Hidden behind an unmarked wooden door near Odéon, Castor Club is easy to miss even for local Parisians. But the discretion is part of the appeal. An anonymous façade leads you into an intimate cocktail bar enveloped in deep green velvet and flatteringly low lighting, with wooden stools only enough to sit handful of guests. Behind the bar, Thomas Codsi, shares inventive yet subtle concoctions with fresh seasonal ingredients. Don’t hesitate to go for signature cocktails like Chirac 95, a twist on a whiskey sour with calvados (along with génépi, spiced apple shrub, egg white, and lemon), or for Turkish Delight (pisco, gum arabic, chartreuse, pistachio cream, lemon and nut meg), and for those less adventurous, a perfectly executed classic Manhattan.
Address: 21 rue Keller, 75011
Nearest transport: Voltaire (9), Bastille (1,5,8), Ledru-Rollin (8)
Hours: Open every day
Reservations: Walk-Ins Welcome
Telephone: 01 48 06 03 95
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What people are saying
Hipsters in Paris (2015) “Excellent drinks made without any pretension, at reasonable prices, with a great vinyl-only soundtrack to get you through the night.”
World’s Best Bars (2015) “Witness the cocktail list, a short but inventive thing, populated in the main by American classics with a few contemporary twists thrown in for good measure. The menu features their take on the Lemon drop, the Royal Jamaican Yacht Club and the Clover Club, but there are also house tipples available featuring ingredients like red pepper and coriander infused tequila.”
On a busy street lined with touristy pubs near Saint Sulpice, Tiger is a cocktail-focused breath of fresh air. Gin & tonics are the specialty here, with more than six variations on the standard available, all made with Tiger’s homemade tonic. Other gin-based cocktails make up a strong part of the menu (think French 75 or martinez), and, as one might expect, the selections for individual gins are excellent, including a version from noted calvados producer Christian Drouin. Those seeking a little variety have other options in the form of a short classic cocktails menu, too. Vaguely Southeast Asian small plates are available, too, if you’re hungry, but the laidback atmosphere and fun cocktails are the true draw.
Helmed by the gregarious Stanislas Jouenne, formerly at La Maison du Whisky, Tiger is a relaxed alternative to the other more serious (and more uptight) cocktail destination nearby, Prescription Club.
Bayou-themed Baton Rouge is a high-end dive that’s strategically manufactured, but still thoroughly enjoyable. It’s rowdy, rollicking good fun; the tone is set by the twangy soundtrack and good-natured staff, who set down a bowl of peanuts immediately upon your arrival and actively encourage you to throw your shells on the floor.
The atmosphere, ripe with plastic alligators, could potentially feel silly, but it’s saved by the cocktails which are anything but. Partners Joseph Biolatto of Le Forum and Julien Escot of noted bar Papa Doble in Montpellier have curated a mixture of pricey bottle-aged cocktails, unusual (for Paris) milk punches, classic American highballs, a variety of old-fashioneds, a cherry-tinged take on New Orleans staple the sazerac, and an original Baton Rouge creation of cognac, absinthe, and vermouth topped with champagne. The cheeky presentation features red Solo cups garnished with paper umbrellas for true American frat party style, or a stroop waffle on top of a bottle for a milk punch.
It’s interesting to see a Parisian bar delve into regionally specific American comfort foods such as shrimp poboys, muffaletta sandwiches and BBQ ribs. While I wouldn’t exactly call the po boy authentic, as that would require the shrimp to be deep-fried and served on an actual hoagie roll, it was tastier than a hot mayonnaise sandwich with a few seared shrimp has any right to be. It’s sloppy, fun, drunk food that didn’t cost a fortune and although not perfect, it does the trick to sop up all the sazeracs.
