Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris transports the City of Light back to the bohemian 1920s, full of feathers and fur. So if you, like Gil Pender, are looking for a night sparkling with wonder and sights anew, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s more to be had than a simple verre de vin rouge. Here are three entirely different ways to go drinking in Paris.
Indecisiveness at the bar just got much easier to cure. The Bacardi Mojito Lab is so dedicated to its namesake rum that it’s the only thing on offer at this neon green bar. The few drinks that stray from rum are virgin cocktails. Otherwise, the lab’s original, fruity and special mojitos are the evening’s beverage of choice, with flavors such as strawberry vanilla, passion fruit and melon set to dazzle your taste buds.
The bar also offers a novel form of entertainment for those who are looking to liven up their evening or make a birthday or girls’ night extra special: mojito-making workshops. If you’re up for measuring shots, crushing ice, muddling mint and generally improving your bartending chops, you’ll learn to make three different Bacardi cocktails—all of which can be sampled afterward, of course.
It can be difficult to keep a night out drinking in Paris on the thrifty side. Even those from other capital cities can be astounded at the price of a simple glass of wine. Part of the reason for this is a tax on wine served in glasses. But Le Refuge des Fondus has gotten around this little problem by presenting your drink not in a glass but in a large glass baby bottle, complete with teat. The only difference is a sizable hole cut in the top, to allow for easier—and faster—drinking.
Le Refuge des Fondus is a formule-only restaurant, so the wine comes coupled with either a vast steaming pot of gooey cheese fondue with chunks of fresh bread for dipping, or a pan of hot oil in which patrons can fry bite-size chunks of meat on long metal skewers.
Perhaps it’s because of the quirky way the drinks are presented, or the shared fondue: this is very much an elbows-in, friendly environment. Dinner is served at long wood tables, and customers sit side by side on adjoining wood benches. At first you might be reluctant to pick up your drink, but once you’ve seen your neighbor suckle on a baby bottle, it’s impossible to be shy. And for those who don’t drink wine, don’t think you can get off so easy. Even soft drinks arrive in this manner. A word to the wise: the baby bottles are deceptively large, and hold decidedly more than your average glass of wine.
In Japan, karaoke is considered the perfect musical addition to a night out. In Latin America, they go for a simmering night of flamenco. But in Paris it’s the accordion. And at French bistro Le Vieux Belleville, a night out eating and drinking in Paris comes with an old-fashioned singalong to traditional tunes, including “La Java Bleue” and “Bella Ciao” (the French version, of course). Unless you’re holding a knife and fork, lyric sheets will be thrust into your hands at regular intervals, and a smiling lady on the accordion will burst into song. It’s impossible not to join in.
The restaurant sits at the top of Parc de Belleville, just a minute’s walk from one of the prettiest views of Paris, and of the shimmering Eiffel Tower. It’s a small bistro, so booking, especially on weekends, is essential. The menu changes daily, but the cuisine is typically French, from steak tartare to crème brûlée.
Bacardi Mojito Lab
28, rue Keller, in the 11th Arrondissement.
Metro: Bastille (Lines 1, 5 and 8).
Le Refuge des Fondus
17, rue des Trois Frères, in the 18th.
Metro: Abbesses (Line 12).
Le Vieux Belleville
12, rue des Envierges, in the 20th.
Metro: Couronnes (Line 2).
Bacardi Mojito Lab
Le Vieux Belleville
Editor’s note: Check out our updated DIY Paris walking trips—current, easy, cheap and fabulous!
Kate Ross is a London-born freelance journalist and former resident of Jakarta who came to Paris to intern at the International Herald Tribune. She now spends her days writing gig reviews, embracing her inner bobo and blogging about it all.