In Food + Drink

Paris’ Secret Cocktail Bars And How To Find Them

Exploring Paris’ nightlife and myriad of cocktail bars in various quartiers is always delightful. But when you have to discover the secret entrance- behind an Indian eatery, beneath a kebab joint or literally through a washing machine in a laundromat, the experience delivers even more of a thrill.

Here are five of Paris’ secret cocktail bars. Search them out, and you’ll be rewarded with top mixologists, cool clientele and cleverly themed design.

Baranaan

Follow the railway tracks inside the tiny Indian restaurant Elaichi (just by the Porte Saint-Denis in the lively 10th arrodisement) and push through the door with an opened mouth tiger at the back of a jungle themed corridor. Puff! You’ve arrived in the festive dining and bar carriage of a vintage train streaking through India.

Incense, intriguing flowery cocktails and freshly baked naan (cooked in an oven by the bar) flavour the air; Indian landscape scenes fly by as if from your window from screens on the wall and a DJ delivers inspired lounge/chill-out fusions, while bar staff are friendly and refreshingly quirky. Slide into a booth and enjoy the delicious cocktails and tasty Indian snacks over laughs with friends and fellow passengers.

7 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010, 6:30pm- 2am (Tuesday – Thursday) and 6.30pm-4am (Friday – Saturday)

La Mezcaleria  

Pass the reception of the Inka (or ‘1K’) hotel in the trendy Marais and you’ll arrive at a cocktail bar. It’s pretty enough with sky-lighting, hanging plants and shmick bar staff, however it doesn’t feel that ‘secret’ – the trick here is to ask the staff for the other bar.  They’ll nod and politely point to the restaurant; head through then turn right through the kitchen to find a back door.

Welcome to Oaxaca- the Mezcal district of Mexico, with colourful tapestries, cacti, decorated skulls and Aztec decorations. Perch at the bar and mull with the expert mixologist over whether to try the Murrey y Muerte (mezcal, cold brew coffee and absinthe), the Fizz de Paloma (mezcal union, grapefruit, oxydized wine and champagne) or perhaps the Wolf Gang (mezcal, mango, coriander and  sherry).

13 Boulevard du Temple, 75003, Tuesday- Saturday 6pm–2am

Lavomatic

Despite the fact that you may now encounter a 20 minute wait, it’s still an experience to step into the laundromat, press a button on a washing machine and find a hidden staircase leading up to a cocktail bar.

Once inside, the vibe is that of a chic apartment with colourful couches and carpets, bar stools, books to browse and a few swing seats to literally kick back in with a cocktail.

30 Rue René Boulanger, 75010, Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm-late  

Le Ballroom du Beefclub

Wandering through the Paris streets at night is a popular past time. Stroll by the magnificent gothic church St Eustache in the centre near Les Halles, and turn the corner into Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and seek out the Beef Club restaurant. Beside, a black door leads down to an industrial stairwell spruced up with fairy lights.

Spiral down and you’ll land safely in the hands of the highly respected team from the Experimental Group (of the nearby Experimental Cocktail Club, the Prescription Cocktail Club and the Grand Pigalle Hotel).

It’s all very speak-easy with candle-lit tables, cosy couch areas and well-dressed barmen. The cocktails combine seasonal fruit, home made syrups and carefully chosen spirits, made with obvious care. DJs liven things up on the weekend when the club stays open till 4am. 

58 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001, Sunday-  Saturday, 7pm -late 

Hammam Bar

Kebabs are normally an after-thought for a night out, but Hammam elevates them to the top of the list. The bar is hidden below a gourmet kebab shop on rue St Maur in the gritty 11th arrondissement. The kebab restaurant itself is worth a pitstop for well-executed, interesting street food, but head downstairs and you’ll find a minuscule bar.

The resident mixologists are always happy to discuss the science of cocktail making and the origins of the botanical ingredients. Abandon the menu, tell them your preferences and settle in with a bespoke tipple.

Since this bar is so tiny, you’re immediately part of the action, regardless of private parties, which can be a hoot.

4 rue de l’Orillon Paris 11, Tuesday- Saturday 7pm- 2am

Published 16 July, 2018