Martha Wright has spent six of the last twelve months in Paris, where she’s explored the city through the lenses of both a wine professional and sobriety coach. That’s meant homing in on best options for low-alcohol and no-alcohol venues and beverage options.
Seeking out NA beverages around the world has been a colorful mission for Wright, bringing her into contact with young and passionate entrepreneurs. “It takes me out of my routine and across town to investigate a tip about a thoughtful zero-proof drink,” she says, like the “a spooky, sexy opium-den themed basement bar” where she drank a dramatically presented NA cocktail with CBD.
“I’ve gotten into great discussions with young Parisian shopkeepers who are interested in these new NA spirits but I’ve also been laughed at and dressed down by the owner of a traditional wine shop when I inquired about NA wine!”
To supplement our companion piece about Wright’s perspective on why the alcohol free [AF] trend has taken hold in Paris, I asked for her top recommendations of places to go and drinks to try. Here are her suggestions.
Le Paon Qui Boit
Wright leads the list with Le Paon Qui Boit, which she says is France’s first dedicated AF bottle shop. It opened this spring, and she’s so excited about it that she might go directly there from the airport when she arrives in Paris next month.
Details: 61, rue de Meaux, 75019 Paris
Drinks & Co
Drinks & Co is a bottle shop/café/bar that has mostly alcoholic options but with a nice selection of three dozen or so non-alcoholic bottlings, Wright says. “They did something unique on their bar menu by committing to creating a true-equivalent NA counterpart to each of their six signature cocktails.” Sitting at the bar and chatting with the knowledgeable mixologists is a plus.
Details: 106 Bis Rue Saint-Lazare, 75008 Paris
Le Bon Marché
The gourmet food emporium at Le Bon Marché department store has an excellent NA selection, Wright said. The selection includes French Bloom, a carbonated wine beverage created by French model Constance Jablonski and American foodie entrepreneur Maggie Frerejean-Tattinger.
Details: 38 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris
Le Mary Celeste
Le Mary Celeste in the Marais was one of the original small-plates, farm-to-plate natural wine spots, and they typically have at least two NA cocktails on the menu, Wright says. Recently, they also added Athletic Brewing, the NA beer from the US.
Details: 1 Rue Commines, 75003 Paris
Le-Tout Paris in the Cheval Blanc Hotel offers a few well-made NA options and a stunning view. “In general,” Wright says, “the best bets for finding NA options are to look for restaurants from young chefs who are open to global trends, or to high-end, swanky bars and speakeasies, or to the five-star hotels which seem to have had a head start on offering elegant NA offerings.”
Wright thinks it might be because hotels like the Cheval Blanc have always understood true hospitality and how to cater to their guests, “especially when some of those guests might be walking down a fashion runway in a few hours, watching their weight or giving a press conference.”
Details: 8 Quai du Louvre, 75001 Paris
Anywhere that Carries Umà Tonic
Wright is constantly on the lookout for Umà tonic, which she says is “a truly delicious, craft tonic-water produced right in Paris that I wish more places would carry. It’s intriguing and delicious all on its own and of course a great mixer.”
The bottom line, Wright says, is that when you’re not drinking tonight for any reason, and an establishment has an appealing, adult option, you feel welcomed. “The others in your party are more relaxed knowing that everyone’s included and has what they need. And you don’t soon forget that hospitality.”