There’s no shortage of bars in Paris. Practically an extension of his or her living room, many a Parisian will meet up with friends in their local after work and before dinner to catch up over the “apéro.” Typically, you’ll order a simple glass of wine or beer, maybe a “kir”—white wine mixed with Crème de Cassis—or a glass of champagne if there’s something to celebrate. The bar will usually serve your drinks with something small (and usually salty) to nibble on, anything from olives, chips or peanuts. But if your apéro extends to more than a drink or two, there’s often the option of a more substantial cheese or charcuterie platter. More sophisticated cocktail bars have been springing up around town over the last few years, too, turning out creative drinks and cultivating loyal followings. “Best” is a relative term, but you can count on Paris’s best bars—whether local haunts or hot spots du jour—living up to their promise of a good time.
This hybrid site combines an excellent taqueria with a speakeasy cocktail bar hidden out the back. Squeeze in street-side for excellent tacos and margaritas, and then go through the secret door at the back into the dim bar with a touchy-feely California-style interior, and a looong list of excellent tequilas.
Aux Deux Amis
It’s always hard to find a seat at this popular Oberkampf wine bar, buzzing with happy locals climbing over each other to sample the wine list or the creative small plates menu. The décor is totally lo-fi, and there’s a ring of tables out front when weather permits.
Experimental Cocktail Club
Open since 2007 and one of the pioneers on the Parisian cocktail scene, this place remains a Mecca for grown-ups on the lookout for serious drinks, though can be hard to get in to. The mixologists wear shirts and ties, and are meticulous about their craft. The dim and muted décor evokes an elegant speakeasy from bygone days.
Le Comptoir Générale
This one-of-a-kind spot is one of the most surprising venues in Paris. The sprawling ground-floor space dedicated to “arts from the ghetto,” especially from Africa, also doubles as a wild bar and live music venue that attracts all sorts of Parisian flora and fauna. Stop in for a drink, and watch the theater unfold.
The name says it all at this understated bar just below Montmartre. There’s a short but quality list of natural wines and cocktails, plus an excellent menu of tasty French plates to share. The focus is on quality ingredients, and the items change seasonally. When the weather’s fine, the owners open up the bar on to the street.