Best bars in Paris: tried, tested and ranked by us
What should I drink? The Nevez Old Fashioned.
A cocktail bar like Le Syndicat is hard to come by. It may look scrappy from the outside but once inside, you couldn't imagine anywhere more hospitable. The excellent cocktail list hits the fashionable vintage spot, with little-known liquors (cognacs, Armagnacs, eau de vie and more) made into contemporary combinations by faultlessly attentive staff. Sit back to soak up the casual speakeasy atmosphere and the hip-hop soundtrack.
What should I drink? A Rain Dog with oysters on the side.
It would be easy to walk straight past the latest venture from the team behind Candelaria and Le Glass – with its nondescript front door and simple neon sign, the Mary Céleste oyster bar looks more like a neighbourhood pizzeria than one of the hippest destinations in the Marais.
What should I drink? A Modernismo, with Beefeater gin, nutmeg, champagne, lemon and the herb, oxalis.
It’s impossible to miss the Little Red Door’s…little red door, located on rue Charlot and lit up by slightly gaudy lights in Paris’s uber chic Marais quarter. It came 11th in the 2017 list of the World’s Best Bars and frankly, we can’t argue. Get comfortable in the intoxicating speakeasy atmosphere and browse the cocktail menu, which is themed around architectural trends.
What should I drink? A glass of Nord-Aveyron red.
In the kingdom of chefs, the pig is king – or so goes the slogan of our favourite south-western French chef, Yves Camdeborde, who has just opened his fourth address (after L'Avant Comptoir de la Mer and Le Comptoir du Relais). A love letter to pork, the gourmet small plates are best washed down with the excellent wine from independent producers, such as a 2014 Montrieux from the Loire.
What should I drink? Guêpe Verte (tequila, cucumber, coriander, agave, lime and pepper) = Mexico in a glass.
Push the little door and go through a thick curtain at the back of the taco joint to find 52 rue Saintonge’s cocktail den. The room is large, the light soft and the golden atmosphere is as cosy as it gets. The aproned bartenders are adept multitaskers; smiling, taking orders, making jokes and occasionally busting dance moves.
What should I drink? A glass of Fleur Sauvage Jouret.
A superb selection of wines, delectable smoked meats on toast, and a cosy environment are yours for the taking at Septime's annex bar. La Cave is just as glamorous as its big sister, but the prices aren’t as prohibitive. Sample the rotating selection of five whites and five reds by the glass (between €4.50 and €8).
What should I drink? The Turkish Delight or Chirac 95.
Castor Club's discreet frontage, elegant old lampshades and wealth of log-cabin wooden panelling create an aesthetic reminiscent of the speakeasy bars of Prohibition-era America. Often busy, the bar plays a mix of Nashville pop and country from the ’50s and ’60s while customers try out the eclectic range of house cocktails. Downstairs, a funkier R&B playlist gets a cheery crowd writhing in a dance-friendly bar space, while others chat away in the cosy candlelight.
What should I drink? A classic Tom Collins.
Nautical-themed drinking hole Le CopperBay is a sophisticated and elegant cocktail bar hidden away down the quiet Rue Bouchardon. Against a décor of wood panelling and ropes, experienced cocktail crafters Elfi, Julien and Aurélie can serve you a sailor-friendly rum on the rocks, or something a little more adventurous from their ambitious mixology menu.
What should I drink? Any of the rotating beers on draught.
Les Trois 8 opened after a renovation in 2013 with a new remit to match its fresh look: instead of cheap lager on tap, its clientele would henceforth sip craft beers and organic wine. Choose between around eight brews, ranging from the moderately bitter Northmaen Blonde (€4.50 per pint) to the dark and stormy Kernel Export India Porter (€9.50). If beer is the religion at Les Trois 8, heretics are tolerated – a decent range of wines is also on offer.
What should I drink? The Grand Ourse, with Chartreuse, rosehip vodka, rosehip syrup and ginger beer.
Of the many venues between the Strasbourg Saint-Denis and Gare de l’Est attracting hip young drinkers, Ours Bar is a standout. If nothing else, it's good enough to keep its prices down – pints for €5 all day long and cocktails for €6 during happy hour (5pm-9pm). As well as all the classic mixes you’d expect, there are also original house cocktails which are worth splashing out for.
What should I order? A Hot Mexican (mezcal infused with tarragon, spicy Suze, Spanish Bitter and lemon).
Mezcal is slowly becoming the drink du jour in Paris – helped in no small part by La Mezcaleria, a clandestine bar hidden behind the kitchen of Hotel 1K’s Peruvian restaurant. Sneak your way inside and you’ll find a bright, buzzing space with a glass ceiling and Mexican-inspired décor. The drinks menu offers an assortment of heady mezcal shots, cocktails and snacks like homemade guacamole and chips.
What should I order? Let the bar staff guide you in choosing a giant bowl of delicious punch.
Slap bang in the heart of Belleville, La Commune is always bursting with punters clamouring for a taste of their amber rum. The famed team behind Le Syndicat have kept to their winning formula: a clandestine shopfront and a hip-hop soundtrack. For about €11 per person, you get your share of a giant silver punch bowl, filled with dangerously drinkable concoctions.
