It’s said that 63 years ago, Ernest Hemingway rode down the Champs-Elysées in the turret of an American tank and “liberated” the bar at the Ritz Hotel. In memory of this great event is the Hemingway Bar, tucked away on the Rue Cambon side of the hotel, and one of the world’s great watering holes. Colin Field is the outstanding barman who presides over the Hemingway with aplomb. Every cocktail or glass of champagne is served with an exotic orchid or other beautiful flower, and the Heineken is always chilled to perfection. Fluent in English and French, Colin has written a great book called The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris.
A few months ago, after a great victory in Paris, I was joined in the Hemingway Bar by Sean Fitzpatrick, Murray Mexted, Gary Whetton and Earl Kirton. We were joined by a few other notable All Blacks and a couple of my old school mates, Dave Bennetts and Phillip Sycamore. Dave and Philip are now both deeply involved in the legal profession, on the right side of the law, as it happens. Benny is a solicitor and Phillip a high court judge. No one would ever have picked this outcome at school in Lancashire where both of them were more well-known for their antics at the Broadway Hotel and Floral Hall in Morecombe. We closed the bar around 3:00am and did our best to move forward l’Entente cordiale. The French love their rugby, and for them the pinnacle is to beat the All Blacks. It all looks promising for a huge Hemingway Bar party on October 20 when the final Rugby World Cup 2007 should see the All Blacks and Les Bleus on the Stade de France that evening. As it is also my birthday, I’m hoping for a double celebration with an All Black victory. Whoever wins, it will be a night to remember in Paris.