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  • Culture  /  Food & Fun

    Paris’ growing hidden bar scene

    By Divya Bala 10 October 2017

    And the secret handshakes for the best of them

    Although Paris didn’t experience a Prohibition era as per the United States in the 1920s, the appeal of the Speakeasy speaks to values any self-respecting Parisian holds dear: discretion, panache and a little savoir-faire. In recent years, Paris’ hidden bar and Speakeasy scene grown, with institutions such as Candeleria, Experimental Cocktail Club and Moonshiner giving way to a fresh new crop of hush-hush watering holes. Here, we pick our favourites and how to find them.

     

    Blaine
    65 Rue Pierre Charron
    8th arrondissement

    Preparation to enter Blaine begins before you’ve even left home. First, DM the bar’s Facebook page to get the code for the evening. Then, just a few steps from the bustle of the Champs-Elysees, look for a well-dressed man in front of a black door, reading the paper. If you’re granted entry, you’ll soon enter a dim – though noisy, when in full swing – den decked out in 1920s Prohibition-Era-style replete with rugs and dark leather couches. Try the Mungunghwa, a concoction of Patron silver infused with hibiscus, agave sirop and blueberries.

     

    Le Lavomatic
    30 Rue Rene Boulanger
    10th arrondissement

    Opened late last year, the Lavomatic Speakeasy is exactly what you might expect – a bar in a Paris laundrette. Hidden behind a washing machine door, a narrow staircase leads up to a tiny bar space decked out in retro 70s art, wallpaper and patterned carpets complete with a swing set. Try the Welcome To Agrabah, a mix of lemon juice, jasmin tea, honey, egg white, vodka, lemonade and a spritz of rose water or one of the many organic, biodynamic wines.

     

    Gentleman 1919
    11 Rue Jean Mermoz
    8th arrondissement

    Don’t let the name fool you, this gentleman’s bar doesn’t discriminate on race. A hybrid of a barbershop/cigar lounge/bar (yes, you can get your hair or beard trimmed while you have a cocktail) Gentleman 1919 reveals itself through a small hidden door in the upscale hair salon part of the building. Providing an intimate atmosphere in which to sample from a library of Cuban cigars, over 50 different whiskeys and a well-curated cocktail menu, it’s the perfect spot for a small group of friends at the end of the night.

     

    La Chambre Noire
    82 Rue de la Folie Mericourt
    11th arrondissement

    Comfortable, non-pretentious with rustic interiors, La Chambre Noire (the black room) is a cosy little spot in one of Paris’ most rapidly up-and-coming areas. The cocktails are wonderful, the wine selection natural, served up by very warm staff but the must-try here is the food. Start with the charcuterie plates and try the ramen, which is basically the best roast you’ve had in noodle soup form in a rich, hot broth.

     

    No Entry (speakeasy de Pink Mamma)
    20bis Rue de Douai
    9th arrondissement

    Paris’ Big Mamma group is currently owning the restaurant game with several laid-back, trattoria-style Italian spots across the city that swing from rooftop bar to bustling restaurant. No Entry, in the former camp, is a hidden Speakeasy in the group’s Pink Mamma establishment. Try the house Vermouth distilled with oysters, the Chianti with yuzu lemon and pomegranate or the Gin with basil.