Doni Belau’s Picks for Paris’ Three Most Outrageous Cocktails

by Doni Belau
Morning My Love, Bespoke

In a typically French response to the Paris attacks, last week bistrot and bar owners began a rallying cry that ended up as a hashtag, as many things do these days. Simply put, they demanded us to #TousauBistrot! Meaning, get yourself to a bar, bistrot, restaurant, or café ASAP, show that we will continue to live our lives outdoors and in cafés as we’ve always done. The hashtag #JeSuisenTerrasse then followed.

I believe this kind of bravado or courage is what we all need right now. We must continue to travel, book Paris hotel rooms or rent those lovely Paris apartments, and continue to laugh and enjoy our lives. French business owners are telling us that it’s our civic duty as Parisians and Francophiles alike to get out and shop, eat and drink, and practice the French art de vivre, or art of living.

HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. Fig garnishes at Bespoke. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.

On the drinking front, I have quite a lot to say. After sampling a whopping 55 Parisian bars in just six weeks this past winter in Paris – the “painstaking” research I had to do for my book, Paris Cocktails – I spied a handful of drinks that made my jaw drop. New and talented mixologists in our age of craft cocktails have gone far beyond stirring bottled grapefruit juice into a glass of vodka as I used to do back way back when. They are bending over backwards to entice us; they might garnish a drink using a tiny wooden clothespin or set flame to evergreen needles or passion fruit, for example. There is seemingly no end to what you can witness on a serious bar-crawl in Paris. These are a just a few of the dramatic drinkables that stood out after nearly 150 cocktails sampled.

HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. Calm ambiance at Bespoke. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.

The Spectacle: Watching the bartender create a flaming cocktail with fresh passion fruit at the Bespoke bar on rue Oberkampf gave me a little rush. I saw many bars setting flame to the cocktail or the garnish in my travels, but I paid special notice here because I adore passion fruit, this particular cocktail was entitled Morning My Love, and Nico and Melissa, Bespoke’s owners, are so adorable. In fact, I enjoyed my experience at this cocktail bar and resto so much that we had our Paris Cocktails Paris book event there in early November.

HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. Shaken, not stirred, at Bespoke. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.

HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. Finishing touches on a cocktail at Bespoke. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.
Morning My Love, Bespoke

The Silly: Two grown men sharing a very large, kitschy cocktail complete with flaming volcano crater and long glow-in-the-dark straws at Dirty Dick made me smile. Sharing a tiki drink kind of made these adults look childish, I briefly thought, and then I reminded myself not to bring my jaded NYC viewpoint to this otherwise appealing bar scene. The poly-pop fun that is Dirty Dick (yes that’s the real name, and yes it was called that when owner Scott purchased the spot) is just one of a number of good craft cocktail bars on the rue Frochot in So-Pi (south of Pigalle metro). DD should be saved for the end of the night or when you are in need of “lightening up,” as it’s pure throw-back fun from the days of pu pu platters. I recall getting tipsy for the first time from something similar at Trader Vic’s in New York’s Plaza Hotel – so hey, why can’t these dudes have a little unabashed fun; who am I to judge?

HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. Sparks fly even behind the bar at Dirty Dick. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.
HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. Street view of Dirty Dick, 10 rue Frochot. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.
Flaming Volcano Cocktail, Dirty Dick

The Erudite: The most complex, grand production of a cocktail in my trek was definitely L’Education Sentimental, which was named after Flaubert’s 19th century novel of the same name. Flaubert, I was told by Jerome, owner of Shake n’ Smash, was born and raised in Normandy, so all of the products in this drink hail from the northwest. I recently recreated one of these beauties from the recipe that Jerome kindly shared with me for my book; I whipped up a special-yet-simple walnut honey concoction, then added a nice Calvados as well as an alcoholic Norman cider. It was the perfect autumn cocktail. What I didn’t do was to put it in a cognac glass lying tilted over a bowl of crushed ice with dried apples arranged in a flared fashion as they do at Shake n’ Smash. To top it all off, when you sample this fall-forward cocktail at the bar in Paris, Jerome tears off a page from the novel, burns the edges and serves the entire assemblage on top of the page, using it as a coaster. Voilà. Now that kind of delicious literary outrageousness is bold and French and perfect for this very moment in time.
HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. Awning of Shake n' Smash. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.

HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. Street view of Shake n' Smash, 87 rue de Turbigo. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.

Shake ‘n Smash

Honorable mention: A be-flowered cocktail made by Kahled at Andy Wahloo served with a side of dry ice… just because.

Bespoke – 3 rue Oberkampf, 75011. Open Tues-Sun 12pm-2am. Métro: Filles du Calvaire & Oberkampf.

Dirty Dick – 10 rue Frochot, 75009. Open daily 6pm-2am. Métro: Pigalle.

Shake n’ Smash – 87 rue de Turbigo, 75003. Open daily 6pm-1am; food served until 11:30pm. Métro: Temple & Republique.

Andy Wahloo – 69 rue des Gravilliers, 75003. Open Tues -Sat 7pm-1:45am. Métro: Arts et Métiers.

Shake and Smash HiP Paris Blog. Paris best outrageous cocktails from Doni of Girls Guide to Paris

HiP Paris blog. The 3 most outrageous cocktails in Paris. L'Education Sentimental at Shake n' Smash is like fall in a glass. Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger.
L’Education Sentimental, Shake ‘n Smash

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Written by Doni Belau for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Jean-Marie Heidinger. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Bespoke HiP Paris Blog

Written By

Doni Belau

Doni Belau is the founder and creator of Girls’ Guide to Paris, a website and online guide to Paris. This September her new book, Paris Cocktails, was published by Cider Mill Press. Join Doni on Dec. 2nd at New York's Le District for a book signing, cocktail tasting, and holiday party planning event or in Chicago at Debi Lily’s Parisian Loft on Dec. 9th. Tickets required. View Doni Belau's Website
Photos By

Jean-Marie Heidinger

Breton and prone to seasickness, I enjoy finding myself in improbable situations that lead to random encounters. I'm fascinated by the marine environment and our relationship with the sea, but I'm constantly on the look out for new subjects to explore. I studied art history at Rennes II. I currently live in Paris, but I often find myself in Lorient, on Brittany's southern coast. Reportage and portraits are my preferred photographic formats. View Jean-Marie Heidinger's Website

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One comment on “Doni Belau’s Picks for Paris’ Three Most Outrageous Cocktails

Beautiful photos, you give a good light to each of the bars.
I miss Paris so much, I was there last year for work, and I want to go back so badly. It’s nice to hear the the Parisians are working hard to return to daily life, it’s important to show solidarity.

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