The Spirited Traveler: Paris

New York Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:44am EDT

People attend the White Dinner event in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris June 16, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

People attend the White Dinner event in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris June 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

New York (Reuters Life!) - The City of Light is renowned for its dining and wine culture, finely honed over centuries. Good wine can be had easily and virtually anywhere in Paris. But what about spirited tipples?

For a long time, it seemed that no one drank cocktails here. But that has slowly changed over the past few years; great cocktails are hard to find - but they can be found, if you know where to look.

Nicolas de Soto used to tend bar at L'Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC) (www.experimentalcocktailclub.com) in Paris's Second Arrondissement, one of the small but growing number of cocktail bars in Paris. Although he has since decamped to London to work with the recently-opened ECC outpost there, de Soto still knows where to go for a drink.

Of course, Harry's New York Bar (www.harrysbar.fr) remains a classic haunt for a Cognac-based Sidecar. However, the Frenchman also directs business travelers to "see-and-be-seen" spots such as the dramatic Buddha Bar (www.buddhabar.com) and Shanghai-inspired Le China (www.lechina.eu), or the oak-paneled Bar Le Forum (www.bar-le-forum.com) for after-work drinks.

At many of these spots, "it's a shame, but Mojitos and Caipirinhas are still the winners in Paris," de Soto mourns.

For a more adventurous drink at the end of the day, he recommends bars such as the ECC (mai bien sûr!) and its sister bars Curio Parlor (www.curioparlor.com), with a stock of 30 Nikka Japanese whiskies, and Prescription Cocktail Club (here).

In addition, stylish cocktail lounge La Conserverie (www.laconserveriebar.com), and Mexican-inspired canteen La Candelaria (www.candelariaparis.com) also make de Soto's shortlist.

Tequila and mezcal in Paris? I can't help but wonder what the absinthe-quaffing bohemians of turn-of-the-century Paris would make of today's young hip tipplers. RECIPE: Strawberry Alarm Clock (Courtesy of Nicolas de Soto) (One of the signature cocktails at the Experimental Cocktail Club, Paris) Conversion note for cocktailians: 1 centiliter (cl) =10 milliliter; 3 cl = 1 ounce. 5 cl Ketel One Vodka 2 cl Belvoir Summer Berry 2 cl Lemon Juice 3 strawberries Mint, plus additional mint sprig for garnish In a cocktail shaker, muddle strawberries and mint. Add liquid ingredients and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with mint sprig.

(Editing by Peter Myers and Paul Casciato)

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