- Nina Sparling
In the past few years, cocktail bars have taken off in Paris as the food and drink scene challenges the bounds of French traditions. These nine bars range in ambiance from curated to dive-y to kitsch, but all deliver with drinks done right. Plan a couple of nights to explore the best Paris has to offer.
Walk in to Dirty Dick and find yourself in a circa 1950s tiki wonderland, complete with posters of pin up girls and palm trees. The drinks, though, are the real draw – a mix of new takes on classic cocktails and house specials, with a focus on all things rum. Split a flaming conch shell full of punch with a few friends to get the night started.
Red House takes the ambiance of an American dive bar and adds top-notch cocktails and great music to it. The five euro house negroni is a classic, but the seasonal cocktail menu is not to be missed. Autumn specials include the Nightbird, a smoky treat for the sophisticated drinker, and Cassarette’s Dream, which tastes something like a gin-infused rosemary shortbread lollipop.
Across the street from Dirty Dick is Glass, a minimalist bar with excellent drinks that caters to spirit lovers and beer fanatics. Both the cocktail and beer menus change often – check in with the knowledgeable staff about what you like, and they are sure to deliver. Glass also hosts DJs every weekend. Another plus – Glass serves excellent hot dogs that satisfy inevitable late night cravings.
Candelaria was opened back in 2011 by the team that is now behind a number of top-notch bars and restaurants in Paris. The tacos alone are reason enough to visit, but don’t miss the speakeasy downstairs with some of the best tequila and mezcal drinks in town. The classic house cocktail La Guêpe Verte is not to be missed. A killer combination of pepper-infused tequila, cucumber, cilantro, agave and lime, this takes the margarita to a whole new level.
L’Entrée des Artistes
Just around the corner from Le Kitch, L’entrée des Artistes is tucked away on the rue Crussol, easy to miss. The cocktail menu includes excellent classics and house specials in a relaxed space. The bar focuses on innovative cocktails but also has a great wine list and a menu of seasonal small plates. The music never fails to please with a great mix of jazz, funk, hip-hop, and soul.
Situated right between Bastille and Republique, Le Kitch is the perfect cocktail bar to start a night out. Happy hour runs late, and everything is nearby. The interior is, well, kitsch, complete with stuffed animals and Formica tables. The crowd is laid back and the drinks are strong (with silly names to boot).
Tucked away on the rue Mazarine in the sixth arrondissement, Prescription Cocktail Club mixes drinks in style. Owned by the team behind the Experimental Cocktail Club, excellent and creative drinks are guaranteed here. The combination of exposed brick walls and Victorian wallpaper gives the bar an ambiance somewhere between Paris, New York and London. Skip the sensory overload of the well-known Saint-Germain-des-Près cafes for a quieter evening with much better drinks.
The newest on the list, Gravity Bar opened this past August next to the Canal Saint Martin. The vaulted space exhibits bottles of spirits glowing and lit from behind. The food, drink and design work to transport you beyond the grim days of Paris winter. The interior is decidedly modern, featuring clean lines, warm yellow light, tiled walls and an open kitchen. Small plates highlighting local, seasonal produce accompany expert cocktails.
Decorated with peeling vintage posters, that Left Bank spirit feels alive and well at Le Crocodile. The clientele ranges from university students looking to let loose and old regulars who have been living in the sixth arrondissement for decades. Everyone drinks side-by-side, spilling out into the street. The bar makes over 200 varieties of cocktails.
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