Just a stone’s throw from the Italian border, Nice is France’s fifth-largest city and has an impressive choice of cocktail bars to match. Cradle a kir cocktail or sip on a spritz after a long day of sightseeing and sunbathing in this waterfront city.
There’s no disputing that rosé is the French Riviera’s signature drink. A chilled glass of this refreshing pink-hued wine is best enjoyed as an apéro (aperitif) on a sunny terrace during a bright summer’s afternoon.
But, in this corner of the world, there’s always the option of something a little more sophisticated, whether that’s a classic martini or an inventive concoction made with imaginative twists and innovative ingredients.
From hidden speakeasies to high-end hotels, the capital of the Côte d’Azur has a vibrant cocktail scene that caters to all tastes and occasions.
With its prime beachfront position on the famed Promenade des Anglais and its pink-and-white façade, Le Negresco has become an iconic institution in the city. For decades this five-star hotel has been the accommodation of choice for VIPs, from visiting dignitaries to Hollywood stars. However, you don’t have to be a hotel guest to soak up some of this legendary hotel’s history and grandeur; everyone is welcome in the hotel’s ground-floor bar. With its cosy nooks and turn-of-the-century walnut panelling, this bar is the perfect setting for celebrating a special occasion.
For those who prefer their cocktails to be served with a view over the city, Movida is a great choice. This trendy tapas bar can be found along Les Ponchettes, a row of historic 19th-century vaulted buildings set on the Quai des États-Unis. Located on Nice’s Vieille Ville – the city’s photogenic Old Town – the bar spills out onto the beachfront, meaning this popular drinking hotspot is just as busy during the day as it is at night. As for Movida’s extensive cocktail menu, you’ll quickly notice it is heavily slanted toward the house speciality: the mojito.
Bar, Restaurant, French, European, Mediterranean, Tapas, Beer, Wine, $$$
Since first opening its doors nearly a decade ago, this Nice tapas bar has become one of the city’s most popular destinations for live DJs and inventive cocktails. While the drinks menu includes all the classic cocktail concoctions, the bartenders here specialise in using both new and long-forgotten ingredients such as pandan (an herb that tastes like vanilla) and Suze (a French bitter) to craft new flavours. Be warned they don’t scrimp on the spirit measures. Rather than offering a house signature drink, the team here prefers creating new cocktails and, as a result, changes their cocktail list every few months.
You have to book well in advance to drink at Nice’s one-and-only hidden speakeasy. However, it’s worth the effort to access this dimly lit, Prohibition-era bar located in the centre of the city. Old Sport Club often has guest bartenders, who bring their individual touch to a seasonal cocktail list, many of which are made using Chartreuse – the green French liqueur that was famously first produced by Carthusian Monks in the 18th century.
Located in Nice’s central Fleurs neighbourhood, this pastel-pink hotel has been lovingly decorated with a collection of second-hand objects and furniture sourced from local antique shops and flea markets. However, you don’t have to stay a night at this trendy hotel to enjoy their bar. Order off their extensive cocktail list, which has plenty of inventive drinks to choose from, like the Romeo, made using gin and banana liqueur, and the Juliette, which is a concoction of vodka, lychee, raspberry and ginger.
The once nondescript streets between Place Garibaldi and the city’s yacht-lined port are now home to some of the trendiest spots in town, be that Michelin-starred restaurants, organic and natural wine bars or design boutiques. But despite the plethora of new openings over the last five or so years, one of the neighbourhood’s earliest residents is still one of its best: Le Comptoir Central Electrique. Once an old electrical store, the mood lighting, vintage furnishings and inviting lounges attract an arty, LGBTQ-friendly crowd. Choose from over two dozen cocktails, such as gin fizz and Americano.
Nice’s mild Mediterranean climate means that, come mid-spring, rooftop bars around the city are packed with residents looking for an al fresco bar. Set on top of the AC Marriott on the Promenade des Anglais, this leafy oasis is a popular choice as it overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. Do note that it is only open during the warmer months. The atmosphere is relaxed at this rooftop hotspot. It offers delicious tapas you can enjoy while watching planes gliding in to land over the Baie des Anges. Be sure to order a drink from their gin bar, where you can find a number of delicious gin-based cocktails.