Tucked away at the back of the world-famous Hotel Ritz, is Bar Hemingway, opened by Brit bartender Colin Field in 1994. But, unsurprisingly its history runs far deeper. Named in honour of its most famous regular, gonzo war correspondent Hemingway liberated the bar from the Nazis after WW2 - before ordering champagne for everyone inside. It’s also allegedly the birthplace of the Bloody Mary, a fact hotly disputed by head bartender at Harry’s New York Bar, another famed twenties hangout.
Quarrels aside, you can understand why it feels acceptable to be surrounded by well-heeled Americans in the centre of the French capital. This richly wood-panelled watering hole is a shrine to the author – walls are adorned with photos of authors he admired, boxes of fly-tying paraphernalia and a framed pack of his Lucky Strike cigarettes. Even the menu is printed like a newspaper, the aptly named Hemingway Star – which lists over twenty original cocktails, all with a backstory. From the Picasso Martini (a badass dry martini with a frozen cube of vermouth) to the French 75, these are as old-school as it gets.
Drink envy, or at least severe curiosity, is guaranteed – glasses come draped in fruits, herbs or flowers, like props in Renaissance paintings. Ostentatious they might be, but it's no distraction from such well made concoctions. The Duff Gin; home macerated gin with rosemary and basil, salted lemon and olive leaf is pleasantly savoury and Colin Field’s signature creation, The Sorrento, is summer in a glass: Limoncello, prosecco and orange bitters on ice.
The bustle begins from 7pm onwards and wait staff, dressed in immaculate whites, are attentive yet unobtrusive, refilling olives and nuts with swift precision. Word of warning – the spiced macadamias are dangerously moreish. Eat with restraint – or cancel your dinner reservation. If money is no object (cocktails are an eye watering €30), while away an evening in this luxe leathery snug. Or treat yourself to just one and stumble back out onto Place Vendome, smug in the knowledge you’ve just quaffed a glass of literary history. Hem would have been proud.