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 (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
A new crop of intimate cocktail bars and lounges has opened in Paris in the last 12 months. Here are some of our new favorites.
Once a staple of Paris nightlife, most piano bars have closed in the last decade because of new nightlife trends. Going against the grain, New York interior designer Kein Cross, now living in Paris part time, has opened Club RaYé, a cocktail and piano bar. Located in on an almost deserted side street in the 2nd arrondissement, Kein desired to bring old fashioned glamour back to the club scene in Paris and it has the feel of an Art Deco set from an Astaire and Rogers film. Kein has been obsessed with wide black and white stripes since he was a kid and generously uses them as the motif for the club. The focal point of the room is the white lacquered grand piano, with a mirrored wall and ceiling behind it, so no matter where you are sitting in the room you can view the piano player. Signature cocktails, some harkening back to yesteryear, include Pisco Sours, Mint Juleps, Daiquiris, Grasshoppers, and classic Martinis. London-based chef Simon Bannon prepares a small plates menu including dishes like arancini (fried rice balls), delicate rolatini (eggplant leaves stuffed with cheese), blinis with smoked salmon, and deviled eggs.
Le Mary Celeste
After successfully opening the hipster bar Glass, ex-New Yorkers Adam Tsou and Josh Fontaine along with Colombian Carina Soto Velasquez have followed it up with Le Mary Celeste. The name is based on a legend about a merchant ship from 1872 with 1,701 barrels of grain alcohol that sunk en route from New York to Genoa. The bi-level space has seating for 40 plus on one level and an open kitchen with additional seating on the lower floor and is located in the trendy Northern Marais area.
Le Mary Celeste offers good selection of micro brewery beers with some from Brooklyn on tap, an impressive wine list, and custom cocktails by Carlos, the revered mixologist who was lured from L’Hotel after six years. The not so slick, homey style bar also serves tacos, fresh oysters, and Chinese buns. A DJ spins retro 80s tunes.
Lockwood is a new concept bar, a coffee bar during the day and at night grows up to be an aperitifs and cocktail bar. Brulerie Belleville coffee and light food including croissants and tartines for breakfast and salads, soups, and sandwiches at lunch is served in on the main level in an appealing setting of wood paneling, brick floors, and bar stools. Come early evening the downstairs has an intimate setting with stone caves with low chairs and small tables. Aperitifs include Aperol Spritze, Campari Orange, Americano, and Paloma. Graduates to the more sophisticated cocktails the menu include The Whet Appetite, a mix of tequila, cucumber, and a dash of Tabasco, Zacapa, a blend of rum, apple and cinnamon sugar, orange and angostura bitters, and Whiskey Pomme, an interesting combo of Buffalo Trace and apple juice.
26 rue Dussoubs, 75002
Le Mary Celeste
1 rue de Commines, 75003
73 rue Aboukir, 75002