The Best Bars in America 2024 (2024)

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Sometimes you just want to settle in. Sometimes you need to call the audible, cancel the next meetup, ask the sitter to stay late, and get your friends to come to you, because you’ve found the place with an energy so perfect—exactly what you were looking for on that day, in that moment—that, really, could anything go up from here?

More bars these days seem to be a complete package, like a nightlife one-stop shop. They can be a club if you want—you know, the kind you dance in. They can be the place where you order a bottle of Champagne and endless oysters. They can be a jazz lounge. They can be the place where you think you’ve stumbled on a garage party attended by the city’s coolest people (in a city you didn’t know had cool people). They can be that dimly lit vault where you and everyone else become someone else.

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Bars have always been that third place, the spot where you hang outside work and home. But as we’ve discovered crisscrossing the country over the past twelve months to visit the new bars, they’re doing that in more nuanced and varied ways than they have in a long time.

It’s not just about the drinks. Then again, it’s never just about the drinks. —Kevin Sintumuang

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Popping bottles at Sauvage.

Sauvage Wine Bar and Shop

Phoenix

The Helen Anderson House was built for the widow of an insurance-company organizer. Today, all the cool kids in town throw natty-wine-fueled dance parties in her living room late into the night. The English cottage revival home has housed various businesses over the years, like a café and a gift shop, but make no mistake: Its current incarnation is definitely the most fun. What you’re having: A glass of something effervescent (like a pét-nat) to help you party all night. —Omar Mamoon

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Make Bar Next Door your new West Hollywood haunt.

Bar Next Door

West Hollywood

In La La Land, new drinking joints often take two forms: high-gloss, social-media-ready hellholes or wannabe social clubs. Both are awful! (And both often serve terrible drinks.) Then there’s Bar Next Door. This Sunset Strip establishment whispers Golden Age Hollywood with art-deco decor and cognac-hued, leather-wrapped furniture. The menu is divided into old standbys and new takes that combine seemingly incongruent ingredients like chlorophyll, Bénédictine, and Japanese whisky into highly sippable elixirs. What you’re having: The Olive Drive, a twist on the vesper with savory olive brine and Thai chile. Daunting? Maybe. But after one taste, it’s true love. —Daniel Dumas

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The room is as dark as the co*cktails are strong at LDV.

La Dolce Vita

Beverly Hills

A taste of the good life comes in many forms at La Dolce Vita. Sure, there’s the hearty Italian red-sauce fare coming from the kitchen—a bone-in veal Parmesan larger than your face and giant plates of vongole generous on the clams—but these are just items that allow you to imbibe more. Sit at the burgundy-colored booth with white tablecloths where Frank Sinatra once drank or hang out at the bar and take in the see-and-be-seen nostalgic sixties Hollywood scene: the dark and dimly lit brick-walled room, the leopard-spotted carpet, servers in black bow ties and cream-colored suits tending to exceedingly well-dressed celebs (or those who look like celebs). Is that Dua Lipa or does it just look like Dua Lipa? Take another sip of your Gibson and you’ll realize that it doesn’t really matter. What you’re having: A Gibson—this silky-smooth version is one of our Best Martinis in America for a reason. —O.M.

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The seafood platter at Chispa.

Chispa

Napa, California

After a long day of tastings in the land of cabernet that is the beautiful Napa Valley, you head deep downtown, where you give your red-stained teeth a rinse with something somewhat unexpected: tequila. Chispa is a sleek, agave-focused co*cktail bar that comes care of Aubrey Bailey, a former sommelier at a little old restaurant known as the French Laundry. She takes that same curatorial approach when seeking out special terroir-driven bottles from small-batch producers. Just as important, she has enlisted the help of bar director Marco Garcia to create a clever co*cktail list with the smooth and sweet spirit in mind. Select the drink that calls your name, and pair it with a couple of crudos and fried fish tacos to replenish thyself. What you’re having: Start with something light and classic, like a tequila highball, before moving on to something more citrus-forward. —O.M.

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The record shop inside Part Time Lover.