What should I drink? A Deck & Donohue craft beer.
Thomas Lehoux and David Flynn have updated the concept of an old-style Parisian café, just by keeping the decor and changing the offering. No more crap beer, bitter coffee or subpar sandwiches – these are ethical, artisanal products at their best. There are craft beers from the surrounding area; Deck & Donohue in Montreuil and Outland in Fontenay-sous-Bois, and of course, coffee from the Brûlerie itself.
What should I drink? A Bérégovoy with 30 & 40 calvados, Ferrand cognac, Madeira Verdelho, Dry Ferrand curaçao and Scrappy's orange bitters.
The whitewashed walls and private green alcove make Combat super welcoming and peaceful. Elena Schmitt, Margot Lecarpentier and barmaid Elise Drouet (all of whom are ex-Experimental Cocktail Club) serve the finest, well-balanced cocktails. To avoid total knockout from all that booze, head for the edibles, such as the terrine with gherkins and Thierry Breton’s pain de campagne.
What should I drink? Wine, by the litre(s) of course.
In a room decorated au naturel, several tables face a massive counter, alongside stainless steel tanks filled with delicious drinks. Arbois le Guinguet, Côtes-du-Rhône from Gramenon and wines from the Rochebin area make up a consistently good-quality list. Bring a group of mates, fill your bottle from one of these fountains of joy and settle in for a session.
What should I drink? A Smokey Island, three-year-old Havana rum with vodka, Beefeater gin and a host of heady aromas.
Make your way through Pizza Da Vito restaurant, then through the metal door of the walk-in fridge. Once inside, peruse Moonshiner's list of cocktails and whiskies (there's 83!), as well as a selection of bottled and draught beers.
What should I drink? A Saison Dupont beer.
La Fine Mousse is run by a team of ‘bièreologues’ who man the twenty or so taps, offering a plethora of artisanal beers from France, Belgium, Norway and England. There are tasting notes on the menu, or you can leave yourself in the capable hands of the bar staff to help you choose from the range that stretches from 5% to 10% strength. A major plus is the quality jazz programme: double bass/guitar or piano duos provide an unobtrusive backdrop to the hum of the eclectic clientele.
What should I drink? The Picasso Martini (a badass dry martini with a frozen cube of vermouth).
Tucked away at the back of the world-famous Hotel Ritz, is Bar Hemingway, opened by Brit bartender Colin Field in 1994. 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.
What should I drink? Pick your poison and let the bartenders design it your way.
A few strides away from the bustling Rue Oberkampf, on Boulevard du Temple, is the eye-catching bar Bisou. There’s no menu, but behind the sublime marble bar is mixologist Nicolas who, with just a word in the right direction, will shake up a concoction to suit your fancies. Not only are cocktails high-flying, but Bisou is also taking a sustainable approach and only working with 100% organic locally sourced products. Waste products are also recycled as cocktail garnishes.
What should I drink? A pint.
The bar of Le Grand Hôtel de Clermont has become known as ‘Chez Ammad’ thanks to its proprietor, who has manned it for more than 50 years. The warm welcome from Ammad and his son is lavished on the local clientele of cheery, cheeky, eccentric old regulars form the neighbourhood. Under the low ceiling is an old-style bar and ageless murals and paintings on the walls. You never get bored here, as it’s a place for animated conversations between the clientele, often with a spot of dancing to the Brazilian funk and jazz soundtrack after a few drinks.
What should I drink? The Égoïste, with thyme and lemon-infused gin, homemade chamomile syrup, pineapple, lemon bitters and smoked tea.
Tucked away behind the Montmartre hill, with rooms priced at €400 a night, the luxurious L'Hôtel Particulier Montmartre bar is a favourite with in-the-know Parisians. Drinks at this intimate lounge are fresh, handmade and daring, without being faddy. In this exclusive garden, it’s hard to believe you’re drinking in central Paris.
What should I drink? A Shimbashi, with Japanese whisky, Fino sherry and bitters.
This is a welcome compromise between Saint-Germain’s pullulating cocktail bars and the ultra-cool hipster hangouts of Bastille. Behind a discreet façade on a little Marais side street, Sherry Butt (whose young owners Amaury and Cathleen previously worked at Prescription Cocktail Club and Curio Parlour) hides two spacious long rooms filled with studded leather couches, huge mirrors and dim lighting. Come here for top cocktails mixed by expert hands, and a distinguished selection of whiskies from all over the world.
What should I drink? A €2.50 pint.
A Belleville drinker’s institution, never empty of local youth imbibing black coffee with their afternoon papers or kicking off the evening with an aperitif or five. The packed terrace is the place to be winter and summer, as it’s heated and lit until the last rays of the sun have died away. Finding a chair and a spot to wedge it into is a challenge, but the satisfaction is worth it – and at €2.50 for a beer and €4.50 for a cocktail, it’s no trial to settle down and get in several rounds before closing time.
What should I drink? An Hermano, with Koch mezcal, Campari, lime juice and agave syrup.
