Two of my many weaknesses: hot chocolate and fabulous cocktails. I will travel across Paris for them. But happily I don’t have to go that far anymore, as I’ve found my bliss closer to home on the Left Bank. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know I’ve been to almost every place in Paris known for its hot chocolate:
- Three in the Montorgueil District
- Chocolate Bar at Mauboussin
- Chocolate Boutique at the Cadran Hotel
- Hot Chocolate at the Bristol Hotel
- Le Loir dans la Théière
(and many more, just search for “hot chocolate” on this site)
But when a friend, who only arrived in Paris three months ago, told me about the sinfully decadent hot chocolate he had on the Rue St-André-des-Arts, I couldn’t imagine what he was talking about. He couldn’t recall the name, but he said they had six different flavors, and that it was perfect. I thought it might be the Patisserie Viennoise, which is near Odéon, but he insisted it was right on St-André-des-Arts.
“It better not be Starbucks you’re talking about.”
“I’ll show you.”
So on an appropriately chilly and drizzly evening last week, the tour guide becomes the guidee. I follow my friend to the Bistro St-André (36 rue St-André-des-Arts, 6th), a typical French restaurant on a street full of similar places. I never would have thought to go in, and in fact we were the only ones there most of the evening. But their hot chocolate menu was indeed impressive. My friend ordered the regular old fashioned hot chocolate with whipped cream. I got the “chocolat chaude pimentée” without whipped cream. It was thick, almost like hot pudding. The piment was sweet, and reminded me of what it tastes like if you put Red Hot candies in your hot chocolate. In fact there were little bits of something crunchy in there, so maybe that’s what they were after all. I will definitely be returning soon to try the other flavors.
After the choco bliss, I offered to show my guest a place nearby that I was sure he did not already know about…I’ll admit I needed to restore my street cred after being shown around my own town. So we go to 23 rue Mazarine, across the street from the Alcazar, where a doorman guards an anonymous facade.
“Who invited you?” asks the doorman as I attempt to walk past. “Er…no one.” Luckily I know the owners, so we’re allowed inside, where the manager Vincent shows us to a table upstairs. The Prescription Cocktail Club (23 rue Mazarine, 6th) is the newest — and largest — bar opened by Pierre-Charles, Olivier and Romée of the Experimental Cocktail Club (37 rue St Sauveur, 2nd) and the Curio Parlor (16 rue des Bernadins, 5th). Like its predecessors, the PCC is a cozy, speakeasy-style bar with both old-fashioned cocktails like the Mint Julep and creative cocktails like the Gin Gin Mule (my favorite) from Audrey Saunders’ NYC Pegu Club, all between €10-€12. They might have wine or beer on the menu, but I’ve never noticed it (nor anyone silly enough to drink them).
I love the decor, done by a young designer named Dorothée Meilichzon, with a very 1930s men’s club look. I particularly love the Magritte-esque hats used as lampshades. It has only been open for a few days, but is already packed full each night.
How to get in? Try visiting one of their other bars first and introduce yourself to the friendly crew. And try to come early on a weekday, when it’s not packed to the rafters. Unlike many trendy bars in Paris, the atmosphere in these bars is always welcoming and laid-back…once you’re past the doorman. 🙂
the hot chocolate at the Café de Flore is very good too. it comes in a pot and makes several cups, so it’s quite filling. i was also disappointed by Angelina, not only for the hot chocolate but also for the heavy cakes and cantine like hall and service