— Catherine Down, January 2016
Grilled cheese seems like the epitome of spontaneous late-night eats, yet you’ll want to make a reservation at Mabel if you’d like yours washed down with a cocktail. The small speakeasy-style bar nestled behind a family-friendly grilled cheese sandwich shop requires clients to be seated, which is great for a cozy tête-à-tête and less exciting for those who want to mingle. It also means that, while walk-ins are welcome, they could well be disappointed. If the sandwich alone is your poison, you’re better off visiting the street-facing shop, where alongside the traditional a handful of other flavors including a classic tuna melt, vegetarian pepperoni, pulled pork, and rum marinated bacon with egg are on offer. They’re authentically greasy enough despite the virtues of seeded bread.
The bright, expansive bar at CopperBay is a nice antidote to the cramped, dark speakeasies that make up much of the Parisian cocktail scene. It’s unpretentious and accessible, from the perspective of pricing – cocktails start at 10€, which is far lower than most other spots of comparable quality – and of service. Before ordering at the bar, clients are given a deck of cards as the menu. Each one explains a beverage and breaks down the ingredients and flavor profile into a pie chart. Servers are easygoing and attentive. They care about the presentation, potentially too much, and you may find yourself being served a cocktail inside of a plastic bag that roughly resembles a bouquet of flowers, but it’s fun.
A recent favorite during this chilly winter was the “Hot Butterhead” of fragrant calvados, rum, Velvet Falernum, and liberal chunks of still melting butter, served warm in a mug wearing its own woolly sweater. The drinks menu has a good selection of pastis in all its forms, classic drinks, and CopperBay’s own original creations which are complex, multilayered and memorable (even if in the case of some, like the cauliflower-banana rum cocktail, perhaps for the wrong reasons). By way of eats, there’s a small menu of impeccable if typical products (burrata, rillettes). Although CopperBay appears to have gone through a few soul searching iterations since opening in late 2014 – the vaguely nautical bar no longer brands itself as “Mermaids & Magic Potions” for example – it’s hitting its stride right now.
Address: 43 rue des Vinaigriers, 75010
Nearest transport: Jacques Bonsergent (5)
Hours: Closed Sunday & Monday
Reservations: Not Accepted
Telephone: 06 11 84 21 76
Average price for a cocktail:12€
Average price for dinner:10-19€
Style of cuisine: Small plates
Reviews of interest
Le Figaro (2016) “Un comptoir arrondi derrière lequel des barmen à casquette s’affairent à préparer des mixtures bien dosées, à base de gentiane notamment (12€ le verre). La clientèle de jeunes barbus et belles bohèmes apprécient l’ambiance un rien scandinave.”
Oh, that papered over and possibly abandoned storefront? That’s Le Syndicat. Cleverly hidden in plain sight, it doesn’t consider itself a bar per se, but rather, an “Organization in Defense of French Spirits,” where Romain Le Mouëllic and Sullivan Doh (last seen at Sherry Butt) are revisiting and reviving old-fashioned French spirits as the base for unusual cocktails aimed at a fashionable, younger audience. The bar is pegboard and concrete warmed up and made gritty-glamorous by the addition of gold metallic curtains for a utilitarian chic that appeals, based on the size of the comely crowd late on a weeknight. There’s a smattering of pricey nibbles, rillettes of a few sorts or marinated vegetables, but you’re here to explore the obscure aperitifs, eaux de vies, and Cognacs of yore. For €40, commit to the Chemin Educatif which takes you on the Tour de France of booze experiences with a degustation flight of three liqueurs plus one revisited classic cocktail, and one inventive contemporary creation.
Start your Pigalle bar crawl off at this intimate absinthe-focused speakeasy named after a legendary New Orleans madame. This signless spot, from the team behind Little Red Door, joins Dirty Dick and Glass on the increasingly bar-lined rue Frochot. It’s an elegant space in which to explore a variety of absinthes, whether in cocktails or in a flight of three served with water or seasonal syrups. The frozen Carmen Miranda with Four Roses bourbon, strawberry cordial, and Pernod absinthe whirled together in a slushy machine was a hit. The bartenders are unpretentious and friendly, and will make you an off-list cocktail without the green fairy if you are so inclined.
-Catherine Down, January 2015