Carbon: Paris neo-bistro with a clandestine cocktail bar

Hidden beneath one of the city’s coolest new restaurants you’ll find a clandestine bar with a tight collection of cocktails curated by Sebastian Gans and Thomas Girard.

By now, all the cool kids know about Carbon, the Paris neo-bistro that’s turning out some top notch grilled and wood-fired food. The city’s tastemakers have been sliding onto the leather upholstered wooden benches to enjoy a great meal, sip on natural wines or appreciate their aperitif style cocktails designed especially for the restaurant. Here, Sebastian and Thomas use lower ABV spirits like vermouth or ports and control the levels of acidity and sweetness to ensure that the drinks work well with the dishes.

They also focus on speed and convenience for the restaurant menu with cocktails that are bottled or on tap. On a lunch visit I tried the Cynar Al Fresco made with Cynar, mezcal, grapefruit and fresh basil. The Cynar gives a pleasing backbone to the drink and combined with the grapefruit also a nice bitterness that makes it work well as an aperitif. I appreciate the nice prices on the drinks in Carbon at 9 Euros.


But, the even cooler kids also know about the speakeasy downstairs, la Mina. In this itty-bitty basement bar, candles give an intimate glow to the vaulted space.  The duo has taken a different approach to the drinks menu designing for La Mina with craft cocktails of a more technical nature and an appreciable attention to details.

The detail might be subtle like a brush stroke of squid ink in the glass for the sake and gin based Hokusai.  The ink dissolves slowly over the course of the drink, further infusing it as the time goes on. Other details are more humorous like in the Donald es un Pendejo (and I don’t think, in this instance, that they are really referring to Donald, the duck, as being a Pendejo…) It’s their version of a boiler maker and served with an Outland Brasserie beer a mezcal based shot.

They also have a menu of great small plates downstairs. On the night of our visit, it was calm right at opening and got rather packed as the night wore on. So, go early for a pre-dinner drink if you want laid back or make it a post-dinner drink if you want a livelier vibe.

The team’s creation of two distinct spaces for two different drinking agendas is impressive. Carbon has done more than just get on board with the current slate of restaurants working good cocktail programmes.  They are also making the cocktails work for the food, too.  I highly recommend a visit for both the food and the cocktails in either space.

Carbon
14 rue Charlot
75003 Paris

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Cocktail Expert Forest Collins is the creator of 52martinis, an online guide to the best cocktail bars in Paris and other small batch spirits news from France. We've also recently launched an app so you can keep all that bar info in your pocket!