The French take their traditions seriously, and when it comes to drinking, wine reigns supreme. Aside from the occasional apéritif in the evening, such as a glass of pastis or a Kir Royal, serious cocktails were, for many years, in short supply.
Now, all that has changed. It began in 2007 with the Experimental Cocktail Club, based on New York’s original modern speakeasy, Milk & Honey. Shortly after came bars such as Little Red Door, a veritable imagination factory of drink ideas, and Candelaria, a taqueria hiding a secret cocktail bar in the back. As more and more of these creative cocktail bar opened, stylish Parisians began to embrace a more laissez faire attitude towards eating and drinking.
The team behind Candelaria has gone on to open four more bars, changing the face of Paris’ night scene. Their most recent opening is Hero, a Korean fried chicken hotspot with soju cocktails. Just up the road, bartender Joseph Akhavan is leading a rum renaissance—in a city that notoriously favors homegrown goods over imports—with Mabel. Taking the opposite approach, Le Syndicat makes every one of their drinks with French spirits—including French gin and whiskey.
Finally, native Nico de Soto, who cut his teeth at the Experimental Cocktail Club, first in Paris, then London, and now in New York where he co-owns Mace, has returned to his homeland to open his own 2nd Arrondissement bar, Danico, which is very chic, vaguely nautical and pleasingly French.