Recently in need of a show to fill the void left by Game of Thrones (still 6 months until it returns!), I decided to try out Boardwalk Empire (disclaimer: I’m always un-cooly behind with the newest series), the show that makes the prohibition era look like nothing but hard drinks, loose morals… and a whole lot of fun. After just one episode under my belt, I’m in the mood to party like it’s 1923 again and visit some of Paris’ best speakeasy bars – where drinking in secret never looked so chic…
1. EXPERIMENTAL COCKTAIL CLUB, 37 Rue Saint-Sauveur, 75002
The “original” speakeasy of Paris, Experimental Cocktail Club, this speakeasy is a Franco-American love child. Five years ago, a group of French partners were inspired by American-style cocktails, and incidentally, the cocktail culture that was lacking in Paris. Located in the heart of old Montorgueil, this trendy one-room hotspot oozes warmth. Push back the velvet curtains and find golden wallpaper, a glowing chandelier, and curious glittering drinks that match the rich atmosphere.
2. CURIO PARLOR, 16 Rue des Bernardins, 75005
From the same masterminds who brought us Experimental comes the Curio Parlor. This speakeasy, however, is a bit more “grown up.” Here you’ll find the same Rococo prints and modern taxidermy touches, but with more of a dark drinking den feel. As usual, the mixologists known their liquor, and will be happy to create a custom drink for you. If you want to stick to the menu though, you can’t go wrong with the Copa Verde, a devilish mix of tequila, honey, avocado, and lime.
3. CANDELARIA, 52 rue Saintonge, 75003
A recent addition to the speakeasy scene, Candelaria plays up its prohibition roots with a tricky entrance. Instead of being greeted by an unmarked door and some heavy curtains, you’ll find yourself face to face with a very modest (read:small) Mexican resto. You don’t have to check your Iphone for directions though – you’re in the right spot. Simply walk to the back door, and push on through to the clandestine bar. While mingling with locals and ex-pats, make sure to try out the Pisco Disco that’s spiked with edible glitter, and pick up a taco on your way out – they’re all the rage.
4. PRESCRIPTION COCKTAIL CLUB , 23 rue de Mazarine, 75006
Unlike the original speakeasy where you might want to remain anonymous, this is the place to see and be seen. A few steps away from Odeon you’ll find the posher sister of Experimental. Harking back to a 1930s New Orleans Bordello, prices are about the same but client’s wallets are presumably larger. Needless to say, drinks are just as luscious and luxurious as Prescription’s décor. Indulge in a revamped classic – the Very Old Cuban – a mixture of Havana rum, ginger, cordial, sugar cane, lime, bitters, and champagne, or take a walk on the wild side with the flaming Polynesian rum-based Zombie whose recipe remains a secret.
5. LE TRES PARTICULIER, 23 Avenue Junot, 75018
For a taste of nature to go with your covert cocktail, Le Tres Particulier has just what you need. Part of the l’Hotel Particulier in Montmartre, one of Paris’ best boutique hotels, this half-hidden bar sits behind wrought iron gates and high hedges. No bouncer guarding the entrance – just a simple telecom to whisper “je veux prendre un verre” to. Beyond the gates you’ll find a secret garden of sorts where soft piano notes float over café tables and velvet armchairs. Dotted with jet-setters and your usual bobo, drinks are handeled by David, an import from New York (where else?) who’ll mix up one of his specialties, “Between the Sheets.”