Beer, Cocktail, Wine Bars - Paris Is Sure To Quench Your Thirst

In recent years, artisanal brew pubs along with Cocktail lounges have definitely become the places to be in Paris. So you will readily find extensive and creative cocktails in the many hipster cocktail lounges around town, some of the most famous being Little Red Door, Dirty Dick's, the Mary Celeste, Candelaria and Prescription Cocktail club. What you will also now find, side-by-side with the classic French Brasseries (which means brew pub in French) are craft brew pubs, such as BrewDog, selling house made beers on tap.

Wine bars in Paris are their own genre so most of those you’ll discover on their own, separate listing. And since everyone who's ever been to Paris has found their way at least once to rue Daunou, you owe it to yourself to say hi to Harry while you’re in town.

Paris offers so many experiences, so many venues, that whatever you feel like in the moment has an answer, a perfect place, just waiting to satisfy. One night you may feel like putting on the stilettos and little black cocktail dress to sip bubbly from crystal flutes while sitting gazing deeply into the eyes of your mate. And the next night you both may just head on out in jeans to kick it at a brew pub serving craft beer on a spectacular sidewalk terrace just steps from the Picasso Museum.  

Choices on this list range from a bar where Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to knock them back, to a terrace rooftop just a kiss away from the Arc de Triomphe, to a craft beer brew pub in the ultra-trendy Upper Marais. 


3rd Arondissement - Marais

This bar, as its name implies, is dedicated to the elixir of the Gods from Oaxaca known to us mortals as Mezcal. Sure, the Meixican eau de vie made from agave is all the rage right now in the trendiest of cocktail bars from Lima to Lisbon, and here in Paris it's no different. What's particularly attractive about this bar is that it's hidden behind Inka Restaurant, all abuzz these days for its fresh take on Peruvian cuisine. You literally have to walk through the restaurant's hot kitchens (wave hello to Chef Recamier on your way if you will!) in order to get to this clandestine bar in the back. Cocktail specials change here seasonally but you can be sure that each is religiously mixed with reverence for the main ingredient, Mezcal. Tunes are a mix of Latin beats and old school R&B with a décor heavily peppered by oversized Christian crosses.

6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche

Set decorated like a vintage gas station, this new-ish bar just around the cornder from Odéon has become a quick hit with beer lovers and wine aficionados. Part of the appeal is that you can self-serve your own beers, from taps that have been fashioned to dispense beer straight from the old gas station pump dispensing guzzles. How it works is that you put some cash on a little magnetic-strip card when you arrive and with that you can pretty much serve yourself beer all night, or until you use up the cash on your beer card. The wine menu will also keep most wine lovers satisfied, too. And, by the end of the evening you're sure to have mastered how to pour yourself a beer with the least amount of foam on top.

4th Arondissement - Beaubourg an

You can't really tell when you walk by it, but this little bar actually has a downstairs basement where they hold regular jam sessions, mostly jazz. They also host art openings and other things that go well with natural wines, beer and cocktails. The address is like hitting a Bull's Eye in Paris. The Quai de Bourbon is named after, of course, the Bourbon lineage of French aristocracy. It's this family line of which King Louis XIV, the famous Sun King, was a descendant. This little island in the center of Paris, Ile St.-Louis, is named after the first King Louis (the 14th's great great great ancestor), later beatified by the Holy Roman Church, hence Saint Louis. In any case, if it's a bit of centuries-old-history or just a good cocktail you're looking for, you'll find it here. They also serve chef-inspired small verrines of chicken morsels, worthy of a gourmet. Most nights attract a pretty nice crowd, so best to stop in early otherwise it's likely standing room only.

16éme Arrondissement
Hotel Raphael Rooftop Bar
Photo courtesy of Hotel Raphael Paris Rooftop Bar photo copyright 2014 Cohen

This is the Parisian rooftop bar to beat all rooftop bars. Seriously. And I'll be honest, I am not one for hotel bars. But the rooftop bar of the Hotel Raphael, just a stone's throw from the Arc de Triomphe, is one of those gems you wish were open all year long. Alas, it's only open during the summer months. Here the seating is arranged in discreet manner so you get both the sense of a rooftop lounge with panoramic views of the Sacre-Cœur, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, while maintaining that sense of a private rendez-vous. For this season, I've heard murmurings that Bbq is the theme so any sunny afternoon or early evening that you stop by, you may just be able to get some hot skewers of steak, chicken and shrimp to go with your glasses of champagne and fresh strawberry cocktails.

