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Paris: 5 summer drinks to try at the café

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cafe Paris summertime
Cool off with the right boisson at a Paris café. Photo: Joel52

Few experiences in Paris are as rewarding as sitting at a café for hours with a single beverage, watching the world pass by. During the summer, the sidewalk terraces open and the street theater plays out in front of you.

As long as you stay away from the most famous streets and tourist-laden cafés in the city, the café experience in a “normal” part of town should not be an expensive one, with drinks usually costing less than €5 at prime outside tables–offering some of the cheapest theater in Paris.

When the temperatures climb, a glass of red wine or a hot espresso aren’t always the most appealing choices, even if they are inexpensive. Sometimes a nice cool beverage with a few rare French ice cubes is what we all crave. Avoid the temptation to ask for an iced coffee or “un Coca” and dare to try one of the many other drinks that the café bartender can mix up for you.

Rose wine Paris cafe

Drinking pink. Photo: SteveR

Here are five inexpensive yet popular drinks that Parisians love to sip in the sun:

Diabolo menthe

Perhaps my favorite coffee alternatives, the Diabolo is a generous glass of icy French limonade (almost like lemonade) with a bit of minty syrup mixed in. The lemony-mint drink is delicious and light and leaves your mouth tingling. Cafés will also serve the drink with a variety of other flavored syrups like raspberry or strawberry, so just ask if mint isn’t your thing. Great for kids.

Rosé wine

Tourists often think that there is a stigma around rosé wine, but it’s not true. In the warmer months Parisians hit the terraces with their glasses of slightly sweet but crisp pink wines, most of which comes from Provence in the south of France. As an aperitif a glass of chilled rosé is not only acceptable, but actually encouraged by Parisians during the summer.

Monaco

The Monaco puts a spin on a normal beer by adding some grenadine syrup and limonade to an icy light draft. If a pint of beer just seems too heavy on a warm summer day, the Monaco is the perfect way to still enjoy beer without weighing you down.

Panaché

If the Monaco seems too sweet, opt for the Panaché instead. Equal parts beer and limonade make one of the best frosty Parisian café drinks around. Both of these beer cocktails are great to have before meals, after meals or just during a lazy afternoon after a day of sightseeing.

Pastis

This licorice-flavored drink isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic before-dinner beverage that evokes the flavors and sensations of the south of France. From the lavender fields of Provence, pastis was created in response to the outlawing of its more dangerous big brother, absinthe, in the early 1900s.

A shot of the green liquor turns cloudy as you add ice cold water to it, creating the perfect palette-cleansing cocktail. If you aren’t crazy for licorice flavor, ask for a Perroquet, the version with mint syrup, or the Tomate, the version with grenadine.

Carafe d’eau

No matter which drink you get, never hesitate to ask for a glass of water or a carafe d’eau, a small pitcher of water. It’s important to stay hydrated, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit with other drinks.

Your favorite summertime drinks?

Did we miss your favorite summertime cocktail? Tell us about it in the comments section!

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog: www.bryanpirolli.com.

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3 thoughts on “Paris: 5 summer drinks to try at the café”

  1. One of my favorite French aperitifs is a kir: white white with creme de cassis. Or if I’m feeling sassy I’ll get a kir royale which is champagne mixed with creme de cassis. Cassis is a dark berry, something like a blackcurrant. If I’m looking for a non-alcoholic drink I like Orangina, it just tastes better in Europe.

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  2. Thank you, I’m actually going to Paris for the first time in July and this helps a bunch because I know I’m going to find myself at cafes plenty, not wanting to drink coffee or beer. Diabolo Menthe sounds excellent. The Germans have something exactly like Panache called radler, had it at an outdoor cafe in Berlin, very refreshing.

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  3. One of my favorites is Citron Pressé. It’s just a glass of pressed lemon juice, a small pitcher of water and sugar. It’s up to you to find the perfect balance. It takes a bit of time to get it just right, so it’s a great drink if you have some time to kill, but don’t want to pay for another drink. Orange pressé is another option if you’re not into the puckering effect of the citron!

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