Paris may well have been the world’s ultimate cocktail city during the roaring ’20s, but it’s only recently regained its stripes when it comes to mixology worth splashing out on. Head here today, and in among the glut of beer and wine bars, you’ll find inventive cocktail dens blossoming all over the city. From the oh-so-British Cambridge Public House to charming Cravan – which specialises in inter-war mixes but does away with the overdone Prohibition vibes – there’s all manner of fabulous new openings you should check out. Feeling thirsty? These are the coolest, most stylish and best-value cocktail bars in Paris right now.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Paris
Best cocktail bars in Paris
What’s the deal? If you like your music and you like your drink (that’ll be most of you, then), try Fréquence. The dozens of soul and reggae sleeves behind the counter give a good indication as to what you’ll hear here. The cocktails are diverse – and, crucially, they taste properly gorgeous.
What should I drink? The smoky, acidic Fernando Sancho (€12), with mezcal, aquavit, orange syrup and lime.
Where? 20 Rue Keller, 11th
What’s the deal? This cosy Belleville hangout is talked about for a reason. The setting’s laid-back, the staff friendly and the cocktails, well, they’re superb. Elena Schmitt and Margot Lecarpentier (ex-Experimental Cocktail Club) know their way round a well-balanced mix, and their new opening, not far from the Parc de Belleville, delivers. The food’s good, too – try the terrine (€8) with gherkins and rustic Thierry Breton bread.
What should I drink? The Bérégovoy (30&40 calvados, Ferrand cognac, Madeira Verdelho, Dry Ferrand curaçao and Scrappy’s orange bitters).
Where? 63 Rue de Belleville, 19th
What’s the deal? Kitschly sparkly, bronze-hued and hidden behind a decrepit façade, Sullivan Doh and Romain Le Mouëllic’s dive bar is fashionably vintage in more ways than one – the menu also places a focus on little-known French liqueurs (eaux de vie, cognacs, armagnacs) and blends them in to-die-for contemporary concoctions. Whether you go for an updated classic or a daring modern creation, you’ll quickly realise why we named this the best bar in Paris.
What should I drink? You can’t beat the Nevez old fashioned with Breton whiskey and chouchen, a kind of mead.
Where? 51 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10th
What’s the deal? If the pinkish, plant-filled, half-in half-out setting weren’t fun enough for you, just wait until you hear what’s on the menu – anything you bloody like. Here, just around the corner from the thronging Rue Oberkampf, you simply tell bartender Nicolas what sort of thing you’re into and he’ll shake you up your dream drink (€12).
What should I drink? Name your favourite spices, herbs and flavours, and let the bartenders design away.
Where? 15 Boulevard du Temple, 3rd
What’s the deal? All marble counters, tasselled wall lights and bright-white-shirted waiters, this Pigalle spot is about as classy as they come. And the cocktails? Pleasingly old-school (and suitably fuss-free). You’ll be transported back to late-19th-century New Orleans in no time.
What should I drink? The speciality here is absinthe-laced cocktails – go for one of those.
Where? 12 Rue Frochot, 9th
What’s the deal? You’d struggle to find a cosier drinking den than this pub-like affair in the Marais. From the vintage furnishings to the piano in the corner to the staff in blue overalls, it’s all low-key and down-to-earth here. And in Paris’s flashy bar landscape, that makes a refreshing change. Care about how what’s in your glass gets there? Happily, the Cambridge only works with sustainable spirit brands.
What should I drink? The punchy Funk Attack (€13), with fermented milk, lemon and kombu seaweed infused with Citadelle gin.
Where? 8 Rue de Poitou, 3rd
What’s the deal? The Left Bank may not be known for its nightlife, but perhaps that’s because some of its best haunts are concealed behind featureless façades. That’s true of the très modish Castor Club, anyway. This dimly lit wood-panelled bar plays a mix of Nashville pop from the ’50s and ’60s, and the cocktail choices are eclectic.
