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Harry’s New York Bar in Paris Where Lost Generations Go for Great Cocktails

Harry's New York Bar in Paris | 7 Robots

Harry’s New York Bar in Paris where famous people have gotten drunk for over 100 years and a monkey hangs from the ceiling

Why is it called “New York Bar”? Because over 100 years ago, the original owner literally dismantled a bar in New York and shipped it to Paris. I’m 100% serious. Harry Macelhone bought the bar when the original owner went broke (maybe from shipping an entire bar from NY to Paris) and this New York Bar became Harry’s.

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

“Advertised as The Oldest Cocktail Bar in Europe, this bar originally opened in 1911 as just “New York Bar”. In 1923 it was bought by Harry MacElhone who added his first name and popularized it among the growing numbers of American expatriates who were starting to flock to Paris. Some of their famous clientele included Sinclair Lewis, Coco Chanel, Rita Hayworth, and Ernest Hemingway (what famous bar didn’t he frequent?).” [read more…]

A few more famous alumni include Gershwin, Fitzgerald and James Bond. Although James Bond is a fictional character, Ian Fleming added this little detail in A View To A Kill. When 007 was in Paris he, “invariably stuck to the same addresses… if he wanted a solid drink he had it at Harry’s Bar.”

Harry’s is also famous for inventing a few famous cocktails, though other dispute their claim. The Sidecar, the Bloody Mary and definitely the French 75, which I am dying to try (1/2 ounce simple syrup, 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 ounce gin and champagne). To this day, Harry’s is known for its limited menu: a wide variety of the best cocktails in Paris, and to eat… only hot dogs. Talk about burying the lead! I should have mentioned the hot dog thing in the headline. I know that’s why everyone seeks out this famous cocktail bar.

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

“Located near the Opera in Paris’prestigious 2nd arrondissement, Harry’s started as a bistro which was purchased and converted into a bar by American jockey, Tod Sloan, opening on Thanksgiving Day, 1911. Called simply “The New York Bar,” the actual wooden bar itself was imported in from Manhattan, and a Scottish barman named Harry MacElhone was hired to run the joint. In 1923, Harry bought the bar outright, added his name, and began to turn Harry’s into one of Paris’ most legendary watering holes…

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

As American writers, artists and sportsmen began to flock to Paris during the Jazz Age, Harry’s New York Bar became a staple on the hard drinking circuit. Its address, 5 Rue Daunou, was the bar’s calling card, with advertisements in the international press running a tagline telling visitors to simply ask taxi drivers to head to Sank Roo Doe Noo.” [read more…]

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

There are still faded American College pennants hanging on the walls with wooden tables and chairs. In the bar’s famous stories is that of George Gershwin composing An American In Paris.

There was even an exclusive club for all of the serious drinkers called the International Bar Flies (IBF). Members would wear a tie clip with two flies ready for a night on the town, wearing top hats, canes and spats. You can still see them on the mirror on the wall behind the bar. In addition to the smartly dressed bar flies, Harry has another prominently displayed animal.

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias 

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

A monkey in Harry’s Bar?

There was one thing about Harry’s that left me rubbing my chin and wondering – what that wha? Hanging from the ceiling is a somewhat creepy monkey ornament hooked onto a pair of leather (?) balls and a very old set of boxing gloves. If anyone knows the story behind these decorative elements, please let me know. I’m referring to it as the Cocktail Monkey.

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

Closing thoughts

So, next time your in Paris, stop by and see this relaxing little slice of history. You can visit Harry’s after a night at the opera or avoid the opera all together and have a damn good cocktail (reference to the Marx Brothers movie intended).

Gratuitous photos of booze bottles

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias
Miguel Guerra enjoying the atmosphere

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