The Top Five Bars in Lyon
Bars in Lyon rival Paris for their sheer number and creativity. The bar scene in Lyon is filled with experienced and talented bartenders. If you’re looking for the best places to get a drink in Lyon, look no further than our top five bars in Lyon.
Lyon saw its first cocktail bar open in 2006 – one year before the Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris and the beginning of the cocktail boom in France. In fact, after Paris, Lyon has the largest number of cocktail bars in France. For 10 years, Lyon has played host to high-level institutions, boosted by a united community and passionate bartending personalities. Five bars stand out for their creativity, their service, and their original concepts.
Bars in Lyon – Groom: an explosion of creativity
One of the newer bars in Lyon, Groom, a hybrid venue, landed in Lyon like a bombshell in 2017. Remy Merlin, head bartender of Barum at the Marriott Hotel, quickly became a fan. The bar “succeeded in the challenge of combining a great cocktail world and high quality musical programming,” says Merlin. Same positive vision for Gwendal Poullain manager of the famous spirits shop and retail of The Whisky Lodge: “An original bar in the Lyon landscape. A successful bet since the opening!”
In a space which looks more like Berlin than Lyon, Groom hides two bars led by Florian Dubois. “With each cocktail, he gives the impression of delivering a masterclass, with a multitude of anecdotes,” says Merlin, smiling. It’s no surprise when you see Dubois’s CV, featuring long stints at the ECC in both New York and London. The creativity of his cocktails is his strength. Dubois is very much at home juggling unexpected ingredients and unusual flavors. One drink which comes highly recommended is his coconut-infused take on an Old Fashioned. Groom also has a novel take on bottled cocktails, which make it easier to sip your drink as you explore the venue.
L’Antiquaire: the cocktail reference
A quick refresher on this gem of a bar: L’Antiquaire is the second bar in Lyon owned by Marc Bonneton, one of the biggest names in modern French mixology. It’s been a few years now, but L’Antiquaire, which looks like an old-fashioned English club, has not aged a day. The bar has its regulars, like Jean-Christophe Le Poder, creator of the website L’Homme Français. He says it was a meeting with the shaker master that made him fall in love with the bar. “Marc Bonneton has the art of making us dive into the history of the cocktail. I compare him to an artist, with an incredible talent to create and communicate his passion,” says Le Poder.
The team of bartenders has got a real laboratory to play alchemists, serving beautiful and delicate drinks. Le Poder now frequents Marc Bonneton’s latest venture, Jockey Club, new bar reserved for a select clientele, located on the first floor of the L’Antiquaire building. “It’s a concept that was still missing in France. All the excellence of the bar between trendy and elitist, with a fine collection of spirits and classic cocktails,” Le Poder says. L’Antiquaire is also one of industry expert Gwendal Poullain’s favorites. “Subdued atmosphere, a background of jazz or blues music, for a moment of elegance out of time. L’Antiquaire is an institution,” she says enthusiastically.
Soda Bar: The Pioneer
Has the first modern cocktail bar in Lyon kept its aura since opening in 2006? For Aymeric Tortereau, a bartender-consultant based in Lyon, there’s no doubt it has. “Soda Bar is a very high quality establishment managed by enthusiastic people. And the bar always makes a buzz.” The look of the place has not changed much in 10 years. Soda Bar is a setting for aficionados of the colorful 1970s, when soul was the music on every turntable.
These days, the bar is run by Chloé Jarjavail and Simon Quay, who have been putting their own stamp on the venue. Over the past year, the duo has created a more original and seasonal offering – a change of pace from the classics which made Soda Bar famous. Original home-made syrups, mezcal and calvados flavors are waiting to warm your taste buds this winter. Cheers!
Black Forest Society: German inspiration
German spirits may not be the first thing you expect from bars in Lyon, but when you discover those German spirits in a cool venue, mixed into well-made cocktails, it all makes sense. This is the Black Forest Society bar that blends simplicity with German flavors. One loyal customer is Quentin Caillot of the website Geek & Food. “It’s my favorite cocktail bar in Lyon, because in my opinion it’s the only bar that is both cozy and without fuss,” he says. Of course, there is one ostentatious detail: the neon sign which screams ‘Black Forest Society.’
Through the cocktail menu, the head bartender Yoann Vantorhoudt and his team take you on a trip through the German landscape. Gin, vodka, herbal and fruit liqueurs – everything is available for reinterpreted classics as well as new creations. Caillot particularly appreciates the mindful service and the well-balanced classics. “Yoann is the only one who knows how to do the Green Beast cocktail as I like. He made me discover this magic drink when he worked at L’Antiquaire, and I followed him here to find this cocktail,” says Caillot. No doubt he also comes to Black Forest Society for the delicious crispy bretzels, too.
Casa Jaguar: the kingdom of the exotic
A new and exciting place from Lyon cocktail master, Arnaud Grosset, whose impressive resume includes bars in Lyon such as Soda Bar and Monkey Club. Casa Jaguar rolls out the red carpet to the flavors of another culture – Central and South America. It’s “a great way to promote another category of spirits, mezcal and tequila, and to show something else besides rum. The Lyon clientele is ripe to discover this other exotic market,” according to cocktail expert Fernando Castellon. Casa Jaguar is also divided into two sections, restaurant and cocktail bar.
The highly exotic décor is much appreciated by Castellon “for its green and stimulating side, thanks to the installation of a hanging garden,” and there are flamingos in the room where the head bartender Samuel Dedieu and his team get to work. The menu is aimed at newcomers, with one third dedicated to rum cocktails, one third to tequila and mescal, and one third to other spirits. Castellon is particularly impressed by the mescal-based drinks. “The twists are relevant, especially for the sours mixed with homemade ingredients – very fresh and tasty.” You can’t argue with a connoisseur.
Foto: Photo via Shutterstock.