From Sidewalk Cafés to Fortune Tellers, French Cocktail Culture Has Arrived in L.A.

We Angelenos like to believe we’re the epitome of casual cool, but let’s face it, Parisians have us beat. Take the way they enjoy cocktail hour, posting up in a relaxed bar or on a sidewalk café with just the right drink. Herbal Cynar, fruity Aperol, licorice-y pastis and glowing green abinthe are just some of the aperitifs to enjoy with soda or in a refreshing cocktail. Consider it all part of your research for the good life.

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barbette pink champagne cocktail


WeHo’s brand-new French spot feels like it’s been there forever, thanks to decor like marble countertops and brass railings as well as a cocktail menu that’s long on Champagne, aperitifs and absinthe. Order a Champagne cocktail or a Death in the Afternoon, the Champagne-and-absinthe concoction claimed to have been invented by Ernest Hemingway.

7511 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 323-850-8888 or

norah sidewalk cafe chairs


That sidewalk café vibe? It’s alive and well in WeHo at Norah, a breezy space that opens onto Santa Monica Boulevard, perfect for people watching while noshing on a small bowl of spiced olives. Want even more of that French feeling? Order one of the pastis flights at the new side bar called La Fête that’s opened in an adjoining space. Either way, the sexy vibe and upscale drinks are ooh la la.

8279 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 323-450-4211 or

employees only cocktail orange green
Employees Only/ Facebook

Employees Only

This new West Coast iteration of the fabled NYC craft cocktail pioneer has all kinds of Euro airs, such as a hidden back room called Henry’s Room, where the shiny wall of liquor evokes a brasserie. Sidle back there, pausing to get your fortune told by the palm reader at the door, and order the sweetly relaxing Pêche Bourbon, with peach-infused smooth bourbon stirred with crème de pêche, sugars and Peychaud’s bitters. Or be daring and ask for the bartender’s choice, which involves a spin of a dial that selects different spirits and flavor profiles that the bartender uses to customize your drink.

7953 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 323-536-9045 or

mama shelter restaurant colorful palm trees
Mama Shelter

Mama Shelter

Funky rooftop bars are popular in the City of Light, mixing as they do a little la vie bohème with views of the twinkling lights Parisiennes are so proud. Affordable boutique hotel Mama Shelter operates a popular rooftop bar in Paris’s un-touristy 20th arrondissement; in Los Angeles, Mama Shelter’s iteration lives in the decidedly more touristy WeHo area, where you should order the Throw Mama from the Train, a concoction of vodka, Aperol, red grapes, lemon, mint and (shout out to Belgium) wheat beer.

6500 Selma Ave., West Hollywood; 323-785-6600 or

le petit paris restaurant chaors chandeliers
Le Petit Paris

Le Petit Paris

This multi-level dining and drinking establishment inside the historic El Dorado Building in DTLA has the sweeping feel of a grand department store like Le Bon Marché. This is an especially swank choice for Sunday brunch, since the 300-top joint means it’s never going to be too crowded, and the buffet has continental options including pissaladière (onion tart), quiche lorraine and croque monsieur, as well as bottomless mimosas (bien sûr).

418/420 S. Spring St.; 213-217-4445 or

pink cocktail lemon
Hongtat T./ Yelp

Petit Trois

The new Valley iteration of star chef Ludo Lefebvre’s tres magnifique bistro is packed morning ’til night with entertainment-and tech-industry types eager to get a bit of sophistication and steak tartare into their day. To fight the Valley heat, may we suggest the refreshing cocktail of the summer: the Fleur du Mal, a blend of rose-infused vodka, grapefruit and lime.

13705 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; 818-989-2600 or

belle vie food and wine plate wine bread
Belle Vie/ Facebook

Belle Vie Food And Wine

The West Side version of your Gallic local, here the tendency is classic French fare but rendered in eco-conscious ways. Thus the emphasis is on natural and biodynamic wine imports and organic California cheeses. Enjoy a glass of vin ordinaire (aka table wine) and a small cheese plate during happy rush hour while you wait for the clogged 405 to open up.

11916 Wilshire Blvd.; 424-832-7375 or

le figaro cafe tables patio food poeple beer
Kent Kanouse/ Flickr

Le Figaro

The closest thing to Les Deux Magots this side of the Mississippi, this little sidewalk café is always packed with regular folks and celebs enjoying a glass of Lillet Rouge or Champagne with their goat cheese bruschetta. Our idea of a perfect afternoon is picking up a new novel at the nearby Skylight Books, settling into a sidewalk table here and letting the afternoon (and Los Feliz shoppers) float by.

1802 N. Vermont Ave.; 323-662-1587 or