Paris is not short of places where you can find a decent pour or a boozy night out in town, but three bars we recently visited had us swooning over their tipples and old-world charm. They might not be hugely popular bars, but they are time-honoured ones, and you’d be hard-pressed to find sexier scenes for un verre du vin or a hand-crafted cocktail…
Bar 228 at Le Meurice
This iconic bar designed by Philippe Starck with a Carrara marble counter, flashes of copper, and lots of dark wood is a head-turner for more reasons than one. For a start, there is the atmosphere of it, intimate and exclusive enough to have Paris’s fashion crowd and international celebs dropping by for drinks and conversation to live jazz. Then there is the decor of it, with deep leather armchairs, dark wood paneling and frescoes that date as far back as 1907.
Yes, there is history here, and thousands of stories from when the bar was a hideaway only known to haute monde locals, but what you’ll really remember of it are the creations of legendary barman William Oliveri. This summer, he added two new cocktails to his resume: the Meurice Millenium and the Emerald. While you’re here, do not miss them. In particular, the Cointreau and rosé champagne Meurice Millenium, scented with rose, is a mean drink that hits all the right notes.
Harry’s Bar New York
The red leather booths and wooden bar of this Parisian watering-hole have seen it all. Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre drank here, and on the piano upstairs, American composer George Gershwin wrote An American in Paris. Fittingly, Harry’s Bar New York is thoroughly old school, from the menu of classics like the Side Car and Dry Martini to the bowl of peanuts that comes with your drink.
Then, of course, lunch items that nod at the bar’s American-French roots are attractions in their own right, from club sandwiches and croque madames to the chef’s salad and chili con carne. As the locals put it, Harry’s Bar is like a club that you don’t need a membership to go to, and the history and soul of it makes it a small corner of Manhattan in the heart of Paris…
Le Bar at La Réserve Hotel & Spa Paris
The hotel it calls home is a pure Napoleon dynamite, and the favorite address of fashion editors in the French capital… Welcome to Le Bar at La Réserve Paris, where the bartenders can create a drink to your tastes, and remember the recipe for next time.
Not that you’ll need to imagine your own drink. The menu here has all of the greatest classics in the art of cocktail-making, and if that’s not your kind of thing, you’re sure to find something in the vintages of the bar’s Library. Just grab a cosy fireside table and let La Réserve phenomenon take you over, from the Jacques Garcia interiors of velvet drapery, silk damask walls and gilt frames, to the grand, stirringly romantic vibe of the building itself, just off the Champs-Élysées and Avenue Montaigne.
For more Parisian experiences, stay tuned…