With its low-lighting and gloomy front windows, Monsieur Antoine, on a sidestreet off Avenue Parmentier, is hardly eye-catching. But once inside, you can't help but feel welcomed by the rock soundtrack and the sound of the cocktail shaker at work. There's a weekly changing list of ten drinks, with all syrups made in-house and freshly-squeezed juices. Named after Monsieur Antoine in the French gangster film, 'Tontons flingueurs,' this is the kind of authentic drinking den you won’t be able to pull yourself away from.
What should I drink? A glass of white with a yellow pollock ceviche.
Another hit for Yves Camdeborde, this follows in the footsteps of his extremely popular Avant Comptoir, but this time focused on seafood. Like its older sibling, here you eat standing up, and everything happens at the bar – from ordering to getting stuck into the quality wines and tapas-style dishes. The barman is well equipped to give you expert wine recommendations, so much so that you end up toasting your neighbours at the bar.
What should I drink? A Tanqueray Ten gin cocktail.
Rejoice, ladies: waiters at Calbar sport their underwear – and not much else – with pride. The décor of the former wine bar is like a New York loft, with bare bricks, street art and wooden furniture. Those into their cocktails will love the menu which features premium spirits like Monkey 47 (a 1986 German liqueur with 47 ingredients), Nikka (a Japanese whisky) or even Tanqueray Ten (gin made from fresh fruit). There’s no happy hour, but a monthly apéro where underwear as outerwear is a prerequisite for both sexes (free dressing room available) to get hold of the special cocktail, the Dagobear.
What should I drink? A Kota Ternate.
Hidden behind the temple to pizza that is Daroco is Danico, a trendy Brooklyn-style bar complete with high ceilings, green velvet armchairs, black and white striped marble bar and eighties soundtrack. The mixology team, led by Nico de Soto (formerly of Experimental Club, but with training at New York’s Mace too), pushes the boundaries of cocktails as we know them. From matcha to marshmallow to bacon, this menu will leave you totally baffled – and delighted.
What should I drink? A €6 happy hour BCG, with basil, cucumber and gin.
Though rather nondescript on the outside, this cosy cocktail bar in the 10th arrondissement exudes a lively, buzzing atmosphere all night long. Perched at the bar or on leather chairs and re-purposed wooden crates, the after-work crowd can choose from a careful selection of organic beers, wines, spritz and homemade cocktails. The venue hosts regular live jazz and funk and hip-hop DJ sets, which warm up the room from the early evening, while customers can also enjoy unlimited free games of table football.
What should I drink? A glass of Octobre Rouge.
With a long terrace, protected from any adverse weather by its covered passage, Coinstot Vino might feel like the last sliver of paradise for smokers. But not just to them – because anyone lucky enough to drink here can expect pure joy. The menu is bursting with natural, flavourful wines with fun names to boot. If in doubt on the wine list, you can always consult the friendly Guillaume Dupré, owner and natural wine connoisseur, there to point you in the right direction with taste, precision, passion and humour.
What should I drink? A Nutty By Nature, with peanut-infused rum, spiced maple syrup and Japanese Genmaicha tea.
It’s easy to think you’ve made a wrong turn somewhere when you arrive at cocktail bar Mabel – on the outside, all you can see is a ‘grilled cheese’ café. But slink through to the back room, to find a relaxed, pretence-free speakeasy. The drinks menu here is extensive and shrewdly curated, placing an accent on rums like Botran 15 Reserva, Bristol Caribbean, Barbancourt 3 Star and Chairman’s Reserve, while also offering a healthy selection of whiskys, mezcal and cachaça.
What should I drink? A Psilo with tequila, mezcal, salt and lemon, garnished with wild coriander.
Look through the facade of greenery and you’ll see a discreet sign saying ‘L’Entree des Artistes’. Inside is an art deco duplex that’s somewhere between a loft and a jazz club. Cocktails are all mixed with homemade syrups and infusions and wines are well chosen from small natural producers. On weekends, you can dance to American LPs until almost sunrise as the bar stays open until 5am.
What should I drink? A €5 cocktail, of course.
With a corner terrace and a view of Tati Mariage, this is one of our favourite cheap watering holes. Always full and always joyous, crowds often spill out onto the pavement at weekends. The decor couldn’t be more of a mish-mash: think Louis XV armchairs, seventies egg seats, walls lined with books and walls pasted with comic book pages. It’s open six days a week and even better – the happy hour runs from 6-10pm, serving pints of lager at €3.50 and caïpirinhas at €3.50.
What should I drink? Any of the gin-based cocktails.
Palissade is a 10th arrondissement bar-restaurant serving cocktails and an inventive fusion menu that echoes the diverse make-up of the staff: a Japanese head chef, a Breton sous-chef, a Polish owner and a Mexican waitress. The food is always adventurous, but cocktails are a pretty safe bet and they certainly don't scrimp on measures.
What should I drink? A classic Old Fashioned.
As Paris’s first genuine whisky bar with over 1,000 whiskies collected from all over the world, Golden Promise is the fruit of La Maison du Whiskey and the founder of La Maison du Saké, Youlin Ly. It prides itself on being a tasting centre for everything around the drink – the bar has a full menu with over 200 whiskies. The cocktail menu is divided between a short (changing) cocktail list and an interpretation of 5 whiskies (Japanese, Irish, American, Scottish and Taiwanese) taken in one of the following ways: neat, whisky and chaser, and highball.
