The 9 Best Bars in Paris Right Now
Paris may be best known for its vibrant café culture, but the cosmopolitan capital is no slouch when it comes to cocktails (or beer or wine), either. Drinking and eating go hand in hand in this city, so you won’t have to walk far to find somewhere to imbibe. From New Orleans-fashioned speakeasies in South Pigalle to underground craft beer bars in Ménilmontant, here are nine places to score a proper pour.
1. Le Syndicat
On a quickly gentrifying street near Gare du Nord, in Paris’ 10th, Le Syndicat hides behind a flurry of forgotten posters. Pass through the nondescript entrance, though, and you’ll find cocktails that are far from forgettable—the menu was designed by of co-founders Sullivan Doh (a former Sherry Butt bartender) and cocktail blogger Romain le Mouellic. The bar is done up in grit-meets-glamour fashion with garage-esque pegboard walls, sharpie-scrawled messages, and shimmering metallic curtains, and is one of the first places to whip up tipples with entirely French ingredients. Grab a whisky flight, a six-person rum punch, or a Modern Thyme (Corsican myrtle liqueur, apricot liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime), then find a place to sit and settle in for some old-school hip-hop.
2. Lulu White
Absinthe and dancing are the name of the game at Lulu White, a speakeasy named for one of New Orleans’ most notorious madams. The watering hole rubs shoulders with Dirty Dick and Les Justes on Rue Frochot in South Pigalle, which is just a stone’s throw from Montmartre’s labyrinthine streets. The entrance is spartan save for a brass engraving of White’s 1920s mugshot, but once you enter, you’ll be treated to Art Deco everything—from mirrored ceilings to a turn-of-the-century absinthe fountain. Saddle up to the bare-bulb-ringed bar and order from an array of cocktails, like the Denial is not a River in Egypt (cognac, fresh dill, lapsang tea kombucha, and champagne), and seasonal slushies. As if it was even a question, jazz is always on offer, too.
3. Sherry Butt
France’s Experimental Group has played no small role in the evolution of Paris’ cocktail scene. The Prescription Cocktail Club, Grand Pigalle Hotel, and Balagan all come courtesy of the revolutionary bar/hotel/restaurant empire, so it should come as no surprise that Sherry Butt—an intimate, innovative spot on the south side of the Marais—is also their creation. Named for a whiskey-aging barrel (not the Andalusian liquor), the bar opened back in 2012 and hasn’t lost any love since. Inventive house cocktails like the Garibaldi (campari, yuzushu sake, citrus syrup, lemon juice, and soda) are written in chalk just above the bar and the whiskey list is nice and long. The crowd here skews younger (think 20s and 30s) and there are plenty of dimly lit tables to tuck away at, so it’s great for a Parisian date night.
4. Septime La Cave
Septime may have opened way back in 2011, but chef Bertrand Grébaut’s Michelin-starred tasting menu still draws gourmands in droves. If you weren’t able to score a reservation or you’re just killing time before dinner, pop over to La Cave, the restaurant’s snug satellite bar tucked into a former shoe shop. The wine cellar is just as much of a destination as its perennially-packed sibling and is all about natural wines and small, shareable plates. Sip on a biodynamic vintage (the bartenders can explain what exactly that means) and try not to fill up on too much Ardèche sausage and toast topped with smoked butter and black truffle pre-meal.
We’re suckers for interesting venues, and boy does Danico deliver with what we can only call real Russian nesting doll gusto. The chic cocktail bar is tucked behind Daroco Bourse, an Italian trattoria housed in Jean Paul Gaultier’s former flagship store which itself is located in one of Paris’ most iconic arcades—Galerie Vivienne. Inside, Nico de Soto (of Mama Shelter, Mace, and the former Curio Parlor) kitted out this elegant hot spot with green velvet armchairs, a chevron marble bar, and bespoke, ink-inspired wallpaper dreamt up by French tattoo artist SupaKitch. Either way you choose to enter—slipping in via Passage Vivienne or weaving your way through the trattoria—is fine by Danico’s nautical-striped bartenders, who serve up fun concoctions like The Nut on Cauliflower Street (hazelnut oil cognac, hazelnut milk, cauliflower ice cream, and salt).
6. Les Trois 8
If 16€ cocktails and fussy décor just aren’t your thing, maybe Les Trois 8 will do the trick. A local-heavy crowd flows in and out of this hole-in-the-wall craft beer bar in the working-class Ménilmontant neighborhood, whose dark brick walls, mixed bag of art, and steady punk rock rotation give it an underground vibe. On the menu: eight delightfully affordable drafts on tap, more than 100 bottled options, and a handful of natural wines for your IPA-averse friends.
7. Little Red Door
If complicated code words and ‘hidden’ entrances have you ready to cancel speakeasies as a whole, think again. This trendy Marais hangout from Timothée Prangé and Dotan Shalev (the same duo behind Lulu White) sidesteps overwrought details in favor of a single nod to Prohibition-era saloons: a bright red door (which isn’t actually the entrance—look left!). Once through the real door, you’ll find the look is standard hipster fare: exposed brick walls, knicked tabletops, flickering candles, and well-loved leather armchairs. Grab a cocktail like the Hygge (Hudson Baby bourbon, maple sap wine, ‘cosy red fruit,’ and poppy seed) or go off-menu with a bartender’s choice, then try to snag a spot on the small mezzanine—your best angle for people watching.
8. Bar Hemingway
Whether you’ve read A Moveable Feast cover to cover or you haven’t yet cracked a Hemingway tome, there’s a lot to love about this Ritz-Carlton bar. The handsome drinking den is, of course, named for the famed author, and while historians have contested his account of liberating the Ritz post-WWII, that fact is neither here nor there. Step inside and you’ll find a refined gentlemen’s club awash with curios (think hunting trophies and framed cigarettes) and stately leather armchairs. With only 25 seats, the bar attracts quite a queue, but if you get there early enough, strike up a conversation with Colin Field. The head bartender has been at the helm since Bar Hemingway’s 1994 debut and has ushered in quite a few signature drinks including the Serendipity—a mix of Calvados pays d’Auge VSOP, clear apple juice, sugar, fresh mint, and brut champagne which is served up in a highball glass.
If dimly lit cocktail bars give you a serious case of anxiety—cue attempts at reading menus via your phone’s backlight—give Bisou. a go. With no menu to speak of, there’s no chance of reading anything wrong or frantically Googling “what is écume de lavande??” before someone spots you. Simply tell the bartender what type of drink you like—words and phrases like fruity, dry, frozen, or “tastes like there’s absolutely no liquor” will work—and they’ll whip up something that’s tailored to your tastes. Match that with the bar’s airy interior and soft décor (think pink and white bistro sets, a long marble bar, and loads of whimsical flower arrangements) and it’s quite fitting for a pre-dinner tipple, too.
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