By Dr. Ink
It’s called “Death in the Afternoon,” a bubbly cocktail invented by Ernest Hemingway after he delved into the literary and epicurean culture of Paris in the 1920s. Bars were part of his odyssey, and so were absinthe and Champagne.
Named after his nonfiction book published a decade later, the high-strength cocktail combines both libations in a fluted glass, casting a greenish-yellow glow exactly how you’ll find it presented at Pardon My French Bar & Kitchen on the eastern side of Park Boulevard on the North Park/Hillcrest border.
The drink is on Pardon’s expanded craft cocktail list and sells for $8 during happy hour, which is three bucks cheaper than regular price. But lightweights beware. When absinthe with its subtle anise flavor joins forces with effervescent Champagne, you may find yourself blurting to nearby patrons, “pardon my swagger” if exceeding more than one glass.
In a 1935 cocktail book titled “So Red the Nose,” the recipe includes a footnote stating: “Drink three or four of these slowly” — a risky endorsement wrapped in cautionary advice.
With car keys in my pocket, I paced myself with only one, during which I ordered a basket of house-made potato chips served with classic French aioli to soak up the increasing buzz. The drink was strong and refreshingly delicious, accented here with a wide slice of lemon rind.
Pardon My French is the incarnation of Heat Bar & Kitchen, which shifted ownership recently to a barely-noticeable change of aesthetics. Still intact are the warm, orange lighting accents and the illuminated “lava wall.” The space also extends to a spacious side patio and a quainter outdoor seating in the front.
The food menu, though, has been revised with French-inspired dishes such as roasted duck breast, steak frites, and tarte flambé with ham and emmental cheese. The latter appears on the happy-hour menu for a reduced price of $12.
Less expensive noshes include mixed nuts ($3); the house chips ($4); truffle-Parmesan fries ($5); and beef, salmon or pork belly sliders ($9).
All craft cocktails are $8 during happy hour. There are about 15 to choose from, including the French blonde made in part with gin and grapefruit juice; a cucumber mule; and a stirred sour combining 1792 Bourbon and limoncello — all appealing come-ons to the arrival of summer.
In addition, well drinks and craft beers sell for $5, and house wines by the glass are $6. Although for as long as Hemingway’s brainchild of a drink remains on the menu, I’ll opt for it again, and probably get two before summoning car service.