Home to a battery of bars, street food, theaters, and bobo haunts, the flourishing 10th arrondissement of Paris is brimming with places. So much so, that its consistency could be its own downfall. Steps east and west of Chateau D’eau, citizens flood from the subway stop and pack nearby haunts. You’ll pass black trench coats, drug dealing, Doc Marten’s, Indian food, large hats, homelessness, handsome dogs, and litter. Oh, joie.
Copper Bay, however, is an outpost.
On a small, unassuming street, lies this superb cocktail lounge that makes everything look easy. Ambiance. Crowd. Modesty. Soul, check. Theme*? I think so, but it doesn’t need one. Cocktails? Yes, and they make them very, very well.
The bar front doesn’t announce itself with spangled lights or a flappy sign, but rather 1 or 2 Parisiennes out front, speaking in a hushed, sophisticated tone over cigarettes.
Dark blue and orange tones light a spacious room. It’s filled with well-dressed people who don’t intrude on your agenda with theirs, but rather, set a convivial backdrop to a fantastic stop in your night.
Cocktail bars of this caliber, succumb to their ego–I’ve had unpleasant experiences at many of the renowned bars in the LES, E. Village, and even (gasp) Pigalle.
CopperBay is modest.
The bar’s remote location and its authenticity to the owner, I believe, create this modesty.
Aurelie Panhelleux is busy; it’s Friday 00h30, but she still stops to chat with us a bit about their seasonal menus. She’s earnest in tone and speaks in English, even if I could have gotten the gist in French. (Ahem, maybe)
The menu rotates based on weather rather than date. She said to expect warm, lush ingredients for their upcoming release.
Several patrons enter and give daps, or coddle the bar as if they’re waiting for the bartenders to end their shift. It hits me. They all know each other. As a bar featured on World Best Bars, I assumed differently. Copper Bay should be a destination bar, but by definition, it’s actually a dive bar.
Within the larger sphere of the 10th quarter’s nightlife, this bar carves a distinct sphere for itself. Copper Bay and it’s patrons consider something other than wine, food, or partying as the main attraction. A new dynamic is added.
The Parisienne scene is more mature and expansive than it was at first glance. Copper Bay isn’t a kitschy tiki bar or a faux speakeasy, like so many other a la mode cocktail bars, rather it’s an authentic refuge that’s amassed a loyal following and cultivated a scene of its own.
The bar transcends the realms of a neighborhood staple and a cocktail bar on the world’s stage. This could have only happened now, in our era. Social Media allows us to probe into other spheres of life, to discover what we wouldn’t have known in past lives.
Still, Paris is off the grid to Anglosaxons. Sifting through trashy tourist reviews and a wine-based palate of the French is like searching two different worlds. There are two Paris’s, one that’s wholly French and one that is a bit like a theme park. Copper Bay angles its way into an invisible space, creating something world-class yet not world renowned.
Sure, it’s documented. But only people who have both researched cocktails, and who are informed about Paris are who will find this establishment.
Aurelie hands us a menu. Thick like a textbook, each cocktail has its own page, a description and a colorful pie graph illustrating each ingredient’s dose.
-Clear my Colada: a modern revisit to the Pina Colada is built with an aged Pineapple rum, emulsified banana, fig and Verjus for a tart finish.
-Mr. Seguin: creamy, purple and savory, the drink is composed of beet juice, chive vodka, and feta cream.
Both drinks swim smooth and host edible garnishes with them.
In Paris, I’ve experienced many false friends in the form of sugary, light cocktails. There are a time and place for that, but with the sun sliding further on the horizon each day, with winter coming, one needs to feel belonging, one needs a cozy den to settle in and I wouldn’t have settled anywhere else.
* Copper Bay is nautical themed.
ps. Copper Bay is currently having a soft opening in Marseille! Congrats!
Copper Bay IG: @copperbay_paris
My IG: @african.bowtie