What should I drink? The Tattoo You with mezcal, ginger, grapefruit, lime and beer.
Opened in trendy So-Pi (South Pigalle) by the team behind Candelaria, Le Glass is all about novelties flown over from the US: special cocktails, mixers with Pisco, ‘Boilermakers’ (a shot followed by a beer) and a wide selection of imported bottled beers, all accompanied by hot dogs and pickles. With a décor of broken mirrors, disco balls and soft lighting, you may get the impression of being in a club rather than a bar, and the small space quickly fills up with the local chic, beautiful crowd.
What should I drink? A Leviathan Barleywine with cognac and amber notes.
After stopping off in Brussels and Tokyo, the most exciting brewing concept of the last five years has landed in Paris. Crowdfunded by 2,500 supportive drinkers, this chic taproom is all distressed stone and exposed metal pipes around a custom-designed Bram Spruit bar. A well-versed “beerista” works the bar, serving a mixture of tourists, local residents and beer nerds. Choose from 47 seats inside and 27 more on the smoking veranda. The dream! Among the dozen beers on draught, there are six regulars including the Grosse Bertha or Babylon, which is brewed from fermented bread.
What should I drink? A Drunk in Love, with fruit purée, Maras des Bois strawberries and coriander.
Hidden at the back of a real-life launderette, Le Lavomatic is a classic American-style prohibition speakeasy. But there's no need to hide your drinks here, just kick back with a cocktail and enjoy the cosy, unique space.
What should I drink? A beer and generous platter to snack on.
Never was a bar more aptly named: this quaint café-resto, tucked away on place Sainte-Marthe, gets extremely packed. La Sardine’s popularity has something to do with its location on Place Sainte-Marthe, Belleville’s answer to a village square, with a relaxing, tree-shaded terrace and hardly any passing traffic. It’s also got a decent wine list, with a choice of several organic varieties, best accompanied by tapas.
What should I drink? A Smith, with thyme-infused vodka, apple juice, hazelnut syrup and celery bitters.
In the neo-trendy area of South Pigalle (also known as SoPi), this bistro proposes the charitable donation of €1 per cocktail purchased. So by spending €13 on a drink, you’re helping the homeless, training guide dogs for the blind or saving animals in distress. We oggle at the classy wooden decor, sophisticated bar and suspended lightbulbs. The cosy atmosphere makes it the perfect place to chat quietly over a glass or two.
What should I drink? A Belle Otero, with mezcal, Saint-Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and champagne.
A former brothel, Maison Souquet is now a clandestine hotel with a bar of the same name – which truly embraces the Pigalle of yesteryear. Décor is Jacques Garcia’s Belle Époque meets orientalism, including original pieces like 1895 Cordoba leather on the walls, Moorish earthenware, porcelain, vintage furniture and moulded fireplaces. The atmosphere is a little bit naughty, but perhaps it’s something to do with the floral, feminine cocktails, all named after famous courtesans.
What should I drink? Sample a few of the 350 different types of wine and go from there.
This sparky little natural wine bar near Odéon stands out in the upscale neighbourhood for being neither a tourist trap nor impossibly expensive. With its classy black frontage, exposed stone and funk soundtrack, it’s a classy proposition. All the wine served here is grown from organic grapes, then processed by hand and fermented without the aid of chemicals – giving those fashionable rustic vintages with a broad palette of flavours.
What should I drink? A pint.
Head to Corentin Cariou’s La Gare for some serious jazz in an abandoned train station. There are free concerts from 9pm daily and drinks from the affordable bar: pints start at €5, most cocktails are €7 and a plate of charcuterie weighs in at €11. This is the kind of spot you’ll keep coming back to.
What should I drink? A Zorro with mezcal, pear syrup, lime and bitter vanilla.
After bringing cheap cocktails to rue de Paradis with L’Ours Bar, business partners (and friends) Enguerrand and Victor are back with a trendy little brother. Sticking to the wild animal theme, Le Renard the same concept: the decor includes eye-catching wallpaper and the atmosphere is effortlessly cool, with a hip-hop-electro backing track. The cocktails are especially lip-smacking and prices are reasonable for the area.
What should I drink? A péché mignon with mint, peach puree, elderflower cordial and ginger ale.
Cyril Lignac is now a household name and his Parisian restaurant empire is ever growing. Distressed brickwork, wicker lamps and patterned banquettes at Le Bar des Près are all within his remit, but it’s the Japanese elements which diverge from his usual style. Keeping one eye on the bartender and one eye on the kitchen with a seat at the marble bar, grab a California roll and one of the super refreshing cocktails.
What should I drink? A cocktail with one of the 55 different types of rum.
Once a hostess bar (they’ve kept the name, evidently), the only phallic elements these days are the Polynesian totems scattered throughout the bar, which has a kitsch, exotic ‘tiki’ vibe (luxuriant plants, bamboo furniture and coloured lights, a fumoir full of stuffed animal heads) and lots of free-flowing rum.
What should I drink? A €3.50 pint.
A sunny terrace in the early evening, with rickety red tables, old student cards and Dick Rivers concert posters on the walls inside, L’Attirail is a student watering hole par excellence. It might feel like a high school bar straight out of the eighties, but this 19th arrondissement spot is perennially good.
