One of my favourite districts in Paris is around Rue Montorgueil. Tucked behind the bustle of Les Halles the pedestrianised Rue Montorgueil keeps that village-like feel and also a sense of history with its wrought-iron facades, painted shops and tiled decorative motifs above street level. Home to excellent food markets as well as historic patissier La Maison Stohrer, Rue Montorgueil also packs in bars, bistros and restaurants, providing ample diversions from the serious business of shopping and socialising.
As if the diversions of Rue Montorgueil weren’t enough, venture a little further and a real gem awaits discovery. Tucked away in cobbled Rue Saint-Saveur just off Rue Montorgueil is a small cocktail bar, so unobtrusive that you could easily walk straight past it. It could almost be the front of someone’s house, but look closely and a small brass plate gives away its identity: The Experimental Cocktail Club. Its humble exterior belies its status as a lauded cocktail bar, voted 13th best bar in the world by those who should know: the good people at Bartender Magazine.
Inside, this small speakeasy bar is cosy and intimate. Brick walls, wooden beams, low lighting and squishy comfortable leather sofas lend intimacy – oh and let’s not forget the bar! Zinc-topped and occupying most of one wall, the bar is backed by row after row of everything needed for the mixologists to shake up an Old Fashioned, a rather special Gin & Tonic, or (my choice) their signature cocktail called Experimental no. 1: a divine mix of vodka, lemon juice, elderflower cordial, lemongrass and fresh basil. The cocktail menu offers around a dozen suggestions, but tell them your preferences and they’ll mix one for you.
Hunker down by the piano, perch on top of a bar stool or grab one of those comfy sofas before the crowd arrives (as they most assuredly will). Soak up the vibe, the friendly service and savour those cocktails!
The Experimental Cocktail Club 37 rue Saint-Saveur, 2nd arrt. Métro: Etienne Marcel.
Open: 6pm-2am Mon to Wed, 6pm-3am Thurs 6pm-4am Fri & Sat
© Barbara Hopkins