Cocktail bars are a dime a dozen in Paris these days: New and trendy ones open on a rolling basis, with some standing the test of time and others disappearing almost as quickly as they popped up. Others are legendary, elegant addresses that exemplify old-world Parisian glamour, all the while staying up to the moment with innovative drinks and renovated interiors. Still others are exclusive, secretive places for a drink, often even affording you encounters with a celebrity or members of the international jet-set. Whatever your preferred ambience, read on for what we deem to be the 6 best cocktail bars in Paris for luxury lovers: exceptional places where the drinks are superb, and the setting is as opulent and prestigious as they come.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the city’s most elegant cocktail bars is situated within one of its most luxurious hotels: the 5-star Hotel Le Meurice. Bar 228 is at once cozy and sumptuous, with deep leather armchairs, elaborate Lavalley frescoes and soft lamplights. The original bar, opened in 1905, has recently been re-imagined by the acclaimed Philippe Starck, who has brought touches of the contemporary to the traditional interiors. The ambience here is close to one found in a private club.
Helmed by celebrated barman William Oliveri, the bar has a long history as a place where wealthy and famous patrons perched for a drink or two: Sophia Loren, Salvador Dali, and tempestuous lovers Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are among those to have frequented the 228. The elaborate drinks menu offers an ideal balance between tradition and innovation: Oliveri’s Bellini is coveted among those with discerning tastes for cocktails, while his special creations include “The Starcky”, named in honour of the bar’s redesigner, and The Juanito: a mojito that’s been amplified and decorated with fresh raspberries. Nurse your drink and enjoy live piano music, played at discreet enough decibels to enable good conversation to flourish.
This bar near the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is prized among wealthy Parisians and travelers for before or after-dinner drinks. Well-known for its bespoke cocktails– the barmen will mix anything worthy of your imagination, inspired from a menu of key ingredients– this is an ideal place to sit back and bask in luxurious surroundings. Housed in La Reserve Hotel, which affords gorgeous views of the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais and also boasts a spa with indoor pool, the bar features deep red velvet seating, candelabras and opulent mirrors, creating a sense of old-world romance. Cocktails include the Elisabeth, a fruity concoction made with White Lillet, La Réserve Jam, cranberry juice, Chambord Liqueur, and Jeeper Grand Rosé Champagne. The Fizzy Travel, meanwhile, combines Grey Goose Black Cherry vodka, Lillet rose wine, house syrup, lemon juice and Michel Reybier champagne. As mentioned, ask for a bespoke drink based on your whims– you’re certain to be surprised.
If you’re more of a wine lover, this bar is especially prized for its extensive and prestigious wine lists, including bottles from the Hotel La Reserve’s very own domains (Cos d’Estournel and Domaine Tokaj Hétszõlõ). Every Thursday of the month, moreover, there are exclusive wine evenings held here: a French winemaker presents his or her wine, leads guests in tastings, and all partake in a gourmet four-course meal. This is an event that any wine lover visiting the capital should consider attending..
Opened in 2011 in partnership with cult filmmaker and artist David Lynch, this private club has quickly become one of the most exclusive places in the capital for lounging and drinking in high style. Numerous celebrities, from actors to models and politicians and writers, are members, and the club considers itself “the successor to salons, 17th century Parisian literary circles, the clubs of 18th-century London”, and other arty, private groups.
David Lynch actively collaborated in the design of the club, which is straight out of his eerie but elegant universe: it features two bars framed with heavy red and blue curtains, a stage, and even a cinema where members can enjoy screenings while sipping their finely crafted cocktails. There’s also a smoking room, a gallery, a library and a “backroom” .For anyone interested in art, cinema, or hobnobbing with the Parisian elite, a membership at the Silence is certainly a possibility worth exploring.
This legendary watering hole is named, of course, after American novelist Ernest Hemingway, who frequented it along with his friend and fellow writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. Rumour even has it that Hemingway himself forced the German Gestapo out of the Ritz at the end of World War II, getting into a characteristic brawl after drinking an inhuman number of martinis.
While it’s unclear whether this heroic exploit has any basis in fact, a visit to this classically elegant bar is certainly in order, perhaps after shopping for a custom piece at one of the classic Paris jewelers on Place Vendome (where the Ritz stands) or the Rue Saint-Honore, home to countless high-luxury boutiques. The private-club atmosphere here seduces with deep wood, green leather seating and portraits of famous patrons; Cole Porter and Gary Cooper are among the other famous regulars of past decades. The drinks menu, mostly traditional, carries a few surprises thanks to the creativity of head barman Colin Peter Field and his colleague Roman Devaux: try the Velvet Falernum, a cordial bringing together notes of citrus, cloves, ginger and other spices.
Book lovers will especially appreciate this opulent yet warm bar, situated at the luxury hotel of the same name and boasting some 12,000 volumes on its shelves. Enjoy the atmosphere of quiet, confidentiality and scholarly elegance as you sip cocktails prepared by the lauded head barman, Gaël Brissiaud. Well known for his innovative use of botanicals, some of his more creative cocktails include the signature Saint James Julep, which mixes Hendrick’s gin with Benedictine, Madagascar vanilla liqueur, lemon, fresh mint and griotte jam (from a small European red fruit with a particular tartness). Another favorite is the Southern Bud, with Botanist gin, bitter lavender, “peres Chartreux elixir”, and maple syrup.
If you so choose, you can dine at the one-star Michelin restaurant at the St James, headed by Chef Jean-Luc Rocha. A unique way to sneak in gourmet experiences before or after a cozy cocktail hour.
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Anyone with knowledge of the Parisian luxury scene will already be familiar with Avenue Montaigne’s ultra-chic Plaza Athenée hotel, another hub for the well-heeled and famous in the capital. The recently renovated bar at the palace hotel naturally makes our list of exclusive spots for a cocktail in the French capital: walls panelled with warm wood juxtapose with boldly contemporary furnishings and a futuristic bar fashioned from clear resin. A DJ plays live music here several times a week, but not to worry: it won’t drown out your conversation.
Bespoke cocktails in small, medium or large sizes and served in chic murano glasses and topped with eye-catching decorations.
You can also order one of the signature cocktails, such as the French 25th: Belvedere Vodka infused with citrus fruits, vine flower liqueur, jasmine sirup, lime, white egg, Champagne, and extra virgin olive oil. We also covet the Purple Goddess, melding Spicy Sailor Jerry Rhum, with lime, Marashino liqueur, strawberry beetroot – balsamic puree, orgeat syrup, and Angostura bitters to round off this highly original drink. You can see a full bar menu here.
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