What should I drink? The cocktail of the day.
This enormously popular bar in Menilmontant has a huge rooftop with a 360-degree view of the capital. It's a vast space surrounding a handsome bar, comfortable sofas strewn with cushions, colourful plants and scented herbs planted in pots around the seats or hung from railings. Watching the sun set over the Sacré-Coeur, glass in hand, under garlands of coloured lights, really is something special.
What should I drink? A €4 happy hour pint of Kanter.
The Cannibale has been doing its thing for over 20 years, but is always worth a visit – the old bistro with its bold red frontage, red tables and red banquettes has a tendency to earn devoted fans, and was all the rage back in the early 2000s. The laid-back vibe includes cool wait staff serving gigantic charcuterie platters, pints and pastis. Many of the clientele are colourful local characters, and the atmopshere tends to gather pace into the evening with cheerful chatter and tasteful DJ sets.
What should I drink? A Negroni.
This is the second venture from the guys behind our favourite cocktail bar Moonshiner and is named in honour of the Charles Bukowski poem. The intriguing gin-oriented drinks list would, without doubt, have been to the American writer’s taste. The subdued yet relaxed atmosphere is complemented by a warm colour scheme, copper ceiling and a smoking room surrounded by an aquarium – resulting in a cross between a cosy hotel bar and the back room of a chic Chinese restaurant.
What should I drink? A pint.
At the heart of the Château Rouge quartier, L’Olympic Café is a cultural magnet, partly because of the cosy concerts in the basement. The walls are often adorned with photo exhibitions and the Olympic Café’s Senegalese fare is inimitable: yassa chicken, plantain bananas, braised chicken and the mafé, which is free on Wednesdays. We’re big fans.
What should I drink? A Fruit du Passé with Strega liquor, Genepi Dolin, home-made celery syrup, lemon juice, liquorice powder and fennel seeds.
On buzzing Rue des Vinaigriers, this hip cocktail bar has fast become one of the hottest hangouts in Paris. Perhaps thanks to its self-consciously stylish interior – the ceiling is covered with vertical wave-shaped slats that seem to crash down dramatically behind the massive steel counter. Choose from among a wide selection of inventive cocktails, and each drink is strikingly vibrant, well balanced and generously sized.
What should I drink? A pint.
This old-school Pigalle watering hole is always crowded with hipsters and rockers, and sits somewhere between a PMU (old-fashioned zinc bar) and a trendy spot (there’s DJ turntables that mix a musical background between rock and electro). It’s often still going at 2am when the bouncer has to kick everyone out.
What should I drink? An exceptional Old Fashioned.
Here hôtel particulier meets pop art and orientalism, nicely summed up by the name; Andy (Andy Warhol) Wahloo (meaning ‘nothing’ in Arabic). These cocktails are first-rate and there seem to be hundreds to choose from too. The DJ really knows how to get the crowd going – but still plays tunes to match the place.
What should I drink? A Red Sunset with vodka, brut champagne, peach and grapefruit bitters, peach liqueur, lime and fresh mint.
A large heated terrace, an immense, sociable bar space and a cosy backroom make SUNSET a buzzing and versatile hangout, perfect for a date or a birthday party. Behind the bar, friendly staff put together a wide range of original cocktails and a short, carefully curated wine list. Beers mostly come from up-and-coming Italian, German and French micro-breweries, like Myrha Pale Ale from the nearby Goutte d’Or.
What should I drink? An olé pisco with pisco, lemon and coriander.
After Pulperia and Biondi, the ebullient French-Argentinian chef has a new address in his arsenal: Bar de Biondi, right next to the eponymous restaurant. There's stellar seafood tapas like killer ceviche and marinated sardines, plus French and Argentinian natural wines and South American cocktails mixed by expert bartender Alexandre (formerly of 1K).
Review coming soon.
What should I drink? The creamy verveine abricot, with verbena honey, apricot and Hibiki Harmony whiskey.
Nestled at the bottom of the four-star Hotel National des Arts et Metiers, Raphael Navot’s divine décor comprises velvet banquettes, subdued lighting and a loung playlist – it’s all ultra chic, but not pretentious. The ten-strong cocktail menu is presented in a perfumier’s notebook and bartender Oscar Quagliarini (ex-Gocce) has imagined each blend as a fragrance. They do not scrimp on measures, so be warned: two drinks and you'll be well on your way.
What should I drink? A bottle of white shared between friends.
With its midnight blue façade, smiling service, elegant windows, hams and sausages suspended from the ceiling and well-ordered shelves of bottles, wine bar and deli La Cave de Belleville is a seriously classy outfit. Because it’s a wine store, a chat with the staff lets you match various glasses of red and white with your choice. It’s not a cut-price dégustation, but the experience is well worth it.
What should I drink? A Margarita.
Minimalist, almost bare, the only decoration at Medusa is pirate-related: think sea monsters encased in the wall, wormwood tables and rocking chairs lit dimly lit. At the back, there’s even a quirky little cave where you can smoke by candlelight. Cocktails are beautifully mixed, with the focus on classics like margaritas and negronis, but there’s no scrimping on measure here. There’s little in the way of food, so stick with that age-old moral: eating, here, is cheating.
