Top tables: Le Bar Américain

If you happen to find yourself in Monaco, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, with its wall-to-wall designer stores, super cars and super-sized yachts, then chances are you won’t mind forking out €32 on a cocktail you can polish off in two sips. But how you feel about the “value” of such things – where even a humble Coke costs double digits – is irrelevant, because Le Bar Américain is more than a bar, it’s an experience.

This iconic lounge is located on the ground floor of the five-star Hôtel de Paris, opposite the equally legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo in the heart of the flashy sovereign state (second smallest in the world after Vatican City). Le Bar Américain exudes old-world glamour with its 1920s-inspired wood and red leather furnishings and dimmed lighting. There’s a terrace overlooking the Casino Square and the bar is open to the public from midday. But this is the kind of place that is best experienced once the sun goes down. Pull up a pew and a friendly member of staff will swing by for your order post haste, armed with an array of bar snacks. Make sure you try the Barbagiuan, a simple yet delicious spinach and cheese pastry that is a national delicacy. You can also order larger meals ranging from a cheeseburger and fries to house caviar and blinis at over €280 a pop. As for the drinks, naturally, you’re spoiled for choice. There are the usual soft drinks as well as champagne, spirits and wine (side note: Hôtel de Paris houses the world’s largest hotel wine cellar, home to around 350,000 bottles). But you really should order a cocktail. Signature tipples have poetic names that change with the seasons, and alongside classic cocktails are plenty of unexpected and exciting combinations. Try the “Meeting Kentucky” from the signature range, made with kumquat-infused bourbon, lemon juice, egg white and tangerine syrup. Or channel Jay Gatsby with a classic Martinez, a precursor to the martini, with its potent combination of gin, vermouth, sweet marasquin liqueur and aromatic bitters. Sit back and watch the well-heeled guests mill around but make sure you are equally smart in appearance; there’s no such thing as being overdressed in Monaco. You may even spot a celeb or two nursing a whisky on the rocks, but be aware of the no-selfies rule. With live jazz every evening and a closing time of 2am, it’s all too easy to while away the hours and spend a pretty penny in this legendary bar.

Le Bar Américain, Pl. du Casino, 98000, Monaco; montecarlosbm.com

Gemma Billington is a writer and editor

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