Here are three hard-to-find drinking dens, perfect for intimate candlelit evenings away from the hordes:
Where Le Haut Marais (52 rue de Saintonge)
Vibe Mexican Taqueria meets twinkling cave of cocktail delights
Great For Whispering sweet nothings, a casual catch-up in a shadowy alcove.
For a laid-back, candelit cocktail, this is one of my favourite bars in Paris. Enter a scruffy Mexican “taqueria” from the unassuming Rue de Saintonge; think plywood booths and a minute open-plan kitchen space serving up quesedillas and tostadas. Resist the tasty food smells, walk through past the “kitchen” on your right and straight through the white door in front of you into this candlelit grotto.
Atmospheric with delicious drinks, expect old school Hip-Hop meets Theophilus London, and a nonchalantly beautiful twenty-something crowd. The compact bar stays buzzy without hitting frenzied territory; save your Macarena for elsewhere, this place is all about the casual shoulder sway (but strictly no posing). Me like.
Where Le Bastille (5 Rue Sedaine)
Vibe Party Chez Gastby, Prohibition-Chic.
Good For Impressing les amis with your insider knowledge, Relaxed post-dinner drinks.
Slightly trickier to find, Moonshiner rocks a distinctly prohibition vibe. To passers by, it’s nothing more than a pizza restaurant called “Da Vito” (tasty tasty), but those in the know will head through the wooden tables and through the “vault-like” door without a moments hesitation. Do not be alarmed if you find yourself in their meat fridge – it’s all part of the plan. Traverse the dangling hams and push through the second door into an unpretentious 30s-inspired lounge.
More low-key than Candelaria, the tunes are 1930s vintage vinyll or bust, with a loungey vibe. Moonshiner nicely straddles a vintage aesthetic without being overly self conscious (do not, I repeat do not wear spats).
Beware: Their large flagons of Punch du Jour are potent. We saw a tweed-clad gentleman swaying after a mysterious concoction served in a gramophone too..
Where Saint Germain (23, Rue Mazarine)
Vibe Elegant 1930s gentleman’s club, with many a bearded BoBo.
Good For A really fantastic and unusual cocktail, people watching, a romantic date-spot.
Anyone familiar with the Experimental Group (responsible for some lovely establishments including the aforementioned Experimental Cocktail Club in London, and Experimental Beach in Ibiza to name but a few..), will know that these guys are auspicious hosts indeed.
Prescription is the third outpost in the Group’s Parisian set-up, and we had a job finding this one too. Hiding in plain sight, we would have fathomed a guess that nobody was home were it not for the stern doormen. Don’t be put off by the intimidating welcome, inside await quirky chandeliers made from cascading bowler hats and delightful flamingo wallpaper.
Though the priciest of my trio, Prescription definitely comes out on top for most innovative menu (some pretty wild stuff got tossed into that shaker). Suffice it to say, we had a sublime evening perched around a candlelit vintage dressing table. I hear they also host fantastic live music nights.