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Castor Club

Le Castor Club Bar in Paris | parisbymouth.com
Photo: Le Castor Club

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.

Practical information

Address: 14 Rue Hautefeuille, 75006
Hours: Closed Sunday and Monday; Open Tuesday & Wednesday from 7PM-2AM; Open Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 7PM-4AM
Telephone: 09 50 64 99 38
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Castor Club in pictures

What people are saying

Le Parisien (2017) says “with its wooden walls, hunting scenes and blues soundtrack, we leave the bar with the impression of having being lost in a Canadian cabin deep in the forest,” giving a special love to “Banana Flip: rum, banana syrup, quail egg, dry sherry, light crème fraîche with a hint of nutmeg.”

L’express (2017) nominates Le Castor Club as one of the 10 best artisanal cocktails in Paris that has been “a benchmark for Parisian bartenders” with its “ambitious and seasonal ingredients that caters to passionate cocktail enthusiasts.”

Lone Palm

Practical information

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.”

52 Martinis (2015) “Here, you can sip like a Californian lounge lizard of the 50’s when “modern design” meant comfy booths, kicky palm prints and Jetsons-like abstract art… Lone Palm is a laid back and nostalgic nod to simpler times that turns out good drinks at good prices without the need to put on airs.”

Paris Bouge (2015) “Tenu par Benoit et Cédric, aussi responsables du Tiki Lounge, le Lone Palm est un bar à cocktails qui revêt l’allure feutrée d’un établissement américain des 60’s, dans une atmosphère qui rappelle la chaleur de Palm Springs ou de Miami.”

Photo via Lone Palm’s Facebook page

Tiger

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.

Baton Rouge

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

Mabel

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. 

CopperBay

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.

Gravity Bar

Practical information

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
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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.”

Le Fooding (2015) “Le Gravity, bar à manger du frais, exerce déjà son pouvoir d’attraction: c’est plein à craquer, extérieur compris.”

52 Martinis (2015) “The selection is packed with ingredients that won’t be immediately recognizable to the average drinker: Gentiane Salers, Maurin Kina, Galliana Ristretto, etc. These kinds of non-mainstream ingredients (well known in the craft cocktail world, less so outside of it) can either elevate or crush a menu. And it takes a skilled professional to pull this off with aplomb. Fortunately, that’s exactly what they have with Michael Mas behind the bar.”

Time Out (2015) “Les assiettes à partager finissent de nous séduire. De la vraie cuisine, imaginative et goûteuse, pour l’apéritif. Bonbons de saumon à l’érable et cacahuète, tataki de canard figue et pistache… Nos papilles frétillent et notre carte bleue se porte bien : toutes les assiettes sont à moins de 10 €. On mange bien, on boit bien et c’est beau.”

Lulu White

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

Les Pinces

Practical information

Address: 29 rue Bourg-Tibourg, 75004
Nearest transport: Hôtel de Ville (1, 11)
Hours: Open Friday-Sunday for lunch and dinner; Open Monday-Thursday for dinner only
Reservations: Walk-Ins Welcome
Telephone: 09 83 56 47 93
Average price for lunch: 20-39€
Average price for dinner: 20-39€
Style of cuisine: American, lobster, cocktails
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Reviews of interest

John Talbott (2015) “The lobsters, flown in from the US or Canada (ours today) were done to perfection and broken up so not a lot of effort had to be expended.  The fries and wine were surprisingly good although a green salad does not work with lobsters – get some coleslaw folks.  We shared a delicious cheesecake and were mighty happy.”

Le Fooding (2014) “In addition to the cocktail bar, they’ve got a one-plate formula for €25 with your choice of either an oven-roasted lobster with a lemon butter sauce, or a lobster roll: lobster meat + mayo + toasted brioche bun. Is it good? Affirmative! And justifiably so: the creatures, flown in from the US and Canada, are removed from their tank (in the wine cellar) alive, before being sent to the massacre… Alternatively, you can have a 500 gram plancha-grilled prime rib, also served with the good house fries.”

Paris Bouge (2014) “Mais ce n’est pas n’importe quel homard: ses Pinces vont vraiment vous plaire… Avec un menu à 25 euros tout rond, Les Pinces peuvent se vanter d’être le moins cher de Paris. Ici, pas de homard congelé mais des achats directement au producteur : USA, Canada (celui du moment) et Bretagne.”

Photo courtesy of Les Pinces’ website

Harry’s New York Bar

Famous for being a Hemingway haunt, Harry’s is responsible for the invention of the (now) classic cocktails the Bloody Mary, the French 75, and the Sidecar.  Stiff, white coat clad bartenders keep a strict dress code in check so shorts aren’t going to cut it. Pants (sigh) are required if you’d like to make it through the door of this historic bar.

— Catherine Down, July 2013

Moonshiner

Skip the pizza at Da Vito and head directly for the refrigerator in the center of the room. The walk-in fridge filled with beer kegs and hanging hams is an entrance to this elegant but unpretentious speakeasy. Get a seat at the bar if you can–both to ogle the impressive collection of vintage barware and because the service leaves a little much to be desired. The drink menu runs heavy on whiskey and mezcal (in a good way) and includes a fresh, seasonal punch for only 6€ each day.