8éme Arrondissement
Secret 8 by Buddha Bar
Photo courtesy of FB Secret 8 by Buddha Bar

The famed Buddha Bar needn't re-invent itself as a hipster speakeasy. It simply added a Secret Bar behind a hidden wall in a place you'd never suspect. So the big Buddha remains but if you're looking for a more intimate kind of evening, ask the hostess to show you the way to the hidden bar, the Secret 8. Cocktails here get pretty inventive, too: One is made with mushroom flavors and bits of the fungus, presented on a bed of green moss. Vodka seems to be the spirit of choice for the mixologists here. Seating can accommodate up to about 25 people maximum, so if you're a large group, best come early. Check their FB page for the month's riddle. When you solve it, the answer acts as your password for entry. For example, to have the privilege of sipping a Walk On The Wild Side or Snowy Venezia cocktail in November you would have had to figure this one out: I am leaving, sailing away, From heat of the flame that I used to accompany. On the water I am now as deep purple would say, And here I dance, hypnotizing and tasty, without leading to danger. In 5 words I am

In its handful of years since opening, this place has become the cocktail institution. The founders, a group of badboy buddies, has since gone on to open several more clubs and even one in NYC. They are often credited (accurately or inaccurately) with bringing the modern day craft cocktail movement to Paris. Nonetheless, the cocktails here are creative and easily downable. The ambiance is more a rocker vibe and it's the kind of place where the music is so loud you can't hear what the person next to you is saying. Sometimes that can be a good thing. Of course, though, that's for you to decide.

6éme Arrondissement

Ever fantasized about having a drink with Emile Zola, Apollinaire and Paul Cézanne, or even Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Miller ? Les Lilas is the place. Or at least, in the 20's/30's it was, and especially on Tuesday nights when international thinkers and artists gathered, talked and drank. But this storied venue dates back even farther, to the mid-19th c. when it was a station on the road to Fontainebleu. Its (former) garden of lilac trees helped create its Thousand-and-One-Nights reputation and anchored Montparnasse's café culture. Today its piano bar is still beloved like a well-worn, leather-bound book. Many an expat swear it's the place to find yourself a good stiff drink on a cold winter night or warm summer evening. But, Hemingway said it best, "The only decent café in our neighborhood was La Closerie des Lilas, and it was one of the best cafés in Paris."

3rd Arondissement - Marais

This Scottish brew pub has flown the coop and is now perched on the shores of Paris. You'll find that this new incarnation of the beer hall is both artisanal and hip. The location they chose for their Parisian outpost couldn't be more picturesque: Place Thorigny is a stone's throw from the Picasso Museum and a nice quiet little corner of the hipster Upper Marais. Although this is the first of its kind in Paris, the bar is aleady 100 strong thanks to a most innovative business model that relies on crowdfunding. It calls its tribe Equity Punks and there are a lot of perks that go with being one. But, back to the beer... You'll find a strong selection of lagers, IPAs, sours and blondes. They even let you taste before you choose. For small bites, you have pizza, more pizza a couple of salads on the menu and plancha which are the French cheese and sausage laden cutting boards.

Legend has it that Gershwin composed « An American in Paris » in the downstairs piano bar here. I don't doubt it as the other legend, that Fitzgerald drank himself unconscious at Harry's, seems to have held up through the ages. But most people who come here to enjoy a whiskey-sour, bloody Mary or rum-and-coke in the wood-paneled bar, probably don't come her for those reasons, even if they do know who Gershwin and Fitzgerald are. Harry's is just one of those Paris bars that has always been and forever will be. It was established in 1911. And its location, just by Opéra and Place Vendome, make it so very convenient. It's also a good spot to hang out in if you're looking for some expat comraderie.

9éme Arrondissement

Itching for a truly authentic tropical fruity cocktail? This Tiki Bar in the grand tradition of Tiki Bars is the only true Tiki Bar in Paris. Its owner is a devotee of the haloed pedigree that tiki bars have evolved from and it was with this reverence for hand pressed fresh juices and daily made small batch mixes that he runs his shop here in SoPi. SoPi, South Pigalle, refers to a very trendy nightlife area in Paris that is seeing rapid gentrification. It is the Moulin Rouge district of Paris and this district, Pigall, was once known for its seedier sides. Not so anymore. It has fast become the area where fashionable restaurants and trendy bars have popped up. So much so that if you want to spend a night bar-hopping without the hassle of catching taxis all over the city, this is a good place for it. However, mind you, if you start out here at Dirty Dick's, the cocktails are so good you might never leave!


Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige