Le Quatrième Tiers – Bar with local spirit(s) in Montpellier
Montpellier is a lively university city in the south of France and has developed over the years into a city that can compete with international metropolises. The city owes this to its versatility – a combination of the Mediterranean way of life, a wide range of cultural activities, magnificent historical buildings, and modern architecture. And it’s only 10 km from the Mediterranean coast. The university looks back on a history that stretches back to the thirteenth century. Founded in 1220, the Faculty of Medicine is the oldest faculty still in operation in the western world. Montpellier’s old town l’Écusson has been around since the Middle Ages and has a vibrant bar and restaurant scene accompanied by the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the ready-to-explore South of France.
Le Quatrième Tiers opened its doors last year and is hidden in one of the small alleys in the old town. The name of the bar refers to a cult scene from Marcel Pagnol’s film Marius, when the owner of the bar reprimands his son on his job as bartender. It’s also a nod to that time of the great aperitif and cocktail culture in France.
As soon as you enter the bar you know you’re in for an extraordinary night. Surrounded by the exposed bricks of the old town with cosy and intimate lighting, you face the pleasantly lit bottle selection. This selection reveals the concept immediately: Focus on smaller handcrafted manufacturers and products, regional spirits but not too dogmatic. The dominant colours are the beige of the sandstone walls paired with the dark wood of the tables and the dark brown leather of the seating furniture. It’s a small bar with a capacity of 25 seats. Small vases with dried flowers and grasses decorate the tables. Minimalistic cosiness, I would say. In the basement, you’ll find another comfy seating area and a preparation kitchen. The seats at the bar are comfortable and have the perfect height. Everything is seamlessly stitched together – from interior to music – so the eyes and ears can relax too.
Simple yet sophisticated. This place ticks all my boxes.
Stylish and understated, attractively lit and atmospheric
with a warm welcoming spirit and a dash of laid-back coolness.
The brain behind it is Paul Périé, a native of Montpellier who began studying hospitality and catering at the age of fifteen. Five years later after experiences in the kitchen and in the dining room, he started in the bar world. A universe that merges his passion for cooking, knowledge of products, techniques and the association of flavours. After having deepened his professional experience abroad, he returned to Montpellier to share his passion for his beautiful profession and the cocktail culture.
I sit at the bar and think about what makes a bar my favourite bar. Strong character, good spirit(s), dedication and passion. The ethos of this bar is brilliant: an independent selection of spirits, clear ice, elegant glassware, high-quality coasters, heart, soul and passion. The bar team uses mainly local spirits, the processing of the ingredients and extraction of the flavours is done with techniques from the Michelin-starred kitchen. When selecting products, aspects such as seasonality, sustainability and also collaborations with producers are taken into account. An ice block machine was purchased for clear ice that plays an essential part in the drinks. The team is committed to hospitality and professionality. You’ll also find Ludo Dardaine working here. Watching Ludo and Paul doing their magic is a sheer pleasure.
What does “bar” mean to you, I ask Paul. “A bar is life, a bar is home, a place for people and mainly for pleasure.” This is what he has successfully implemented at Le Quatrième Tiers.
Deliciousness meets craftsmanship: the menu varies and evolves according to the seasons and lists eleven cocktails, one of which is non-alcoholic. The creations are Mediterranean – inspired and made from fresh, exceptional products, mostly local and meticulously selected. For the hungry ones, there is exclusive bar food available.
My first drink of choice was Outrenoir, described as complex, smoked and umami. In a tumbler, a large ice cube took a bath in a black liquid. The name is inspired by the black paintings of the artist Pierre Soulages. His “Outrenoir”, which means Beyond Black, made Soulages internationally famous. The drink is a marriage of Armagnac, cherry, black lime (a sour lime or lemon, which is soaked in salt water and then dried, the taste is fruity, somewhat tart and sweetly earthy) and hay. This was my first taste sensation and called for more.
Clever and creative cocktails. Chapeau!
Drinks are vivid taste sensations from glassware to crystal clear ice.
The whole menu plays with flavours and textures and is incredibly delicious. Besides cocktails the bar specialises in craft spirits and is constantly expanding its stock. Big brands that you still find in the bar today will slowly be replaced. The cocktails at Le Quatrième Tiers are special and taste is always the heart of the drinks. One is already anchored in the depths of my taste memory, which happens rarely but for which I love my adventures all the more. Vidourlade combines cognac, plum, hazelnut, cumin, cardamon and verjus in such a complex and full-bodied way that every sip is a pleasure. It’s served in an unobtrusive mug and inspired by the historical floods of the Vidourle, a river that crosses the Gard and Hérault départements before flowing into the Mediterranean. Drinks are so incredibly elegant and perfectly balanced, no chance to resist (and no need anyways). You can argue about taste, but not about quality.
There are many good bars, but only a few that stand out significantly from others. Some bar adventures are just like little love stories. Le Quatrième Tiers was love at first sight. I went there three times during my stay in Montpellier for the delicious drinks and the incredibly charming bar team. When people ask me why I keep travelling around and visiting bars, discovering bars like this is the answer. A bar that has its own identity and puts so much heart into giving people a good time. Hard to leave but easy to return.
Visit the website https://www.barlequatriemetiers.com/