— Catherine Down, July 2013

Beef Club

Practical information

Address: 58 rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, 75001
Nearest transport: Les Halles (4), Étienne Marcel (4)
Hours: Open every day for dinner only
Reservations: Walk-ins Welcome
Telephone: 09 54 37 13 65
Average price for dinner: 40-59€
Style of cuisine: Steak joint, classic French
Website   Facebook

Reviews of interest

Table à Découvert (2013) “Les prix s’envolent vite aussi, comptez 10-15€ pour une entrée au minimum, quant aux viandes, elles s’affichent à partir de 25 ou 30€. Ceci me semble justifié compte-tenu de la qualité et du temps de maturation de la viande (explication en quelques mots: elle est déjà restée à maturer chez l’éleveur et elle reste encore un mois dans les frigos du resto= perte d’eau et de poids, stockage, immobilisation d’espace).”

Simon Says (2012) “Le burger. Pour 23 euros, on est forcément  en embuscade… Sous le capot, il y a du monde avec bun maison au sésame, ceccina, poitrine croustillante, pickles, vieux cheddar et sauce whisky. On le boulotte avec l’énergie locale que diffuse l’habile programmation musicale.”

Le Figaro (2012) “De la mâche, des arômes, un goût comme soudain retrouvé, une viande vamp et vampire,  à vous faire oublier la béarnaise…”

L’Express (2012) “Dans l’assiette, c’est la perfection faite viande: servie épaisse, saisie à l’extérieur, saignante et chaude à coeur, des notes corsées, voire sauvages, du fondant et de la tenue en bouche…”

Alexander Lobrano (2012) “I just don’t get this completely misbegotten and off-kilter version of a New York City steakhouse cross-bred with some wispy English version of same  and then lightly extruded through a French sensibility… I might have liked this place if the food had been better than average and the service half-decent…”

Floyd’s Bar & Grill

At first glance, Floyd’s appears to simply be a bar with craft cocktails and snacks. Keep wandering past the kitchen though and you’ll find the back half of the building is a modern Gallic update on the classic American steakhouse from the team behind Pink Flamingo. The menu features Franco-American fusion items like fried rabbit & waffles or buffalo frog’s legs, plus Kansas City style ribs. Sunday brunch is an Anglo-style roast with Yorkshire pudding and veg for 18€.

L’Entrée des Artistes Pigalle

Practical information

Address: 30 rue Victor Massé, 75009
Nearest transport: Pigalle (2,12)
Hours: Closed Sunday & Monday
Reservations: Walk-Ins Welcome
Telephone: 09 67 27 37 44
Average price for a cocktail: 13€
Average price for dinner: 20-39€
Style of cuisine: Small plates & tapas
Website   Facebook   Book Online

Reviews of interest

Not Drinking Poison in Paris (2015) “I can’t think of another city on earth where such a polished, borderline nightclubby space would house a radical wine program like Vermynck’s. His selection remains unapologetically fringe-natural, but now the raw, untutored wines of Philippe Jambon‘s acolytes share layout space with maîtres like Pierre Overnoy… I can’t shake the feeling that the cuisine is just not yet as sharp as it was at the last location, however.”

L’Express (2015) “… des cocktails premium (mention pour le Chicharito à base de tequila, concombre et miel d’agave infusé aux épices) et des assiettes miniformat: céleri façon carbo, ravioli de shiitaké… Passé 23 heures, le son monte de plusieurs décibels et l’ambiance s’échauffe.”

52 Martinis (2015) “L’Entrée des Artistes Pigalle, delivers the same hat trick of food, wine and cocktails but in a dramatically different SoPi space… The entire menu looks more to focus on cocktail quality rather than cutting edge.”

Le Fooding (2015) “S’en dégage un parfum de polar à L.A., un pousse-à-siroter du raide sur Missin’ Persons Bureau de Womack & Womack : des trucs au rhum, vermouth et grains de café infusés (Altura negroni), au cognac, rye, bitter et liqueur de tabac (Mon vieux tabac) ou à la vodka, jus de betterave, citrons et cordial au gingembre (Fat Beets)… Pour grignoter à la bougie des assiettes de circonstance: truite mi-cuite, anchoiade, grenade et herbes; carpaccio de veau et tapenade de haddock; seiche, aubergine brûlée, sauce thaïe; poireaux vinaigrette, moules et chips de sarrasin; huîtres d’Utah Beach, foie gras ou jambon de bœuf de Galice; ricotta, poires pochées et caramel à plonger le nez dans le bol…”

Reviews from the prior location

Le Figaro (2013) “Un lieu à la croisée des genres entre bar à cocktails, cave à manger et club d’habitués, où l’on se dispute la vingtaine de places disponibles, jusque tard dans la nuit. Très beau choix de vins, cocktails pleins de style et bonne bistrote familiale.”

World’s Best Bars (2011) “The cocktails tend towards the innovative but they’re happy to dish up the classics on request – the super friendly service is part of the appeal. The food menu is compact, but the dishes are tasty (try the cheese or charcuterie plates if you’re in the mood for a snack) and you have the comfort of knowing that they’re keeping it in the family – the food is all made by the sommelier’s mum.”

Not Drinking Poison in Paris (2011) “…alongside a boldly curated natural wine list, a list of cocktails that is the equal of any in the city…”

52 Martinis (2011) “…a relaxed, low key, pint-sized cocktail bar with a significant food and wine list as well…Given the care that’s going into these drinks, L’Entrée des Artistes currently rates as one of Paris’ best values for money in cocktail options.”

Photos courtesy of Jacquelyn Rosenfeld