What should I drink? A glass of Chèrouche en Suisse red.
Benichat is more than welcome addition to a neighbourhood dominated by PMU bars and dodgy beer. With soft lighting and tiled floors, this is a great stop-off for an aperitif or late evening drink. Expect natural wines from all over Europe (Frank Cornelissen in Sicily, Partida Creus in Spain, Michael Kindl in Austria) and beers by the Belgian brewery Dupont.
What should I drink? A Salton Sea.
Nestled on rue Keller, in the bustling Bastille area, this is a slice of American cool: Palm Springs sixties decor, with an emerald green mosaic bar and Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra on the sound system. Add some David Lynchian visual touches and you could easily be in a scene from GTA Vice City. Classic cocktails like Pisco Sours and Dirty Martinis are winning, as are the refreshing signature concoctions.
What should I drink? Any of the Soju-based cocktails, which is a distilled vodka-like rice liquor.
From the precocious team of restaurateurs behind Candelaria, Glass and Mary Celeste comes Hero: a boutique restaurant and bar serving Korean fried chicken or ‘yangnyeom’. Head to the downstairs bar to sample the menu of luscious Korean-fusion cocktails. We tested ‘Thug Life’ (a decadent slushy made with Soju rice liquor, mezcal, apple brandy, gin and more) and ‘Bubble Trouble’ (a creamy blend of absinthe, ginseng-infused rice liquor, Orgeat, almond milk and Korean boba).
What should I drink? A glass of Cheverny (Clé de sol, 2014).
Simple and rustic, La Cave à Michel wine cellar oozes charm. Portuguese azulejos tiles brighten up the wooden countertop and tables, and outside is a little courtyard. Welcoming and chatty, the manager Fabrice is a crucial part of the package, inviting passers-by in with gusto.
What should I drink? A glass of organic wine.
Located in the 18th-century former convent of Les Récollets, Café A is unique, nestling as it does into one of the corners of this beautiful building of huge white stones. The real draw of this bar is its secret garden, protected from the street by a surrounding wall – a vast, poetic courtyard planted with old trees. Take your pick from the good quality (but not cheap) organic and biodynamic wines.
What should I drink? An Hiver Tropical.
Buried deep in Buddha-Bar is the minuscule and super exclusive Secret 8, which you can only enter with a reservation and password (accessed through their Instagram account). Secret 8 is as small as the Buddha-Bar is big, there's Kendrick Lamar as background music, with a magnificent bar serving seriously luxe drinks. With a stellar (but concise) cocktail menu, this is the perfect spot to meet lovers and friends for a tête-à-tête.
What should I drink? A Soupe Aztèque (mezcal, pineapple juice, lime and agave syrup infused with thyme).
Done out in open brick walls and simple lighting for an understated vibe, La Méduse (‘jellyfish’ in French) does well to draw in customers by the Canal Saint-Martin, whose banks are already packed with trendy bars and restaurants. Mixing the drinks here is Hamza Saïdi – formerly of the Mary Céleste oyster bar in the Marais – and he really wows.
What should I drink? A pint of craft beer.
A restaurant, bar, café, farm and vegetable garden featuring daily DIY workshops, ethical values and a relaxed, welcoming vibe... all this and more make up La Recyclerie, located in a former railway station on the Petite Ceinture. The project is organised by a handful of local hospitality associations who cut their teeth on, variously, Comptoir Général, Glaz'art, the Divan du Monde and the Machine du Moulin Rouge. Inside, the space is decked in vintage furniture and fresh greenery, with colourful chairs, an enormous bar, an open kitchen, big vats of natural wine (sourced from En Vrac) and climbing plants.
What should I drink? A Forvm Cocktail – a dry martini created by the founder, Antoine Biolatto, in 1929.
With nearly a century of reliable service behind it, Le Forvm Classic Bar has earned its reputation as the second oldest cocktail bar in Paris. The bar caters to all tastes, serving all sorts of long and short drinks, spanning champagne, vodka, gin, Martini and brandy, as well as more inventive creations.
What should I drink? A €4 happy hour pint.
This place is full of character, you can drink decent, cheap beer (€5 at happy hour) and, as the name suggests, you can listen to proper vinyl in a resolute rock’n’roll atmosphere. Pints can be sipped (Grolsch is €4 in the 6-9pm happy hour) between an old rotary dial telephone, a gigantic vintage Orangina sign and flowery wallpaper. The flea market atmosphere injects plenty of charm to this neighbourhood bar, which gets busy at weekends.
What should I drink? A Kaliya Berry with vodka, red fruit liqueur, fresh pineapple and prosecco.
Nestled in a quiet Abbesses street, a few steps from the noisy Pigalle area, get comfortable at one of the high tables and admire Persifleur's eye-catching bar. The back room is more of a boudoir with its low armchairs, soft lighting, petrol blue walls and, behind the back window, a carefully lit patio. The atmosphere is cosy and the menu lists its "homemade nectars", a dozen cocktails with rum, vodka, whiskey or mezcal. There are no classics here, only creations.
What should I drink? A Jelly Bean cocktail.
