Jazz and cocktails from the past: Harry’s New York Bar (Paris)

Harry's New York Bar, downstairs

There are thousands of bars in Paris.

However, there is only one bar that:

  • houses the piano bar used by George Gershwin to compose “An American in Paris.”
  • was frequented by famous patrons, including Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, the Duke of Windsor.
  • is the originator of the Bloody Mary, Sidecar, and Monkey Gland.
  • holds a straw poll that has accurately predicted the outcome of every American election (save 3) since 1924. Side note, even THEY didn’t see 2016 coming!
  • should 100% be part of your perfect day in Paris.
  • led to the loss of James Bond’s virginity (at least, according to Ian Fleming in 1960’s “From a View to a Kill”).

Boyfriend Perspective:  Ian Fleming modeled James Bond after himself, using many of his own experiences as inspiration. Being a James Bond fan, I was excited to visit a piece of history that he thought was memorable enough to include in his writing as part of James’ early life.

If all that sounds up your alley, then…

 

Head to “Sank Roo Doe Noo”

Harry’s is a little bit of something special, even in a city full of special things.

Its classic neon sign beckons you from a distance. We walked into a cluttered, equally classic barroom filled the pictures, tchotchkes, typical wooden tables and chairs, and warm light. The hostess asked if we’d prefer to be upstairs (where we had walked in) or down, and we both chose down. Down a narrow staircase, and it was like we’d shot straight back to the 1930s.

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Packed with red velvet-covered seats and glossy, dark-stained tables, you can find couples canoodling in booths and friends chatting over cocktails. The light is low and the sounds of the live jazz duo in the corner trade off with clicks and clanks from the bar. Black and white pictures of famous patrons line the walls.

We sat right near the front of the room, just across from the jazz. Despite being tired, we both ordered one of Harry’s classic cocktails and settled in to decompress on our last night in Paris.

The music ran the gamut from vintage to modern, covers of all kinds of tunes. And even though most folks weren’t actively listening – until there was a particularly impressive drum solo, that is – the guys looked like they were loving every second of their set.

Then, they played a particularly fantastic cover of “Let’s Do It” by Cole Porter – ladies and gentlemen, this is where you can come to have your perfect vintage night in Paris.

Boyfriend Perspective: And booze. The drinks are expensive, but great. And the setting is pretty damn cool.

This felt for us like a once in a lifetime experience – and we were so sad to have to leave.

This one’s definitely on our list for a second look on our next trip!



Also published on Medium.

28 Replies to “Jazz and cocktails from the past: Harry’s New York Bar (Paris)”

  1. Such a beautiful looking bar, with so much history too! Totally adding this to my list of things to do in Paris… It never ends does it?

    PS I LOVE the “boyfriend perspective” such a cute way to show your personalities!

    1. No, the list never ends 🙂 And thank you so much! We decided to do it that way because whenever we tell friends our travel stories, I’m always the one who makes things sound magical and perfect… and Luke affectionately rolls his eyes and gives the practical viewpoint. I’m so glad to hear it translates well 🙂

  2. Perfect bars for a vintage night out. The wood paneling and red seating add to the charm, oozing 1930’s era. Great facts about Harry’s Bar, I don’t think anyone would have guessed the results of the American 2016 election.

    1. It truly is the perfect vintage bar 🙂 and I say that as an Art Deco nerd!! (And no kidding about the election. Only a time traveler could’ve called that one.)

  3. I was sold to Harry’s Bar right from the beginning! Inventor of Bloody Mary, Sidecar, and Monkey Gland – wow that’s really something! Plus the James Bond connection 🙂

    I am certainly going there next time I am in Paris! 🙂

    1. RIGHT?! The 007 connection got Luke right off the bat – I was more concerned with live jazz and vintage cocktails. It’s amazing to find a place that answers both interests!! 🙂 Let us know what you think when you go – hopefully you love it as much as we did!

  4. I do love the ambiance of the place. A place to end the day with a couple of beers.

    1. Definitely 🙂

  5. It sounds like you had a lovely time. What a nice sounding place. I will have to look it up if I am in the area.

    1. We truly did! I could have gushed far more about it, but tried to keep it under control 🙂 Let us know what you think if you go!

  6. OMG! I wish I would have known about this place when I visited Paris. It seems so cool and chic. I definitely get a “Great Gatsby” vibe. I will definitely put it on my list for my next visit to Paris.

    1. 100% a Gatsby kind of place. I’m now wishing a waiter would’ve called Luke “old sport” at some point during the evening 😉 I hope you make it there next time. If you’re any kind of vintage lover, you won’t be disappointed!

  7. I would totally visit this bar to see the piano Gershwin used if for no other reason. I really love the musical An American in Paris…and that would be incredible.

    1. As a fellow An American in Paris fan… that was one of the big draws for me, honestly. Just being in the same spot where so much of that music was composed is a really cool feeling. Great to meet another fan! 😀

  8. Such fabulous atmosphere! There is something special about places with a history and this one is no different. I have a tendency to imagine myself going in time mentally and would certainly love to visit this bar. What a great find!

    1. It definitely feels like you’ve gone back in time… there’s not a ton for the imagination to do 🙂

  9. I love New York Bars and having it in a bar’s name is a deal maker for me! And this one looks beautiful and there’s so much history too! Adding this to my to-do list in Paris.

    1. I hope you’ll let us know what you think when you go! We both adored the ambiance and the history – would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

  10. That is a beautiful bar, with much of history. We are adding it to our list and would love to visit once visiting Paris. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It’s definitely worth a stop! The history and the ambiance are a priceless addition to your trip. Let us know how you like it! 🙂

  11. wow! this bar looks amazing, btw thanks for this article 🙂
    want to know about this bar

    1. Of course! We were so excited, we had to share 🙂

  12. I don’t usually frequent bars because I don’t drink alcoholic drinks, but the history behind this bar is fascinating. I do love its rich classy and vintage decor. And knowing it might have influenced George Gershwin to compose “An American in Paris” is pretty cool, too.

    1. This was literally the only bar we visited in Paris, simply because it was too cool to pass up. Because it was late and we were on a mission, I didn’t get a chance to scope out their non-alcoholic offerings, but I can tell you that I would’ve been just as happy (and probably less sleepy) if I had been drinking water, instead 🙂

  13. Harrys is indeed something special, in fact I would say unique.I mean what can one say about a place with so many unique attributes and rich history. A place frequented by the likes of Hemingway, a place that gave birth to the Bloody Mary and finally and more importantly, the James Bond connection. Definitely a place not to miss in Paris.

    1. 100% agreed!!! It’s very unique and I don’t think we’ll ever visit Paris without also dropping in here again 🙂

  14. Love the interior of the bar, such cool ambiance to relax and enjoy your drink.

    1. Definitely!! One of the best bars we’ve ever been to, honestly.

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