Part Time Lover

San Diego

Listening bars can sometimes come off as a bit precious when they’re found outside Japan, where they originated. Single malts and jazz on vinyl are cool but, you know, maybe too twee for every night. Part Time Lover celebrates the music-listening experience in a much more relaxed way. The vibes are mid-century living room yet more luxe. (Think wood, velvet, and checkered floors.) Like the rest of Consortium Holding’s bars, as well as the Lafayette (Esquire’s Hotel of the Year 2024), PTL is a richly detailed space where the interior design is as mesmerizing as the music. You’ll hear everything from acid jazz to deep house to tropicalia, and you’ll find a drink to match your mood—whether it’s an old-fashioned riff or a highball. Be sure to visit the record store in the back. What you’re having: Vinyl. Beware, though—shopping after a few drinks will almost certainly lead you to take out that credit card for some rare Japanese pressings. But hey, you probably won’t regret the decision. —K.S.

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Classic SF vibes outside Dawn Club.

Dawn Club

San Francisco

People not from San Francisco always seem to ask me these days: How’s San Francisco doing? And my response is always the same: It’s going through a tough moment. But people like Brian Sheehy are what make a city like this everlasting. Sheehy and Doug Dalton are the pair behind SF’s seminal co*cktail bar, Bourbon & Branch, and their latest project, downtown’s Dawn Club, is crushing the doom-loop narrative with well-made drinks and live jazz every night. Walk down Market Street and it’s easy to miss the small alley the bar is located in. But once you pass the wooden podium and enter the handsome room with its illuminated back bar, you know you’ve stepped into something special. What you’re having: The Hot Seven, a take on the Last Word that subs rye for gin and has a dash of pineapple juice to create a foamy texture after it’s shaken. —O.M.

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Golden Sardine’s logo on a blimp.

Golden Sardine

San Francisco

Once I sit down at Golden Sardine’s L-shaped bar with a cold glass of Riesling, I realize it’s a place that I don’t want to leave. The tiny wine bar is located in the middle of Little Italy, on Columbus Avenue in North Beach, and is run by poets-cum-oenophiles Andrew Paul Nelson and his wife, Caitlyn Skye Wild, who also happens to work at the legendary City Lights bookstore down the street. The two host poetry readings upstairs in a loft with a piano, which doubles as a bottle shop and bookstore in case you want some Fiano to go with your Ferlinghetti. What you’re having: A glass or bottle of Riesling, specifically Barrel X by Peter Lauer—it’s not too sweet and is beautifully balanced. —O.M.

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Starlite is on the 21st floor of the Beacon Grand.

Starlite

San Francisco

Starlite gives San Franciscans a reason to ditch their hoodies, dress to the nines, and glam out. Located on the twenty-first floor of the Beacon Grand Hotel, in the space that used to be home to the historic Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, it has a buzzing energy that you feel as soon as you exit the elevator and enter the jewel-toned art-deco room. The space is packed, DJs are spinning, and people are dancing with drinks in hand. You walk the perimeter of the room to take in the sweeping 360 degree views—San Francisco shines and sparkles differently from every angle. You quickly remember why this is the city you love… and you haven’t even had a drink yet. All of the co*cktails, designed by industry vet Scott Baird, hit hard; the only issue is figuring out which one you’ll start with, and luckily, you can’t go wrong. What you’re having: The Clarified p*rnstar, a riff on the classic with a touch of Champagne in the drink and edible glitter that lines your lips after one sip. —O.M.

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This was once a runway observation deck.

Traveling Mercies

Aurora, Colorado

Sometimes the best bars are in the most unexpected places. Exhibit A: Traveling Mercies, a co*cktail and oyster bar tucked away on the top floor of a food hall/marketplace in Aurora, a suburb twenty minutes east of Denver. On one side of the low-ceilinged room is a row of barstools looking out on the expanse (the room was once an observation deck for an airport runway); on the opposite side is the back bar, where bar manager Matt Baczor is stirring bone-dry martinis in one hand while shaking up potent daiquiris in the other; to his right, oysters are being shucked, swiftly and deftly. You may debate whether daiquiris or martinis go better with oysters. There are no losers in this argument. What you’re having: A salty, sake-infused oyster shooter to start, a couple of bone-dry sherry-and-gin martinis, a dozen oysters, and an ice-cold shrimp co*cktail before you head downstairs to sister restaurant Annette for your main meal. —O.M.

