Cocktail Hour in Paris

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (, and also writes a popular insider's blog

Cocktails have always been an American staple, but in recent years there’s been a big revival with all kinds of new inventive concoctions including the Cosmopolitan, which kicked off the craze a few years back. Paris is a relative newcomer to the cocktail hour, where just a few years ago you could only get a decent martini at a five-star hotel. Many cafes and bars now have Happy Hour drink menus that include Mojitos, Margaritas, and even frozen daiquiris.

La Perla, an authentic Mexican restaurant in the heart of the Marais, boasts a Happy Hour with half-price drinks from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday. Have a pitcher of Margaritas or their specialty Mojito with hot salsa and corn chips. A few blocks away is La Perle (don’t confuse the two), a café equivalent to a dive bar, where Paris hipsters hangout swilling down good, cheap red wine.

flute bar paris

Flute Champagne Bar in Paris

If you want to put on the Ritz, the legendary Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel is still quite the watering hole. Peter O’Toole sweet-talked Audrey Hepburn into stealing a million dollar statue while sitting in the dark leather armchairs surrounded by rich wood paneling in the 1966 caper film How to Steal a Million. Forbes magazine ranked it the best bar in the world, and bartender Colin Field was named world’s best barman in 2001 for his exotic, original cocktails; Picasso martini, made with gin and a cube of Noilly Pratt; cider Ritz; a combination of apple cider and Champagne; Kashenka, Polish vodka and strawberries; and Lemon Charlie, made with Limoncello and Smirnoff black vodka are among the many drinks Colin can shake but never stir for you.

Former Philippe Starck protégé Patrick Jouin recently revamped the bar at the Plaza Athenee and turned it into the hottest cocktail spot in town. It’s so chic even Carrie from Sex in the City would leave Mr. Big and return to Paris to have a drink there.  The super clever B-52’s Jell-O shots are served on a tray in rows of three with flavors like ginger martini and Mojito mist.

If you are looking for old-fashioned bubbles to tickle your nose, there’s no better place than Flute Champagne Bar. A spin-off of the very successful New York Flute, the small, intimate lounge/bar offers over 100 different types of Champagne, specializing in boutique vineyards. Twenty vintages are offered by the glass and prices start at a modest 50 euros to over 2,000 euros for a bottle. Try the Chartogne-Taillet Rose, a wonderful dry pink Champagne.

From down and dirty Margaritas to an elegant flute of Champagne, there’s a cocktail waiting for you in the City of Light.

La Perla

26 rue François Miron  75004
Tel: 01 42 77 59 40

La Perle

78, Rue Vieille du Temple 75003
Tel: 01 42 72 69 93

Hemingway Bar— Ritz Hotel

15 Place Vendome 75001
Tel: 01 43 16 30 30

Plaza Athenee Bar

25 Avenue Montaigne 75008
Tel: 33 1 53 67 66 00


19 rue de L’Etoile,75017
Tel: 01 45 72 19 14

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