At Papillon Champagne & Wine Bar there is no TV and no live music. Instead, there’s appealing background music, understated, yet sophisticated décor, soft, inviting lighting and thoughtful artwork.
“Our premise for beginning this business came out of our frustration in finding a place that serves really good wine and beer and has a pleasant atmosphere,” said Donna Ellis, who owns the bar with her husband and President Gilles Pichette.
The name Papillon is the French name for butterfly, and it is also the name of an exquisite breed of small dog. “Gilles and I have three of them and one has her likeness on our sign,” said Ellis.
The bar serves more than 30 wines by the glass, 75 bottle selections, domestic and imported cheeses and fine chocolates and confections, as well as 12 craft beers and three imports from Belgium.
“Some of the craft beers we carry are from Florida,” said Pichette. Pichette named Beach Blonde Ale, by 3 Daughters Brewing (St. Pete Beach); Wavemaker Amber Ale, by Big Storm Brewing Company (Odessa); Right on Red, by Orlando Brewing Partner (Orlando); Big Boca Ale by Fat Point Brewing (Punta Gorda); Florida Avenue Pale Ale, by Florida Avenue Brewing Company (Tampa) and Motorworks Indy Nitro IPA, by Motorworks Brewing (Bradenton).
Although these craft beers are brewed and bottled in Florida, they each offer their own unique flavor and style. “Right on Red is a medium-bodied, Irish-style ale that is loved for its impeccable balance,” said Pichette, who added that the caramel sweetness from the malts harmonizes with organic hops to create a crowd-pleasing, copper-colored brew.
Another crowd favorite is Big Boca Ale, offering “a mild and pleasant hop character that subtly hits you up front and finishes with spicy, herbal, and citrus tones,” explained Pichette.
“Wavemaker Amber Ale is perfectly balanced with caramel malt flavors, subtle floral presence and pleasant hop bitterness,” said Pichette.
Equally important to a fine wine or beer is the right pairing. “We pair our craft beers with different cheeses, Italian dry salami and also some chocolate truffles,” said Pichette. Pichette used the examples of how Right on Red pairs well with their aged gouda, Fat Point Brewing pairs well with their Cambozola light blue cheese, and Victory Storm Imperial Stout, by Victory Brewing Company (Pennsylvania) pairs well with their chocolate torte truffle.
Papillon Champagne & Wine Bar’s choice of chocolatier, Gabriella’s Chocolates in Venice, Florida, was as carefully selected as each one of the wines and beers they offer.
“Our wines and beers were selected to appeal to diverse tastes but are not beverages that you see anyplace else,” explained Ellis.
The variety of domestic and imported cheeses offered at Papillon are from the U.S., as well as Italy, Holland, Spain, Germany and France. Their cheese list highlights domestic and imported varieties known for their complex flavors.
“Our knowledgeable staff would be happy to recommend the best pairing for your wine or beer selection,” added Pichette.