safe and at ease?” When we surveyed the scene at the bar last Saturday night and saw birthday partiers mingling with one another making new friends, while a woman read her book over a couple of cocktails at the other end of the bar, we knew we were on the right track.
You also offer plant-based delicious snacks such as popcorn with lime salt and a vegetarian taco trio. We also remember your delicious vegan pies from your Izzy’s delivery period. Can you explain the mix of alcohol and healthy munchies?
Well, I’m not sure how healthy our munchies are… 😉 But we do care that what we make is fresh, plant-based and homemade. I think one unfortunate misconception around vegan food is that it needs to be, by definition, healthy, or to be part of a certain dogma or lifestyle. It can be, but it can also be playful and indulgent. That’s part of what we wanted to create here, and another aspect of inclusivity. Everyone can enjoy vegan food, because it can be about what it includes, not what it avoids — it highlights fabulous fresh produce and ingredients and it can be fun and delicious. People eat plant-based for a variety of environmental, ethical, health reasons… and someone can eat plant-based for some meals and not others. There are a lot of choices here.
How do you concoct your cocktails? What inspires you?
There are many ways we get inspired. Our cultural heritage inspires us both.
Allison and I both share an Ashkenazi heritage, and my mother is Mexican, so a lot of our favorite flavor profiles come out of these traditions.
We both love a culinary approach to cocktails, and this can mean blending flavors from everywhere — from favorite savory meals to childhood, travel memories, or just getting creative with what’s in season at the marché. We’re even inspired by characters from TV! We based a cocktail on our current menu on one of the characters from a favorite show of ours, the Golden Girls. It’s amazing how far we can take the game of asking ourselves, what would Dorothy drink? Blanche? Rose? It helps that Allison has a special talent for translating all of these creative ideas and nostalgic flavor profiles into incredibly quaffable cocktails.
Can non-alcoholic drinkers find their happiness at Apricot?
We’re so glad you asked that, because it’s another important part of what we believe it means to be inclusive. Just because some people make a choice to not drink alcohol on a given night or as a regular lifestyle decision doesn’t mean that they don’t have a sophisticated palate, or that they don’t want to have a good time connecting with friends in a great environment. We’ve had periods in our lives where we didn’t drink alcohol at all. Or, sometimes, it’s just the decision we want to make that night. That doesn’t mean that we want something off the children’s menu. Our Garden of Eden mocktail, with passionfruit, nonalcoholic bitters, and citrus or our Gazoz, with housemade fermented shrubs, spice syrup, fresh herbs and seltzer are two examples of 0% alcohol bevs on our menu. And, of course, we’re down for people just coming in for the cornbread with maple butter or the chocolate chip halvah cookies.
In a country known for its wine and champagne, why are cocktail bars so different and popular?
We think that it’s probably because they’re different that cocktail bars here are increasingly popular. You can really go on a culinary adventure with a well-built cocktail. And France, as a culture, has such an appreciation for a culinary adventure. 🙂