A pretty café-restaurant, Le Pavillon des Canaux is another great project with an artistic edge and a stimulating community feel to it. Set in an old two-storey house overlooking the Canal de l’Ourq and its houseboats, Le Pavillon is bright, colourful and peaceful. On a sunny day, you can sit outside at a table by the water.
What should I drink? A €4 pint of Stella at happy hour.
Once a hostess bar and with a back room that used to store fruit and veg for the rue Saint-Denis market, Le Royal has a distinct air of yesteryear. Owner Manuel is happy to share all these colourful stories with his drinkers, but get there from 5pm to enjoy cut-price happy hour specials.
What should I drink? The Siffredi (Four Roses bourbon, Aperol, lime juice, cane sugar syrup and fresh raspberries).
The bar-heavy rue Amelot has plenty of options: Pop In, Zero Zero, 4 Elements and Panic Room. The latter is covered in street art by a host of collectives, labels and French artists. The menu includes €6 pints of Grolsch or made-to-mix cocktails, including a litre for sharing. Aim for the 7-9pm happy hour when cocktails are €6 and pints are €4.50. The highlight is the mini club in the basement, complete with inbuilt fumoir.
What should I drink? A Gentleman 1919 cocktail with whiskey, Mozart liquor and Chambord liqueur.
Gentleman 1919, located in the 8th arrondissement, is perhaps the archetype of French/Anglo-Saxon masculine elegance. The pampered clientele sit back and relax with a scotch in one hand and a cigar in the other. Beard balms, Reuzel gel, shaving cream, Bullfrog eau de toilette, Kookabarra juice, vintage red wine, Brimoncourt champagne: nothing is too good for the clients of this barbershop. Go through the barbershop for the speakeasy’s discrete bar, bedecked entirely in wood and complete with a huge smoking area.
What should I drink? A pint.
Formerly Les 9 billiards, Le 9b is a haunt of fashionable young things au fait with Paris’s eclectic alternative music scene. They’re drawn by the bar’s programme of electro, hip-hop, funk and rock, the DJ booth in the basement, terrace with tables decorated with old vinyl, well-priced food and drink and buzzy atmosphere. For quality sounds and joie de vivre, this is a good bet overall.
What should I drink? The vodka-based Secousse with bissap (hibiscus flower syrup), passion fruit and cucumber.
This 600 square-metre former barn is now an offbeat, shabby chic bar, touched with colonial stylings in its black and white tiled floors, stylish chandeliers, red carpets and African souvenirs piled up in every corner. Hipsters, boho-chic types and families are all tumbled in together here – a varied but very Parisian mix. We love the atmosphere of the place and its amazing setting, with its odd assortment of objets, affordable cocktails, blues and jazz soundtrack and inexpensive Asian dishes.
What should I drink? A glass of rosé.
Bucolic delights reign at Rosa Bonheur, a bar set in a former guinguette in the heart of the Buttes Chaumont park. The bar is managed by Michelle Cassaro, aka Mimi, who used to run lesbian club Pulp – and the bar is a popular hangout with the lesbian crowd, especially on Sunday evenings. But the Bonheur is relaxed in every sense, and for Parisians of all persuasions, its terrace is the place to see and be seen in the summer.
What should I drink? A glass of wine or a pint.
La Perle is so popular that it is full from open to close. This former PMU has been pimped up with designer chandeliers, bursts of colour and fun details. There are delicious snacks made for drinking and hearty well-priced lunches too, but the big draw is its huge bay windows and charming terrace. Hipsters, fashionistas and tourists alike flock to this essential Marais address for aperitif hour and the atmosphere gets seriously merry come nightfall.
What should I drink? An Erotica (Beluga vodka, Billecart-Salmon champagne and fresh strawberries).
Always dreamed of descending into Pigalle’s underworld? L'Orphée will more than fulfil your fantasy. To enter, you must knock on a hidden door in South Pigalle, squeezed between neon-lit hostess bars and trendy restaurants. Orphée, as well as being Cocteau’s cult film, is more than just a bar, it’s a museum. The menu comprises two types of cocktail: the classics and those made with premium liqueur, plus a selection of champagne sold by the bottle.
What should I drink? A €2 pint, obviously.
Two euros don't get you far in the capital: they'll stretch to the cheapest sandwich in Franprix, or one métro trip plus a couple of carambars, but no further. Unless you're hanging out at Charlie, whose owner Charlotte has struck upon the novel idea of selling half pints for the unheard-of price of €2 (or pints for €4). All night long. Music and conversation flow as freely as the brown stuff in this affable joint, where the sofas are comfy and acoustic guitars are laid out for customer use.
What should I drink? Rouge, naturally.
Covet this address and avoid recommending it to everyone you know. Be warned, they don’t take reservations, but diners are always ready to squeeze up and fit you in. Rue du Roule’s L’Express bar has a southwestern French feel and does a stunningly good value €15 three-course menu, both at lunchtime and dinner. Don’t expect anything fussy – fresh, homemade egg mayonnaise, delicious steak tartare and to finish, a faultless chocolate mousse. And of course, the whole affair should be washed down with some good red.
What should I drink? A Ricard with pan bagnat.
