It's an ambitious itinerary, but we believe in you.
In Paris, there's so much great food to eat that it's almost possible to forget about the drinks. After a week eating my way through Paris, I was so stuffed with Au Passage’s chocolate blood ice cream and Verjus’ succulent pigeon, I realized that if I were actually going to try all the great beverages I had on my list, I was going to have to make a concerted effort. To accomplish my goals, I’d have to go on liquid diet. (Diet is a strong word; even with all the traversing from one end of the city for hot chocolate to another for beer, I had a net positive calorie intake.) I spent an entire day in Paris, where beverages were king and food all but forgotten. (I did have some cheese.)
Here, a daylong guide to drinking your way through Paris—with nonalcoholic pit-stops along the way. I raise a glass, a mug and a beer bottle to any soul ambitious enough to duplicate my all-day-all-drinks Paris experience.
The Perfect Cappuccino: Café Loustic
Paris is finally figuring out coffee, and my favorite place to drink it is this adorable spot in a narrow Marais alley, where friendly British owner Channa Galhenage makes a perfect cappuccino. Its milk components were graceful, its coffee components strong as a bull, yet it made all transitions with the utmost dignity. Most important, unlike the historically bad Parisian coffee that leaves one anxious but groggy, Galhenage’s creation left me feeling—as great coffee should—revived and relaxed. 40 Rue Chapon, 75003. www.cafeloustic.com
Paris by Mouth's French Cheese and Wine Workshop
The rather brilliant, wholly unintimidating (former Kansan!) instructor Meg Zimbeck pairs chèvres, hard cheeses, washed rind stinkers and blues with interesting French wines. With a technically proficient but lively dissection of the flavors, she provides tools for students to do the same. Post-class, I correctly reasoned that an orange wine procured from Mas Zenitude in the Languedoc needed a sturdy Roquefort and drank to becoming a lifetime food hero for a mere 95 Euros. parisbymouth.com
Hot Chocolate at Jacques Genin
White walls, high ceilings and a chilly elegance give one the odd feeling of being in a posh skincare clinic rather than a Marais chocolatier-slash-café. When my hot chocolate arrived in its plain white pot with its plain white cup, the decor made more sense. The drink itself—almost overpoweringly delicious, a warm milkshake that just happens to be made with a ridiculous amount of world’s finest chocolate—is so hyper-cozy that the space can contain nothing else. 133 Rue de Turenne, 75003. www.jacquesgenin.fr
Beer at Deck and Donohue
On a rainy Saturday inside this small industrial space in the inner suburb of Montreuil-sous-Bois, people juggled slickers and paper tasting cups. French, English and German mingled in the yeasty air. French co-owner Thomas Deck, who quit his job in 2013 to make beer with his American buddy Mike Donohue, pointed out that the malty Indigo IPA I was gulping (and not really tasting, because it was so good) wasn’t as packed with alcohol as its American cousins. “We’re focused on creating a balanced, slightly drier product that we wouldn't mind drinking time and again.” I celebrated this laudable mission statement with another bottle. 71 Rue de la Fraternité, 93100, Montreuil, France. deck-donohue.com
Ginger Beer at My South Africa
Still in Montreuil-sous-Bois, I ducked into this friendly place crowded with people and well-curated bookshelves, seeking herbal tea. An iced, golden green drink gracing many tables distracted me. “Our house-brewed ginger beer,” the waitress said, and boy, was it delicious, refreshing but sharply gingery and more kombucha-sour than soda-sweet. After a day of chocolate, wine and beer, it was also exactly what the doctor ordered. 22 Rue Robespierre, 93100 Montreuil, mysouthafrica.fr
Cocktails at Gravity Bar
Just because you’ve been drinking all day doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about cocktail hour, especially in this gorgeous, high-ceilinged, super-fancy drinks bar in the aggressively cocktaily neighborhood near the Canal St. Martin. I have to admit, my favorite mixer is a glass. I even find Manhattans a touch baroque. But Gravity Bar’s Corleone Manhattan, with the coffee kick of Liqueur Galliano Ristretto and anise snap of Absinthe Bourgeois, truly improved on the classic. These concoctions take time—forget grabbing a quick one—but the results, even for a cocktail skeptic, are worth it. 44 Rue De Vinaigriers.