Choices on this list range from a bar where Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to knock them back, to a terrace rooftop just a kiss away from the Arc de Triomphe, to a couple of chic cocktail clubs in the hip Montorgueil neighbourhood.
Cocktails have definitely become all the craze in Paris, along with the rest of the civilised world, so you will readily find extensive cocktail menus. Many of these feature creative concoctions using cognac or champagne as an ingredient. Wine bars in Paris are their own genre so those you’ll most definitely discover on their own list. And since everyone whose ever been to Paris has found their way at least once to rue Daunou, you owe it to yourself to say hi to Harry while you’re in town.
Monsieur Le Zinc
Set decorated like a vintage petrol station, this new-ish bar just around the cornder from Odéon has become a quick hit with beer lovers and wine aficionados. Part of the appeal is that you can self-serve your own beers, from taps that have been fashioned to dispense beer straight from the old petrol station pump dispensing guzzles. How it works is that you put some cash on a little magnetic-strip card when you arrive and with that you can pretty much serve yourself beer all night, or until you use up the cash on your beer card. The wine menu will also keep most wine lovers satisfied, too. And, by the end of the evening you're sure to have mastered how to pour yourself a beer with the least amount of foam on top. (06 67 17 58 65)
This is the kind of restaurant you go to for dinner when you want the excitement of a club atmosphere but good quality food, too. Taking the scene by storm, this Paris restaurant-bar follows on the heels of their successful openings in St. Tropez, Megave and now Courchevel, too. That in itself sets the tone for the kind of clientele they are going for and attracting. The not overly-complicated menu offers delicacies like scallop-filled dim sum and crab spring rolls. Their mains can range from spicy beef served with banana-leaf wrapped Thai sticky rice to sea bass steamed in coconut cream. In other words, you can't go wrong. And the mixologist even has a few suprises on his menu, like the Spicy Jack. Difficult to describe this sweet and spicy cocktail so you will just have to stop by and see for yourself. (01 42 02 23 23)
If you enjoy a night of Salsa music and you feel like putting on your dancing shoes while you're in Paris, the Barrio Latino is the place to be. It's also a good place to just hang out with friends while you grab a cocktail and some small plates, Latino style in the four-storeyed bar/dance club/restaurant. Located at 46/48, rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, in one of Paris's most exciting, vibrant nightlife districts that is Bastille, the stunning decor, good music and great atmosphere will have you dancing the night away. Do not, however, come here expecting a cheap and cheerful place where you can also dance a little: the Barrio Latino may look and feel as though it was in South America, but this is still Paris, and cocktails range from €12 to €15 each.
Experimental Cocktail Club
In its handful of years since opening, this place has become the cocktail institution. The founders, a group of badboy buddies, has since gone on to open several more clubs and even one in NYC. They are often credited (accurately or inaccurately) with bringing the modern day craft cocktail movement to Paris. Nonetheless, the cocktails here are creative and easily downable. The ambiance is more a rocker vibe and it's the kind of place where the music is so loud you can't hear what the person next to you is saying. Sometimes that can be a good thing. Of course, though, that's for you to decide. (01 45 08 88 09)
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Bugsy's Bar & Restaurant
Take it from me, even while you're on vacation, your guy is going to want to watch the game. After all, the World Cup happens only every 4 years and pity the loving mate who's dragged her man off to some sightseeing thang when there's a match to be watched. Bugsy's is your Paris headquarters, then, for this year's World Cup (and any other games when you're in town). It's sort of tucked in behind the Elysée which makes it just a few minutes' walk from the Champs-Elysées. It 's an expat who owns it and yes, Bugsy's is named after Bugsy. You'll find comfort cocktails of Cosmopolitan, French Martini and White Russian, and a good many beers on tap. Bar food includes burgers, fries and other basics. When you're looking for a place where you can be sure the game is on the big screen, this is it. (01 42 68 18 44)
Closerie des Lilas
Ever fantasized about having a drink with Emile Zola, Apollinaire and Paul Cézanne, or even Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Miller ? Les Lilas is the place. Or at least, in the 20's/30's it was, and especially on Tuesday nights when international thinkers and artists gathered, talked and drank. But this storied venue dates back even farther, to the mid-19th c. when it was a station on the road to Fontainebleu. Its (former) garden of lilac trees helped create its Thousand-and-One-Nights reputation and anchored Montparnasse's café culture. Today its piano bar is still beloved like a well-worn, leather-bound book. Many an expat swear it's the place to find yourself a good stiff drink on a cold winter night or warm summer evening. But, Hemingway said it best, "The only decent café in our neighborhood was La Closerie des Lilas, and it was one of the best cafés in Paris." (01 40 51 34 50)
Harry's New York Bar
Legend has it that Gershwin composed « An American in Paris » in the downstairs piano bar here. I don't doubt it as the other legend, that Fitzgerald drank himself unconscious at Harry's, seems to have held up through the ages. But most people who come here to enjoy a whiskey-sour, bloody Mary or rum-and-coke in the wood-paneled bar, probably don't come her for those reasons, even if they do know who Gershwin and Fitzgerald are. Harry's is just one of those Paris bars that has always been and forever will be. It was established in 1911. And its location, just by Opéra and Place Vendome, make it so very convenient. It's also a good spot to hang out in if you're looking for some expat comraderie.
Hotel Raphael Rooftop Bar
This is the Parisian rooftop bar to beat all rooftop bars. Seriously. And I'll be honest, I am not one for hotel bars. But the rooftop bar of the Hotel Raphael, just a stone's throw from the Arc de Triomphe, is one of those gems you wish were open all year long. Alas, it's only open during the summer months. Here the seating is arranged in discreet manner so you get both the sense of a rooftop lounge with panoramic views of the Sacre-Cur, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, while maintaining that sense of a private rendez-vous. For this season, I've heard murmurings that Bbq is the theme so any sunny afternoon or early evening that you stop by, you may just be able to get some hot skewers of steak, chicken and shrimp to go with your glasses of champagne and fresh strawberry cocktails. (01 53 64 32 00)
Le Bar du Bristol
This bar's signature line is "haute couture cocktails." But don't let that frighten you, gentlemen, since they do honor sports here, too, and when there's a big rugby or soccer match on, you can often catch it here. There was a time when this bar fronted out onto the lobby, offering one an opportunity for display while libations were consumed. But since 2012, this luxury hotel created its very own little tucked away nook (formerly a ballroom) where one can sit in soothingly dim lighting and have quiet conversations over one of Maxime Hoerth's award-winning cocktail creations. The palace's signature cocktail is the Gingerbread Old Fashioned and there's nothing that this Meilleur Ouvrier de France – that is a coveted distinction here – likes to do more than create original cocktails that harmoniously speak to a given moment. There are DJ sets Wednesday through Saturday going as late as midnight. (01 53 43 42 41)
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