Celebrated Parisian bar owners pick New Orleans for first project outside France - NOLA

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The first bar from Quixotic Projects was Candelaria in Paris' Marais neighborhood. It made drinks with tequila and mezcal, sold tacos and soon ranked among the top bars in the world. The group, two Americans and a Colombian, opened more celebrated bars and restaurants across Paris, including Glass, Hero and Le Mary Celeste.

Their next bar will be their first outside Paris. It will be in New Orleans, inside the new Maison de la Luz hotel at 546 Carondelet St., and will open in spring 2019.

“We want to bring the easy conviviality of French aperitif culture,” said Josh Fontaine, one of the three partners in Quixotic Projects. “Laid back, not pretentious. Drinks that are not going to knock you on your back after one or two.”

The bar, which does not yet have a name, will look to France, the French West Indies and New Orleans for inspiration and ingredients.

"There will be a little flair, a little bit of theater," Fontaine said. "But we're not taking anything too seriously. We want it to be fun."

The bar will also offer charcuterie, pickles and larger plates.

The 67-room Maison de la Luz hotel will be in a building that used to be a City Hall annex and most recently was a law office.

The hotel is being developed by The Domain Companies, which created the nearby South Market District. Atelier Ace, which runs the Ace hotel across the street, will operate Maison de la Luz in partnership with The Domain Companies.

"Working with experienced, creative and passionate partners is part of our ethos — we bring in talented collaborators and work together to develop our spaces, layering their distinctive tastes and expertise to manifest in a cohesive, singular vision," said Atelier Ace's president Brad Wilson in an email.

The bar from Quixotic Projects, however, will have a separate entrance and address from the hotel.

The bar will be in the law office's former library, and the decor will be a fantasy of a world traveler's personal library filled with mementos and memories.

"It's supposed to be like you're walking into someone's home library and you feel this conviviality," Fontaine said.

Fontaine, born in Connecticut, and his Quixotic Projects partners, the also-Connecticut-born Adam Tsou and Carina Soto Velasquez of Colombia, all met at the Experimental Cocktail Club, the bar that launched Paris' cocktail renaissance.

Soto Velasquez was the bar’s first employee. She was later Fontaine’s manager at the Experimental Cocktail Club. And Tsou drank there a lot.

"Contrary to popular belief, it's quite easy to open your business (in Paris) on a shoestring budget," Fontaine said.

In recent years, he said, Paris cocktail bars have been exploring the many spirits and liqueurs made in France, such as Lillet, Noilly Prat vermouth and the extra-bitter amaro Suze.

"You have this heritage of grandma drinks and spirits that bartenders like to use these days," he said.

The Quixotic Projects team is creating the menu for the New Orleans bar.

"The fun part is happening right now, which is the brainstorming and the back and forth," Fontaine said.

Once they're done with the fun part, they will be back regularly to check on the New Orleans bar.

“We’re not just doing a concept and letting it fly,” he said.

Jason Tsou