Quicktake: With a truly hidden entrance, dreamy decor and CBD cocktails, Rehab is one of the best Paris speakeasies of the moment.
The Paris speakeasy landscape
US-based modern day speakeasies like Milk and Honey or P.D.T. (Please Don’t Tell) helped shape the current craft cocktail revival. Everyone loves a secret (as long as they are in on it!) And, nightcrawlers flocked to these under-the-radar addresses where mustachioed bartenders mixed prohibition era drinks with precision.
As barhoppers developed a taste for the craft cocktails with which the speakeasy style bars were associated, the template began popping up in capital cities around the world. Budding cocktillians looked for bars that replicated this romanticized version of roaring 20’s era speakeasies to quench their thirst for quality cocktails. In France, forerunners like ECC, Prescription and Curio Parlor set the pace and style for the Paris speakeasy. Some of these bars had hidden entrances and others were just very discreet.
The Parisian speakeasy has evolved since 2007 when this style of bar first hit Paris. These days, ‘speakeasy’ can mean any kind of hidden bar with a secret entrance. Mustaches, suspenders and arm garters are no longer de rigor (though still found in some places). In-the-know nightcrawlers slip through laundromat washing machines, up discrete staircases, or through unmarked doors.
For a deeper dive into the modern day Paris speakeasy, check out Oliver Gee interviewing me on the topic on his super fun podcast the Earful Tower.
Rehab Speakeasy and Hidden Cocktail Bar
One of the city’s most interesting hidden bars of the moment is Rehab. It combines all the appealing elements of the speakeasy: sexy decor, a very hidden entrance and even a whiff of something quasi-forbidden with their menu of CBD cocktails.
This is not a bar that the casual passerby will stumble into. To get there, you head to the under-construction Hotel Normandy and request that the person at the desk in the hall take you to Rehab. I’ll leave a little element of mystery surrounding the pathway to the entrance.
The hidden door opens on a small iron spiral staircase that leads to a dreamy basement Belle-Epoque boudoir style bar. An intimate little room to the side offers comfy seating and a ceiling covered in red paper lanterns. In another corner the ‘Opium bed’ is the place to get cozy with friends or canoodle with a date. Chandeliers and curtains add a theatrical element. Artfully distressed walls add a luxurious shabby-chic touch.
Rehab is the kind of place where you can enjoy an evening with a small group of friends or a quiet girls night catching up (I spent my enjoyable evening there with Heather of Secrets of Paris). It’s also a very cool address to impress a date. Finally, it’s privatisable and would make a beautiful venue to celebrate a special birthday.
CBD cocktails and more
“CBD cocktails” have been on US cocktail menus since around 2018, but Rehab is the first to bring this trend to France. Cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical found in marajuana, are the ‘active’ ingredient in these cocktails. Unlike THC, the high-inducing compound in cannabis, CBD purportedly induces relaxation and reduces anxiety without the high.
Their list of ten or so cocktails include CBD drinks with or without alcohol. Rehab generally follows the overall trend of mixing the CBD in with lower proof cocktails, the idea being you can still get a little buzz without feeling major effects the next day. And if you don’t want to dabble in CBD, you can choose from the regular cocktail menu.
The bartender incorporates the CBD either as an infusion, oil or smoke. In addition to the potential relaxation, it can add flavor and flair to the drinks. Cocktails coming in smoking glass tea pots or under smoke filled bell jars are definitely showstoppers. But even without the dramatics of smoke, the drinks presentation is impressive. My first cocktail came in a tall, chilly ceramic vase.
Service may take a little extra time as the staff explain the CBD concept to individual tables before any ordering takes place. This can feel either pretentiously annoying or considerately coddling. Since we are in a place that is designed to help you basically chill the f*$k out, I decided to take it as the latter. The staff behind the bar on the night of our visit were particularly welcoming and had lots of time to chat about both this establishment and other speakeasy type spots in Paris.
Cocktails go for around 18 – 20 euros which is a little higher than average for Paris cocktail bars but absolutely worth it given the unique concept, well made drinks, and dreamlike decor.
Closed: Sunday, Monday & Tuesday.
254 rue Saint-Honoré