While the French love affair with fine wine is long documented, Paris’s cocktail scene is still relatively young. True, there are noteworthy historic venues such as Harry’s New York Bar and the Bar Hemingway at the Ritz, but these have always catered mainly to American expats and visitors.
All this changed with the opening of the Experimental Cocktail Club in 2007. This revolutionary bar kick-started a native demand for bespoke mixed drinks made with top-quality ingredients used in ever more creative ways. It also inspired a new generation of bartenders, who went on to open their own cocktail bars.
Today, visitors to Paris can find a good cocktail with an ease that would have seemed impossible a decade ago. What’s even more exciting is the fact that local bartenders are adding a distinctive Gallic twist to traditional cocktails, using classic French spirits. With such a variety of options on offer, one doesn’t have to be a connoisseur to appreciate the city’s cocktail scene.
Those looking for something to eat as well as a drink should head to Clamato, sister bistrot to Michelin-starred Septime. The place has an informal feel, a no-reservations policy and the friendly staff are always happy to guide visitors through the seafood-dominated menu. In addition to its excellent fishy tapas, Clamato is known for its classic Bloody Mary. As one would expect of any decent establishment in Paris, the wine list is also superb.
Clamato, 80 rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris, +33 (0)1 4372 7453
Hidden within a small taco restaurant, this dimly lit bar would be easy to miss if one didn’t know where to look. However, after four consecutive years on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, word is definitely spreading about its exceptional drinks and intimate vibe. Owners Adam Tsou, Josh Fontaine and Carina Soto Velasquez change the menu regularly, but visitors stepping through the unmarked door know that they are sure to taste some of the city’s best cocktails.
Candelaria, 52 rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris, +33 (0)1 4274 4128
Little Red Door
Unlike the speakeasies of Prohibition-era America, Little Red Door is accessible without a password. It’s also not very hidden, located as it is in the hip neighbourhood of Haut-Marais. Instead, it has taken speakeasy-style décor and given it a Parisian spin – think exposed brickwork and antique glassware – to create a bar with just the right amount of mystery. As for the cocktails, head bartender Rémy Savage was named World’s Most Imaginative Bartender by Bombay Sapphire in 2014.
Little Red Door, 60 rue Charlot, 75003 Paris, +33 (0)1 4271 1932
Situated in the opulent surroundings of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Le Bar is every inch the luxury hotel bar. From the chandelier to the abundance of mahogany, and the red velvet chairs to the formally clad bartenders, this is Parisian chic at its finest. Unsurprisingly, the menu features a number of champagne cocktails, alongside long and short drinks. For the late crowd, there is also a list of after-dinner classics on offer.
Le Bar, Four Seasons Hotel George V, 31 avenue George V, 75008 Paris, +33 (0)1 4952 7000