Two Ways to Enjoy Cocktails at Paris’ Historic Hotel Lutetia

Last time I wrote about drinking at Hotel Lutetia, it was for cocktails at their beautiful Bar Josephine not long after the extensive remodel. At the time, there was a martini-o’clock menu and demijohns of negronis, and maybe still a few teething pains with the reopening. Now a few years have gone by and there’s been some staff changes, so it’s time to get back in to review the latest menu at Bar Josephine and discover their more hidden speakeasy style lounge Aristide.

The current menu at Bar Josephine is inspired by the hotel’s connection with graphic arts

New Cocktail Menu at Hotel Lutetia Bar Josephine

The Bar Josephine is big and bold and beautiful with a current cocktail menu from head bartender Angelo Forte and the rest of the team inspired by comics. The menu features 8 cocktails at 28 Euros each and two non-alcoholic options at 21 Euros, all of which mirror the colors of the associated comic strip for each drink. The menu is illustrated by Lucas Harari, Parisian comic strip author, with three books under his name: L’Aimant, La Dernière rose de l’été, and Le cas David Zimmerman. This “Ninth art” theme is not just lighthearted and energetic, but it’s a nod to the immense frescoes in the bar and a link to the hotel’s long standing connection with graphic arts. 

The Bang Bang is a dry gin martini dialled up with dill and other fun stuff

Many of the drinks skew sweeter, which isn’t unusual for a high-end hotel that caters to a wide range of guest preferences. Clearly work has gone on behind the scenes to incorporate interesting ingredients like teas, verjus, chipotle, and seaweed in coherent manners. Those who want something drier should go straight for the Bang Bang, a gin martini with an addition of dill, oyster leaf, and black sesame oil that notches up the interest level without overwhelming the integrity of the underlying classic. And, of course, as is to be expected at a hotel of this caliber, they turn out classic cocktails on request. All the drinks are delivered with an elegantly understated presentation in well selected glassware. 

The glassware is perfectly chosen for each cocktail

Though the menu has been updated, the musical programming remains and most definitely adds value to a stop here. Every day from 19h to 22h, live music fills the bar for a bit of highbrow entertainment to go with your drinks and snacks.

The vibe is very speakeasy, gentlemen club at Bar Aristide

Hotel Lutetia’s Speakeasy Style Lounge: Bar Aristide

For a more intimate experience, make your way through the hotel to the hidden, speakeasy-style Bar Aristide. This cozy lounge, inspired by the historical jazz of Saint-Germain, continues a musical tradition with ambient tunes and occasional DJ sets. The bar is named after Aristide Boucicaut, the left bank Bon Marché founder who opened the Lutetia Hotel in 1910.

The Old Fashioned goes down easy at Bar Aristide

Bar Aristide is not just different from Bar Josephine in terms of ambience, but also drinks. It’s a smart move for hotels to differentiate spaces and manage expectations in each. At Bar Aristide, the drinks selection is inspired by notable albums, with a cool selection from some of my younger days 80’s favs like Shriekback’s Oil and Gold or Modern English’s After the Snow. They also have a playlist that you can access from the QR code on the menu that’s different but also enjoyable background music. The drinks lean more to the classic and classic adjacent. However, the menu sticks with the same style of the Hotel Lutetia’s bars overall with a small selection of signatures and a couple of non-alcoholic cocktails. The Hemingway daiquiri is refreshing and the Old Fashioned is familiar enough to envelope you in warmth as you sink into the dim atmosphere of this gentlemen’s club reimagined for a modern day clientele. 

I like the idea of pani puri as a bar snack and wonder if we will start seeing more of it around town

Bar Aristide is small with romantic lighting, cozy armchairs, inviting chesterfields, and an adult vibe, making it kind of perfect for a romantic post-dinner drink. But don’t take your date there in the summer, as they close for the season until September (reopening in 2024 on 19 September). 

Both bars at Hotel Lutetia offer a blend of historic charm and modern creativity. They also share a snack menu, with a range of options from an aged cheese platter to high end caviar with mini burgers or tacos and guac in between. It’s a lot of options, but what caught my eye is the pani puri, which is a fun and different bar snack – although it’s an Indian street food I hear is gaining traction in Paris so we may be seeing more of it. Until then, stop into the bars at Hotel Lutetia to get a taste of it along with a cocktail and some musical entertainment. 

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