Above: the “Tropical Cafe” bar at La Pagerie (CJ Photo)
By Alexander Britell
TROIS ILETS —It was crowded in the lobby, with a pulsing biguine beat and a group of vibrant Creole dancers.
When I first arrived at the, bright-white bar at Le Pagerie in Martinique, there was a very entertaining rum tasting going on in the lobby.
So I sat down to a stool and watched — the colours of the clothing, the booming voice of the man leading the tasting and that always-romantic French Caribbean rhythm.
The hotel bar at La Pagerie in the beach town of Trois-Ilets, was small —it was just two sides of a square, with a few stools and a some tables scattered in a thin hallway at the edge of the lobby — almost more of a small storefront than a bar.
The “Tropical Cafe,” as it was called, was bright white, with a multi-hued selection of mostly local rums and a general grouping of whiskies, liqueurs and the like.
Behind the bar was Cedric, the kind of earnest, driven barman that could take a small, unassuming bar and make it something more.
And each night before dinner, I’d return at 7 PM, order from Cedric what became my usual (a Depaz VSOP, neat) and watch what was happening in the lobby.
Sometimes there was a rum tasting, other times a drumming band.
It became a kind of home on a long trip to a faraway island. On a long trip to an exotic place, it became a fixed point.
As any great hotel bar should be.