Again it’s time to put down the corkscrew. Get the lowdown (or should we say, the highball) on the best cocktail bars in Paris
Cocktails may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider Paris; the city is famous for its food and wine culture. But as far as swanky bars with intriguing drinks to sip, the City of Light hasn’t quite made a name for itself – yet.
Ernest Hemingway famously loved the bar at the Ritz so much that during the Liberation of Paris, the only thing he worried about liberating was its cozy yet swanky oak-paneled room. Today, the bar is named for the American writer, and the Hemingway Bar (15, place Vendôme (1e)) has been one of Paris’ famous cocktail spots for years, under the watchful eye and perfect pour of Colin Field, inventor of such drinks as the Serendipity, with Calvados, mint and champagne. Unfortunately for those who would follow in Hemingway’s footsteps, the bar closed for a two-year renovation in April. While you wait for it to reopen, try some of Paris’ newer hot cocktail spots.
The 40-seat Experimental Cocktail Club (37, rue Saint-Sauveur (2e)) has a New York vibe, from its English name to its tiny sign to its exposed brick walls … perhaps because the bar was designed by New Yorker Cuoco Black. ECC cocktails are constructed by talented bartenders and include the Brunette, a combination of cognac, chamomile syrup, vanilla, lemon and grapefruit. It’s the exclusive nature of this club that draws its fans, so be sure to get there early if you want a seat on the weekend.
The people behind the ECC have recently opened a steakhouse and speakeasy called, respectively, the Beef Club and Le Ballroom du Beef Club (58, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1e)), the latter being located in the basement of the steakhouse, giving it a bit of a prohibition vibe. The Ballroom serves up eight solid cocktails, including the Concombre fumant, a chartreuse-based cocktail with cooling cucumber and a spicy punch, and Marilou, made with berries and absinthe.
If mojitos are your thing, look no further than the Bacardi Mojito Lab (28, rue Keller (11e)), where you can get your hands on a traditional mojito – bien sûr –, but also a host of plays on the original, mixed up by Laurent Gréco. The mojito flambé is impressive: like flambéed desserts, the drink is served aflame! The mojitolada is a clever play on the piña colada, and the ginger mojito packs a spicy punch. The menu also offers fruity mojitos (which can be served virgin) and a small but impressive offering of dressed-up bar snacks like salmon on pumpernickel bread and shrimp bites.
If you’re traveling on a budget and still want to delve into the cocktail world in Paris, try Le Crocodile (6, rue Royer-Collard (6e)), just next door to the Sorbonne. This bar, which attracts students and young professionals alike, offers a cocktail list of over 300 drinks, some classics and others new and different. All are served for €9, or €6 at happy hour. The Rio Grande is a new challenge for lovers of the “little bit of everything” Long Island iced tea: cola is replaced with grenadine in this house favorite, which packs an alcoholic punch, so drink with caution! Every drink comes with a gummy crocodile at the bottom, which is a sweet treat at the end.
*Photo by philos from Athens