In a way, Paris just might be forever stuck in the 1920s; the style, the romantic nostalgia, the general attitude toward adultery -- and indeed the speakeasies. Sure, Europe never went through prohibition itself, but now these under-wraps drink dens are hidden for a different purpose: to keep them free of passing light-beer-fuled yokels. To make sure you are not that yokel, we’ve got the skinny on the very best hush-hush cocktail spots the city has to offer…
1. Experimental Cocktail Club
You can’t talk about the craft cocktail scene in Paris without mentioning Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC), and with a barely marked door off of a side street to the famed restaurant street Rue Montorgeuil, it’s one of Paris’s first speakeasy-themed bars. But since it’s been around for a few years, it’s also popular which means it can be hard to get into. Obsessive barkeeps will mix you anything from a precision-crafted classic (their Tommy's Marg comes w/ bourbon vanilla & cloves), to an appropriately experimental original, such as the Tears and Vinegar which mixes whiskey w/ balsamic to delicious effect.
2. Curio Parlor
A few taxidermy animals with your cocktail sir? Brought to you by the owners of ECC, at Curio Parlor, there are private nooks complete with curtains so you can section you and your date off from the rest of the world. They’re known for serving a proper cocktail, and since it’s busy, if you want to make the best of it, consider heading on a weeknight. Also? It contains the only Nikka whiskey bar outside of Japan.
To make your way to the hidden entrance for this joint, you first have to head through the busy pizzeria, into the back, and into the freezer, after which you can chill out (!) in their secret drinkery. Liquor comes served truly old school in flasks, and you can get the likes of a daily, ever-changing (and cheap) punch, or a crazy-strong rum/gin/vodka Smokey Island.
4. Le Très Particulier
This semi-secret bar is located in the boutique Hôtel Particulier de Montmartre, and to get in, you have to ring the buzzer at the black door, then say that you want to “prendre un verre” (that means "have a drink". Subtle.). Once you’re in, you’ll find a secret garden, and a cozy library w/ a fireplace inside. The 'tenders are bussed in from New York, and'll mix you a mean Old Fashioned.
5. Le Ballroom du Beef Club
Accessible only by a black, unmarked door, Le Ballroom is the underground space of the restaurant Beef Club. The speakeasy feel comes as no surprise, as it’s from the same people behind ECC. It's dimly lit, has dark colors and lots of velvet, and the menu has only eight cocktails -- but they're all perfectly formed, and include the delicious Salers Smash mixing absinthe, Champagne, mint & lime.
Granted, the windows of Candelaria look out onto the street, which means it's not the easiest of speakies. That being said, it's not all that easy to see how to get in. Here's how: walk through the cramped taqueria (cramped for a reason: tacos are hard to come by in Paris) and push the unmarked door at the back to get into full-on craft cocktail world, and snag yourself a tequila/hibiscus Santa Margarita.
7. L’Acte 3
This super-discreet address (you must, of course, find the door with no sign) in Paris has something going for it the others don’t: you can play mixologist and choose your own combination of alcohols and syrups to make a personal cocktail. You can also head downstairs to the underground section which is outfitted in vintage furniture and a dark ambience that’s perfect for a dance club, thanks to the DJ spinning in the corner.
1. Moonshiner5 rue Sedaine, Paris
2. Experimental Cocktail Club37 Rue Saint-Sauveur, Paris
3. Curio Parlor16 Rue des Bernardins, Paris
4. Le Très ParticulierPavillon D, 23 Ave Junot, Paris
5. Le Ballroom du Beef Club58 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Paris
6. Candelaria52 Rue de Saintonge, Paris
7. L’Acte 394 rue Quincampoix, Paris
This is your quintessential speakeasy because the only way to get in is to find the secret entrance inside a busy pizza parlor. If you manage to do so, congrats, you deserve one of their tasty liquid concoctions.
This low-key Paris speakeasy provides a calm vibe and a comfortable space to sip on some creative and delicious cocktails, which the place is renowned for.
Brought to you by the owners of the Experimental Cocktail Club, this 'tail joint has an extensive drink menu and once you order, you can pull a curtain across your space for a more intimate and private experience.
Since this place is a secret, don't tell anyone we told you, but if you go into the boutique Hôtel Particulier de Montmartre and ring a buzzer at the black door and say “prendre un verre” (that's the password), you'll gain entry to this sweet secret garden and speakeasy.
Located in the basement of the resto Beef Club, this speakeasy is dimly lit, features lots of velvet and you know the drinks are spectacular since it was opened by the same folks behind the Experimental Cocktail Club.
Candelaria, in the 3rd arrondissement, is a practically 24hr taqueria that's got all the Mexican goodness you could want, plus a brunch menu and a ton of cocktails, including more than a few filled with tequila. The coolest part of Candelaria is the spot's well-hidden second half: behind an unmarked white door by the kitchen you'll find a DJ spinning alongside the bar that's now considered among the top four cocktail bars in the world according to Tales of the Cocktail.