Where to Drink in Paris, According to the Director of a Top-Five Bar in the World

Little Red Door is Paris’ top bar and ranks fifth in the world. Here’s where its bar director, Alex Francis, drinks on his nights off.

August 7, 2023 6:25 am
Little Red Door bar in Paris
The interior of Little Red Door in Paris.
Aron Farkas

For most travelers planning a trip to Paris, chances are bakeries and bistros come to mind before bars. But as in any major metropolitan city, Paris has no shortage of great cocktail bars that are more than worthy of a slot in your travel itinerary. No bar in Paris, however, is as internationally recognized and awarded as Little Red Door.

Opened in 2013 in Paris’s Marais district (a trendy neighborhood in the city’s fourth arrondissement), Little Red Door has been a mainstay on The World’s 50 Best Bars list for close to 10 years. Its first appearance on the venerable ranking came a mere year after opening, and instead of slowly falling down or off the list over the years, as many lauded bars have, Little Red Door has taken leaps toward the top. Currently, it holds the spot of fifth-best bar in the world, and has taken home prestigious bar industry awards, like World’s Best Cocktail Menu at 2022’s Spirited Award. Of the bar’s staying power and success, The World’s 50 Best Bars rightfully notes “that longevity isn’t down to classicism, but reinvention.”

Alex Francis of Little Red Door
Alex Francis (Courtesy Little Red Door)

One of the main players responsible for that reinvention is Little Red Door’s Bar Director, Alex Francis. An Englishman and alum of top London bars like Black Rock, Rules, and Bourne & Hollingsworth, he moved to Paris in early 2019 to join and lead the Little Red Door team. There, Alex spearheaded the bar’s transition to an innovative and painstakingly thoughtful “farm to glass” model, which, according to the bar, finds the team “sourcing products directly through an ever-growing network of producers across France, only at the height of their season, and placing the hidden heroes of the hospitality industry, the producer, at the centre of the guest experience.” This methodology, coupled with a supply chain and cocktail creation process designed to reduce waste, helped Little Red Door add The World’s 50 Best Bars’ Sustainable Bar Award to their stable of accolades in 2022.

The current menu (it changes yearly, usually in March) is called Evergreen and, according to Alex, is “aimed to be the finale in our three-year trilogy of purely Farm To Glass-focused menus, although the ethos itself won’t be changing in how we work.” Every drink on the menu was built around the product of a single produce producer, with portraits of said producers hanging on the bar’s walls. If you want to drink these drinks for yourself, you’ve got just over a half a year from now to get yourself to Paris. If that’s not an option, rest assured that with Alex and rest of the Little Red Door team working their magic, all signs point to there being no deadline to this bar’s reinvention, innovation, and world class cocktails.

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Alex Francis’ Five Favorite Bars in Paris

When Alex isn’t behind the bar at Little Red Door, or traveling around the world on behalf of the bar for purposes of guest bartending series, speaking engagements or major bar trade events, we wanted to know where he prefers to drink around town. Lucky for all of us, he obliged.


“Cravan now has two locations in Paris. The original, located in the 16th arrondissement and housed in a protected art nouveau building with a beautiful Parisian interior, is often described as French Termini for the similarity in style to London’s well-known Bar Termini. They do great classic style cocktails here, but with an unmistakable French influence. Plus, there’s Michelin star experience behind the venue so the bar snacks are expertly executed. The second and newest Cravan, which just opened at the end of June in a 17th-century building in Saint-Germain des Près, offers a much different but very impressive experience. It features three distinct cocktail bars spread across the building’s five floors with an invitation-only, outdoor pavilion on the roof.”

My order: “Tunnel or anything from the ‘Royals’ section of the menu”

The Honeymoon

“This bar is a super-interesting concept from Ben Wilson and Mike Jordhoy, of Lulu White fame, and partner Tessa Austin. Everything here is on tap, including over 20 different tap cocktails, low ABV and non-alcoholic options, and beer and wines. There’s also a pro team of Anglo Parisian hospitality stalwarts behind the bar, such as Tam Spencer Sarr and Emily Reynolds, and the service aims to create the atmosphere where everyone feels like a local. There’s room to spread out here, which is nice and makes it a good spot to come with a group of friends.”

My order: “Margarita or the Fuzzy Navel”

Sister Midnight

“Sister Midnight has had inclusivity and diversity built into its DNA since it opened. It’s a uniquely Parisian bar on the edge of Pigalle, the infamous Moulin Rouge area, with a strong history of expression and alternative culture. They host regular drag and burlesque nights, and in addition to being a notable LGBTQ+ bar, they have a great cocktail menu with several hits. All in all, it’s always a wild time.”

My order: “In Bloom or Sacred Fruits”

Abricot Bar

“Abricot Bar is a unique fusion of French and American drinking culture as it’s owned by two American women expats. The vibe here is upbeat and relaxed with decor that’s vibrant and modern with a very slight California-inspired bend. During warmer months, the space is bright and airy on account of the large glass doors that slide open to the street. It’s a nice touch. In terms of the drinks menu, it’s perfectly short and curated with a list of accessible and expressive cocktails that change seasonally. The bar food menu is also tightly curated, completely plant-based, and delicious.”

My order: “No Thoughts Just Vibes or The PB&J”

Bar Nouveau

“New this spring, Bar Nouveau is the latest art-inspired bar from top bartender Remy Savage (he’s a Little Red Door alum and co-founder of London’s A Bar With Shapes For A Name, which is one of the top 50 bars in the world). Also part of the team, here are ex-Little Red Door, Artesian, Swift and Le Syndicat powerhouses Sara and Hadrien Moudoulaud and Marc Puzzuoli. So, needless to say, the talent is really top notch. As for the bar itself, it’s a flawless ground floor space inspired by the Art Nouveau movement and offers a menu of restrained but elegant, classically-styled drinks. Downstairs, you’ll find a more modern interpretation of the Art Nouveau movement, with a creative and modern cocktail list featuring the same drinks from upstairs, but styled completely differently.”

My order: “Jasmine or Ramos Gin Fizz”


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