The Paris cocktail scene has come into its own in recent years, and many of the city’s best bars are now considered some of the best in the world.
Although not traditionally a part of French culture, with so many young Parisians swapping their after-work red wine for a craft cocktail, a trip to Paris today isn’t complete without visiting some of our favorite cocktail bars in the city.
1. Les Animaux Bars
Some of the best bars in Paris for an apéro—the French tradition of an after-work drink—are definitely those in the Animaux group, partly due to their almost unbelievable happy hour.
Head over between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. for expertly-mixed cocktails priced at just €6 each, even on weekends. It won’t surprise you to know that L’Ours, Le Renard, and the latest in the group, La Loutre (the bear, the fox and the otter, respectively) are packed most evenings, but with full-price drinks still at a mere €8, you can always stop by later when the after-work crowd has left. They also have a good selection of snacks on their menus, including charcuterie plates and organic French cheeses.
2. La Candelaria
One of Paris’ best “secret” bars, La Candelaria is hidden away at the back of a tiny Mexican taqueria; just squeeze your way past the diners and push the door in the white wall at the back to get in.
Included in last year’s The World’s 50 Best Bars list, La Candelaria specializes in agave syrups, offering something different from other Paris bars with the sharp but refreshing tequila and mezcal-based menu. Surprisingly, you can make reservations here, as long as you don’t mind sitting at the bar.
Later in the evening the windows to the street shutter, further adding to the air of secrecy. Luckily, they aren’t so secretive here that they won’t share a recipe—check out their website for a drink you can mix up back at home.
3. Sape Bar
Sape Bar has quickly become one of the buzziest cocktail bars in Paris, giving a new lease on life to the surrounding area of the Gare du Nord station.
Located within the 25 Hours Hotel Terminus Nord, both hotel guests and locals can be found propping up the bar most nights of the week, often before heading over to the hotel’s fantastic restaurant Neni.
The 25 Hours chain has once again called upon German mixologist Joerg Meyer to work his magic with the drinks, with Meyer championing French spirits and small producers with his first Parisian venture.
The menu is split into four sections: “Elegant” for those who like to stick to the classics, “Colorful” to pay homage to colorful sapeurs, or head to the “Brave” section if you want to try a more unexpected mix of ingredients. In “Cool” you can find a few of Meyer’s favorite recipes, “borrowed” from friends at popular Paris hangouts, including La Candelaria, above.
4. Le Syndicat
Keep your eyes open when looking for Le Syndicat—it may be one of Paris’ most fashionable bars inside, but the exterior is a less-than-inviting old worn shop front, making it easy to miss.
Another Paris entry on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, Le Syndicat uses only French spirits in its award-winning cocktails, some of which are also available for a small dégustation (tasting) if you’d like to find out more about the local liquors.
Each drink references a different place in Paris, with the team visiting each location first to find their inspiration. The finishing touch is the presentation, with the La Reine de Fer worth ordering just for the Eiffel Tower glass.
5. Experimental Cocktail Club
One of the bars that kick-started the Paris cocktail scene, the three founders of the Experimental Group first launched their Experimental Cocktail Club in 2007.
They have since added to their portfolio with the Prescription Cocktail Club, not to mention some of the city’s most fashionable hotels, but the original address still remains one of the best bars in Paris.
The Experimental One is the bar’s signature drink, and is now also served at Sape Bar (see above) in homage to this Paris cocktail institution, while the Old Cuban is the best seller. But if you’re not sure what your poison is, feel free to take a seat at the bar and the expert staff will happily talk you through the menu.
6. Hemingway Bar at the Ritz
This might be one of the most expensive cocktail bars in Paris (expect to pay €30 a drink) but if you want to get drunk as Hemingway himself did, then this is the place to be.
According to Ritz legend, Hemingway liberated the bar from the Nazis in 1944, naturally celebrating the occasion with many bottles of champagne, and it has been named after him ever since. Head bartender Colin Field is now the man in charge, along with his second-in-command Roman Devaux, and together the pair can stir and shake what are probably the strongest martinis in Paris.
The bar itself is also completely charming, harking back to another era with deep leather armchairs and photos of Hemingway. Although you can expect a short wait most nights of the week, a night in the Hemingway Bar is really unlike anywhere else in Paris.