Guest post from Jenny Bailey
Paris is well known for its classy bars serving up fine wine and sophisticated champagne. However with the opening of a handful of New York-style cocktail bars in recent years, the mighty cocktail has blossomed in popularity. Nowadays cocktail aficionados don’t have to look too hard to find a great bar in the city, but neither do holidaymakers just looking for a good drink somewhere with a view. Here are three of the best bars in the city:
Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel
This bar contains so much history that it just had to be included. Not only is it situated in one of the best Paris hotels, but the bar itself has seen some shenanigans. The bar was named after Ernest Hemingway who lived in the Ritz for years alongside other famous residents, such as Coco Chanel. The Hemingway bar is alleged to be the birthplace of the Bloody Mary – a drink invented for the great man himself. It is also the bar in which Audrey Hepburn was talked into stealing an expensive statue by Peter O’Toole in the film How to Steal a Million. Nowadays, the Hemingway Bar is famous for being home to the World’s Best Barman – Colin Field – whose exotic, original cocktails have earned him the accolade.
Experimental Cocktail Club
The Experimental Cocktail Club is a speakeasy situated on the Rue de Saveur – just keep your eyes peeled for a non-descript black door in need of a paint job. Once you enter the building you’ll come across a small room with chandeliers, exposed brick-work and room for 40 people in-the-know. This fashionable bar has attracted celebrities from director Quentin Tarantino to designer Phillippe Starck. Not bad considering that the bar was initially considered to be a failure because – as the New York Times reported – no one in France typically drinks cocktails. Well, they certainly drink them here and the bar’s signature cocktail, Experience 1 – made with lemon grass, basil, and elderflower cordial – is extremely popular.
Le Bar Du Plaza Athenee
If Le Bar Du Plaza Athenee looks familiar it’s because it featured on the final episode of Sex and the City. Of all the hotels in Paris, this contains one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower and Carrie was lucky enough to benefit from this backdrop by staying in the hotel’s Eiffel Tower Suite. These incredible views of Paris’s most famous monument extend to the bar and Sex and the City addicts will be pleased to know that bartenders here can make a mean Cosmopolitan. Those that are neither keen on Cosmos or Carrie shouldn’t be discouraged. The cocktails are varied and creative – with black Cosmopolitans and Mojitos offering up a unique spin on the original recipe. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights after 11pm, the bar changes from a calm blue to a rock-ready red and electronic rock music pumps out of the speakers.
Le Yono in the Marais District is the perfect place for those that like their cocktails with a side of dancing. Pumping out thumping electro music, this bar is seriously cool and patrons take to the cave-like space to dance the night away under the gaze of the city’s best DJs. The best thing about Le Yono is that the cocktails are quite reasonably priced and the cocktail menu is fairly comprehensive. Their mojitos are perhaps the most popular drink on the menu and mixed to perfection. The bar’s happy hour is between 6 and 8.30 and beers are also available at happy hour prices. Tapas dishes can be enjoyed as bar snacks, which friends can enjoy together hot or cold.
For those who prefer fine wine…
Le Baron Rouge
Finally, for those traditionalists who prefer a nice glass of wine over a zingy cocktail, Le Baron Rouge is the venue to visit, as it excels in fine French wines. Inside the bar the back wall is lined with barrels full of wine, this is one of the few places in the city where people can stock up on wine and buy it by the litre – which many of the locals still do. Of course, they still sell wine by the glass and the prices are reasonable enough that this place is packed most nights. In addition, customers can buy small plates of food to accompany their wine such as cheese and charcuterie, and on Sundays oysters are sold.
This is just a small selection of some of the many great bars that visitors can discover and enjoy in Paris. There may have been a time several years ago when Paris was considered to be seriously lagging in the cocktail stakes. However, the opening of many new cocktail bars show that Paris’s cocktail revival is in full swing. Whether you prefer cocktails or fine wine – you’ll be able to find a great bar in the city catering to your taste buds.