For his latest book, Drinking French, the renowned pastry chef and cookbook author David Lebovitz sought sugar in other forms. Immersing himself in the drinking culture of his adopted country (it’s a living), he ventured far from Paris to discover some of the best cocktail bars and cafés in France.
For insight into France’s most fascinating liqueurs, click here.
After opening their first bar in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, the same team opened a second bar with a similarly excellent cocktail program in Marseille near Le Vieux Port. Pastis figures into a few of their cocktails, such as the Mauresco, which is made with gin, lemon, barley water, pastis, and dill. And if you’re really thirsty, you can also order pastis or Maurescos by the carafe. Great bar food, too.
Named in honor of the famous French novelist, who liked to stay at the hotel and write, this elegant salon serves tea from 2:30 to 6 p.m., then becomes a Champagne bar until 8. An excellent selection of teas are served, with great pastries by the hotel’s pâtissier, François Perret, and caviar and canapés are available when the Champagne hour starts.
Opened by an Englishman as a showcase for Château Maris organic wines, this charming café in the town of Félines-Minervois in the Occitanie region of southern France also serves crémant de Limoux, a sparkling wine that may be even older than Champagne, and other locally made quaffs like a chocolate-mint plant liqueur made by Jeff Coutelou. Don’t miss the fantastic whipped anchoiade by chef Tristam Bowden.
This bar in Dijon, the largest city in Burgundy, is well known for its inventive cocktails, very friendly bar staff and good small-bites menu, from which you can make a meal. Among the more original cocktails served here is the Monsieur Moutarde No. 5, which is made from gin, roots mastic, sirop de Bourgogne Aligoté, verjus de Bourgogne and mustard-seed tincture.
I love hard cider, which in France is primarily made in Normandy and Brittany. This apple cider bar by Breton owner Benoît Marinos on the banks of the Canal Saint Martin in the 10th arrondissement in Paris serves a great selection of the best French ciders, along with some from Belgium, England, Spain and other countries. Their ciders are served both on tap and from bottles.
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