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The iconic Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel has been on my bucket list for a while. I want to perch on a bar stool or relax in a tufted leather armchair exactly where Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald conversed and soak up their literary brilliance.
Perhaps it is Hemingway’s infamous words “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.” from his iconic book about Paris that is calling me to the Hemingway Bar.
On a chilly November night, while standing in the elegant Place Vendôme admiring the glittering Christmas lights, my Swiss friend and I decided to experience first-hand the Hemingway Bar.
We walk through the Ritz hallways leading to the far side of the hotel under suspended golden stars feeling a luxuriant and warm vibe.
As we wander the corridors peeking into magnificent rooms and admiring the showcases with Ritz items for sale, my mind flits back to the book I read last winter, The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris. I imagine the notorious German figures of Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels, who had official living quarters in the hotel during the Nazi occupation of Paris, marching down this very hallway.
I think of Hemingway arriving in front of the hotel, gun in hand, to free the Ritz from the Germans. When informed that the Germans had long gone, and he was unable to enter the hotel with firearms, Hemingway put the gun down and walked through the hotel to the little bar at the back where he proceeded to drink 51 martinis! At least, that’s how the story goes.
When Elsbeth and I are finally ushered into the tiny Hemingway Bar my jaw drops. Packed with Hemingway memorabilia, my eyes scan the small room. Photos line the walls, each one telling a story worth knowing. The Hemingway Bar immediately feels legendary.
We are tucked into a corner of the Hemingway Bar rubbing elbows with his infamous typewriter and welcomed by the famous bartender Colin Field who, with his warm regard, offers the assurance that he will mix us the perfect cocktail.
The Hemingway Bar: The Star
With the Hemingway Star, the drink menu, in hand, the fun begins. Each cocktail is a story unto itself, recounted in a newspaper-style menu amidst photos of Hemingway. One could spend a few hours just perusing the Hemingway Bar drink menu and dreaming of which drinks to enjoy.
Certain drinks are alluring. The traveller in me wants to try “The Last Train to Shanghai” an Orient-Express style cocktail made with gin and Bual/Madera and a drop of secret exotic burned orange bitters.
Or possibly I should dive into the martini world with “The Clean Dirty Martini,” apparently the best Martini in the world with its taste of olives and a frozen cube of olive juice.
Cocktails At The Hemingway Bar In Paris
I’ve become a bit of a champagne lover living in Paris. Apparently so was Hemingway who once said, “If I have any money, I can’t think of any better way of spending it than on Champagne.” I concur. The Champagne bottles range from €150 – €1200 at the Hemingway Bar in Paris so this time, I opt for a cocktail.
What I didn’t see at the time (there is a lot to digest on the menu) was that there are five different Champagne Cocktails. I’m coming back for the “Miss Bond,” a champagne cocktail with the essence of raspberry, reminiscent of a kir.
Elsbeth decides on “The Serendipity Cocktail,” a Hemingway Bar house cocktail since 1994. This delight is made with Calvados from Normandy, fresh mint, apple juice from Normandy and Champagne.
I order the Margarita. I’ve never been asked for my preference for the salted rim. I go with the suggestion of French lemon salt. It’s the most delicious Margarita I have ever tasted and I’ve had plenty!
The old-world charm in the Hemingway Bar invites you to sit back, relax, and stay a couple of hours. The elegant drinks arrive, a pink rose in full bloom adorning each glass. Our smiles are wide. We dive into deep conversation sipping our deluxe cocktails and nibbling on the ever-replenished bar snacks.
Head on over to The Hemingway Bar where the drinks will take a little bite out of your budget at €34 each. You’ll walk away with a smile and a story to tell about your first apéro at the Hemingway Bar in Paris.
The Hemingway Bar Details
Hours: Open Tuesday- Saturday 6 pm – 2 am. No reservations. 25 seats.
Location: Place Vendôme. Closest Métro Stations: Opéra, Tuileries, Madeleine, Havre-Caumartin
Are You An Ernest Hemingway Fan?
Where do you fall on the Hemingway fan wagon?
Here are a few suggestions for your reading pleasure. The Pulitzer prize winner, The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom The Bell Tolls.
A Day At The Ritz: A Cooking Class And The Hemingway Bar
Why not spend a day at the Ritz Hotel? I took a cooking class at the Escoffier Ritz Cooking School which was amazing. Read about my full cooking class experience.
Spend the morning cooking, have tea in the Salon Proust in the afternoon and then head on over for opening time at the Hemingway Bar! What a deluxe Paris day!
I hope you enjoy your cocktail(s) at the Hemingway Bar as much as I did.
Until next time,
My Next Adventure at the Ritz Hotel: I’m spending a day at the Ritz Escoffier School in January. Received as a lovely and generous birthday gift, I am excited to improve my cooking skills!
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Gastronomy in Paris:
If you are looking for food suggestions, read about where to find the best croissants in Paris. And, if you have a sweet tooth like me, check out these best pâtisseries to try. There are also plenty of café suggestions for the Marais area in this post: Tips from a Local. And if you are exploring the area around Canal Saint-Martin, here are the best places to stop for a bite or to find the fixings for a picnic.
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If you are going further afield in France, make sure to check out my page on France.