As a slice of Nice away from Nice, this Riviera-themed bar ticks all the boxes: Mediterranean cuisine, a range of pastis, boules pitch in the basement, glass roof… Sip on glasses of southern wine and shots of Ricard liqueur at €2.50. Bring on the boules.
What should I drink? A Mazarine.
This is the third venture from the Experimental Cocktail Club and Curio Parlor team, this time in the ultra-chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés area. Like its predecessors, Prescription Cocktail Club is cosy, trendy and sophisticated. The cocktails are creative and delicious and you’ll find yourself turning your back on the usual Mojito.
What should I drink? A fruity and fresh cocktail.
This Indian-themed cocktail bar is elaborately done out like the inside of a vintage train, with the long, narrow main room filled with leather benches and light streaming out of the ‘windows’ (screens hung on the wall showing various countryside scenes floating by). At the very end of the bar, a screen even shows a video of railway tracks rolling off into the distance.
What should I drink? A pint on the terrace.
Ménilmontant is still one of the best areas in Paris. And the tapas bar opposite from the Notre-Dame de la Croix church only strengthens its case. Authentic and affordable, there’s patatas bravas, bocadillos with Poilâne bread, ham and mozzarella, sautéed shrimp, mini-chicken skewers and tortilla. To wash it all down, there’s a range of rums, cocktails and regularly changing well-priced wines. There’s also a free jukebox and when the weather is good, a charming little terrace bursting with flowers.
What should I drink? A Joe, with vodka and watermelon.
Squirrelled away in an alleyway near the Bastille, Le Motel is the ideal hangout for fans of hip electro-pop-rock. The very friendly staff serve explosive cocktails and the cheese and charcuterie boards are half price during happy hour (6pm-9pm). Find a seat on one of the semi-circle of second-hand sofas arranged around the bar, and as the evening progresses, DJs perform electrifying sets that ensure a packed dance floor on weekends.
What should I drink? A €3.50 pint.
Slap bang in the heart of Faubourg Saint-Denis, Le Sully is an institution that never fails to please. And with good reason. This neighbourhood watering hole does €3.50 pints and €3 shots all day long, to be enjoyed on the terrace or on comfortable banquettes. Expect big boozing, drinking and lots of clinking glasses.
What should I drink? A glass of La Sorga wine.
Step inside the restaurant at the Grand Hôtel Amour (Paris’s super chic ‘love hotel’) and you’ll find all the trappings of a hot spot – neon lights, tattooed waiters dressed in black, arty photos, and a small garden filled with French couples (and some on-trend Americans) sitting down to dinner. On the menu are fresh dishes like pork ribs served with salad, a perfect veal escalope, gnocchi, and little chocolate madeleines to team with a glass of wine from the short but carefully selected list.
What should I drink? A wallet-friendly pint or a cocktail.
Le Mauri7 is the perfect antidote to its rival over the road, the achingly hip Chez Jeanette. Where the one is always crammed with snooty drinkers, the other’s clientele are a delightfully mixed bag, its atmosphere an appealing sort of ugly sexy kitsch. We love le Mauri7 because the place oozes a human warmth lacking in its neighbours. The prices are reasonable, the waiters always available and helpful (something you can’t take for granted in Paris) – all in all, the perfect place to finish up a boozy evening in street style.
What should I drink? A glass of Mon P’tit Pithon, a 2014 Rousillon-region Millesime.
Don’t be put off by the shabby exterior, as just beyond the rusty vents and paint-slapped windows at 146 Rue du Château is the marvellous boutique restaurant and wine bar Les Rouquins. Beziers wine merchant Serge Lacombe opened the tiny bistro on the basement premises of his own cave, Les Crus du Soleil and he specialises in southern and primarily Languedoc-Roussillon regional wines, which he serves fresh from the cellar with a succinct tapas menu that changes daily.
What should I drink? A glass (or five) or wine, recommended by the knowledgeable staff.
Inaro, with its woody décor and shelves of alluring wine bottles, is popular enough that groups should think about booking ahead, but not to the extent that you'll feel rushed or cramped – the seats are cosy, the vibe as chilled as the white wine, and you're positively encouraged to draw out your evening over a platter of meats and cheeses. In lieu of a conventional menu, the obliging staff offer suggestions based on your preferences.
What should I drink? A €5 happy hour cocktail.
This bright and very à la mode bar has been cheering up Belleville since summer 2014. The neighbourhood's cool kids descend en masse every evening, to revel in the retro décor (mirrored walls, red bricks, mismatched furniture, huge lightbulbs on the ceiling, free table football and a big heated terrace), the reasonable prices (cocktail or a glass of champagne €5, pint €4.50 from 5pm-9pm, glass of wine €3.50-€5), and the above-average bistro menu.
What should I drink? A glass of the divine Meursault.
Exactly where the Bab el Oued Cafe formerly stood, La Démesure (literally, ‘excessiveness’) occupies this same immense space on the Rue du Faubourg Montmartre. Filip Alvès, the new owner, is a veteran party organiser, long used to entertaining Parisians and visitors alike. His personal mantra, apparently, is to ‘drink by the litre and dance by the kilometre’, and that’s exactly what revellers can expect at this latest address.