Beaujolais night is, quite simply, the wildest time we’ve ever had in a French restaurant. And for anyone who lives near one that celebrates this right, it is a must.
The concept is simple: Beaujolais nouveau translates to new Beaujolais, which is a wine-making region in France. A young wine traditionally drunk by peasants, its light, fruity nature makes it best suited for throwing back, rather than sipping; and to make sure the product is as nouveau as it promises, it can’t be served until the third Thursday of November.
Which, if one thinks about it, begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning.
Which is as good a time as any to drink as much as we can.
Which we did at Bistrot du Coin, a fun and fantastic little French restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s DuPont Circle.
Inside, we were greeted by Yannis Felix, who opened Bistrot du Coin in 2000 with Michel Verdon. At 9 p.m., there was already a line around the corner, and while guests wrapped up their dinners, the whole spot began to fill up.
And it’s about as real a deal as we can find outside of France. Even the guests seem to fit in.
Prime real estate for Beaujolais night — and most nights at Bistrot du Coin — is at the bar, where we prepared for an evening of excessive wine drinking with glasses of Leffe Brune, assorted meats and cheeses, plus some of the best foie gras in town — all served by the lovely and talented Hamere.
But it isn’t too long before things start to get wild in the old bistrot, and as the visiting French DJs begin to crank the music up, some lights go down while other go up.
And, of course, the sunglasses come out.
As midnight approaches — and after a few hours of imbibing — Yannis takes the stage, climbing atop the bar…
…takes full bottles of this year’s Beaujolais nouveau…
….and hands them to the thirsty masses, in what looks like a joyous, early scene from the French Revolution — to a pumping beat. And, of course, some smoke, fire and much merriment.
By 12:15 Thursday morning, Yannis and his people had handed out 20 cases of the new vintage. And by the time the party wrapped up in the early hours of the morning, well, things got a little hazy.
Suffice it to say, getting to work in the morning was a blast.