“My grandmother used to tell me stories about the elegant parties she attended years ago,” says Ann DesRuisseaux, owner of Le Bar in Palm Beach. “I dreamed about it for years, and I wanted a place where everyone would feel comfortable enough to dance or sing along at the piano.”
Open since early December, Le Bar is a bar à vin in the European tradition. The space is framed by Baccarat chandeliers, gilt-edged mirrors, vintage pictures of island life, a long mahogany bar—and, of course, a white baby grand.
Decor is just a small part of the equation, even though DesRuisseaux decorated the former bank building herself. There’s voluptuous food (deviled eggs topped with caviar, black truffle flatbread) and 45 wines by the glass, along with a list of bottles not readily available elsewhere and a resident sommelier. If you’re not an oenophile, you can indulge in one of the innovative craft cocktails developed by a barman who used to be a biologist in Argentina. Don’t miss the Invisible Margarita and the Green Goddess.
DesRuisseaux, an attorney, jokes that “all lawyers who pass the bar eventually feel they need to own a bar.” For her, the nostalgia of the setting is mixed with a thread of practicality. “As I got older, I wanted to eat lighter,” she admits. “I didn’t necessarily want a three- or four-course meal. An evening of small plates shared with friends was perfect.”
Le Bar is licensed for retail sales as well as consumption on the premises, and DesRuisseaux is developing new ways to serve clientele. Customers can sit at the bar and peruse the wine list while they grab a glass of Cristal 2007 or Dom Pérignon 2009, preserved by the Perlage system. When they’ve made their selections, the bottles can be delivered to their home. “It’s a very different experience than walking through a liquor store with a cart,” DesRuisseaux notes.