Novelist Alexander Maksik lives in Paris. Of course he found the perfect bar.
PARIS – Rosebud is a winter bar. A place to come when it's dark early. I found it in December, my second year in Paris. I was very cold, coming home from a party. I passed by and saw their art nouveau lamp glowing in the window. I liked the look of it, the lamp, the blue velvet curtains, the quiet hum of conversation.
To look at it, rue Delambre is unremarkable. Except that Man Ray lived there. And André Breton. And Paul Gauguin. And Henry Miller with June. And it was on this street, at the Dingo Bar, that Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald in April 1925. Sartre lived there too, and while the Dingo bar has given way to an Italian restaurant, Rosebud remains. And it's a beautiful place.
Inside, the light is low. A photo of a young Marguerite Duras hangs discreetly behind the bar, which runs the length of the room, a stack of jazz records at one end. The wood shines under years and years of lacquer.
That first night it was quiet, John Coltrane playing softly, only a few habitués at one of the low banquets beneath the massive mirror. I spent three martinis talking to Michel, one of Rosebud's two barmen. A raconteur, he wore a white jacket and a black tie, his gray hair swept back. He was warm and funny and told me stories of tending bar in New York and Baden Baden. I watched him make his favorite cocktail, the Pick Me Up (you have to go to know), and line them up for the young waiter in matching white jacket.
For me, it is the best of France: a place of permanence, of ritual, of detail. It's the bar I was looking for when I moved to Paris. And ever since that night, whenever I return, Michel shakes my hand and smiles and makes me believe that it is his Paris that will win out, that all the encroaching mobile phone stores and Starbucks are just a passing phase.
11 bis rue Delambre
Paris, France 75014
FOR YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE
, Alexander Maksik's debut novel