What should I drink? The Turkish Delight (strong Peruvian pisco, acacia gum, pistachio cream, lemon and cardamom).
Where? 14 Rue Hautefeuille, 6th
What’s the deal? The 16th isn’t exactly the buzziest part of town when it comes to drinking out. But Cravan alone is reason alone to pop on down for a bev. Classed as a national ’historic monument’, the art nouveau building it’s housed in makes a dramatic backdrop against which to enjoy their speciality inter-war cocktails. The soundtrack’s pleasingly jazzy, and the small plates menu is excellent.
What should I drink? The Tunnel, the house twist on the negroni.
Where? 17 Rue Jean de la Fontaine, 16th
What’s the deal? At Danico, they know how to make you feel at home. With its green velvet armchairs, black-and-white marble counter and hugely catchy ’80s soundtrack, this Brooklyn-style bar – yes, another one – is pretty much destined for your Instagram feed. The staff are very welcoming. And the drinks? Totally fab.
What should I drink? The Kota Ternate, with rum, pineapple, lemon, tea, whey and spices.
Where? 6 Rue Vivienne, 2nd
What’s the deal? Oddly, the red door doesn’t actually open – you go in via the blue one on the left. But that dinky lil’ rectangle has become pretty much emblematic of Parisian cocktail excellence since Little Red Door first appeared on the World’s 50 Best Bars list a few years back. Inside, you’ll find a dim-lit speakeasy with matchless charm – think tin ceilings, insanely comfy chesterfields and midnight-blue velvet armchairs.
What should I drink? A Modernismo, with Beefeater fin, nutmeg, champagne, lemon and oxalis.
Where? 60 Rue Charlot, 3rd
What’s the deal? You might well walk past Le Mary Céleste without even noticing it – such is the simplicity of its PVC door and neon sign. That would be a mistake. Because this place is frankly unmissable, both for its excellent house cocktails and its (surprisingly affordable) oysters.
What should I drink? A Rain Dog (Amaro, bourbon, mint and lemon) with oysters on the side.
Where? 1 Rue Commines, 3rd
What’s the deal? To get to this buzzing spot, you’ll first have to pass through the tiny white taqueria that operates out of the same address. The backroom is where the Marais’s moneyed thirty-somethings come for their margaritas – and all manner of other top-notch cocktails. Don’t miss out.
What should I drink? The Guêpe Verte (tequila, cucumber, coriander, agave, lime and pepper).
Where? 52 Rue de Saintonge, 3rd
What’s the deal? It may feel gimmicky to have to enter a bar via a walk-in fridge, but persevere. From the delish €6 seasonal punch to €14 for a more elaborate concoction, Moonshiner serves cocktails and whiskies across a range of price points (and luckily, it’s all pretty much excellent).
What should I drink? The Smokey Island, comprising three-year-old Havana rum, vodka, Beefeater gin and a host of heady aromas.
Where? 5 Rue Sedaine, 11th
What’s the deal? Spread over two spacious rooms filled with huge mirrors and studded leather couches, the Marais’s Sherry Butt makes quite the dazzling date spot. The cocktail list has 11 entries, and most of the ingredients are either homemade (think pine nut or champagne syrup) or slightly mysterious, like the Umeshu spirit (made from Japanese plums).
What should I drink? A Shimbashi, with Japanese whisky, Fino sherry and bitters.
Where? 20 Rue Beautreillis, 4th
What’s the deal? Once a hostess bar – they’ve kept the name, evidently – Dirty Dick has a kitsch ’tiki’ vibe and is all about the rum. Practically crying ‘Aloha!’ as they go, the flowered-shirt-sporting barmen cater to the crowds with a list of 20 or so fruity cocktails served in giant shells or miniature volcanoes.
What should I drink? Any of the cocktails featuring one of 55 (!) different rums.
Where? 10 Rue Frochot, 9th