Sunday Vinyl

Denver

The glowing blue McIntosh turntables at the bar are a clear sign that this place is serious about music. Overlooking the tracks of Union Station, Sunday Vinyl is the chiller cousin of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder and Tavernetta next door. The food and eclectic wine list are both so great that you could easily make this your only stop of the evening, but you could also just pop in for some tuna tartare and a pét-nat or a martini with a little bump of caviar. What you’re having: If you can’t choose, go for one of the wine flights of some cellar gems. —K.S.

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Simmer Down was formerly a bank’s money room.

Simmer Down

Wilmington, Delaware

Yes, Wilmington. In the Quoin, a little hotel housed in a former bank, you’ll discover Simmer Down in the old money room. Today, it’s a richly detailed space with a green-marble bar; a surrealist, hand-painted mural with whimsical nods to the area; and swivel chairs with animals in a fairy-tale setting. The drinks are creative, but there’s nothing wrong with heading straight for the martini. There’s a whiff of Bemelmans here—who knew Delaware could be this cool? What you’re having: The Gravy Train, a very twisted rum and co*ke. —K.S.

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Kaiju’s Derek Stilmann.

Kaiju

Miami

Inside the Citadel, a food court in Little River, you ride the elevator up to the mezzanine level, to a space that’s so red you think they’re developing film in there. When your eyes adjust, you notice the nerdiness. The bar is an homage to kaiju (Japanese monsters), and the menu arrives in a nylon zippered case containing Pokémon-like cards with descriptions of the drinks, all named after said monsters. The staff commits to the bit: When a drink is delivered to you, the bartender explains where its name came from. It might seem a bit silly at first, but then you sip and you realize that these drinks are some of the most creative you’ll find in this corner of the country. Cheers to staying weird. What you’re having: The clarified espresso martini, which tastes just as dark as the real thing but has the elegance of an actual martini. —K.S.

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The Tropical Sour, a whiskey sour riff.

Medium Cool

Miami Beach

The name says it all. In South Beach, which teems with hot spots that are just a little too clubby, Medium Cool straddles the line between world-class co*cktail bar and a place where you can listen to live jazz or a DJ set and, if the mood strikes, get up and dance. And you probably will. MC could easily kill it as just another bar with a doorman and velvet banquettes, but the fact that it is low-key one of the best co*cktail bars in America (and not in a snooty sense—it has a shots menu) makes it a must-stop in Miami. What you’re having: The Piña Colada Daiquiri, a blend of two of the most essential warm-weather drinks. —K.S.

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Azure and chartreuse vibes at Punch Room.

Punch Room at the Tampa Edition

Tampa

Fitting for Tampa, with its history of pirates and privateers dating back to the seventeenth century, is a bar that leans into the more sophisticated spirits of the Caribbean. But this is a swank Edition, so you won’t find kitschy tropical tropes here. The lush room is a fusion of azure and chartreuse—settle in and explore. The drinks are delicate and revelatory; they’re tropical, but you’ll want to dress up for them. What you’re having: Ziggy’s Punch, which evokes eating jerk chicken on the beach. —K.S.

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The Water in the Distance: rum, coriander, pandan, lemongrass, and lime.

Ranger Station

Atlanta

Two Georgia brothers were hiking the Grand Tetons when they fantasized about bottling the spirit of a national park, creating “a place back home that feels like where park rangers tell their fishing tales on their day off.” Because one brother couldn’t shake the dream, he had to build it. The wood-paneled, dimly lit attic space on Atlanta’s Beltline has a seventies après-ski-lodge vibe, complete with taxidermy, vintage park souvenirs, and artfully mismatched leather furniture. If Palo Santo’s campfire scent and the live vinyl DJ don’t summon nostalgia, the inventive stirred and savory co*cktails certainly will. Don’t worry: The flavor absolutely lives up to the fuss. What we loved: That Cocoa Puff clarified milk punch? Hoo boy. You’ll go cuckoo for it. —Beth Ann Fennelly

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One of the best views on the Big Island.

Shipwreck Bar and Sushi at Kona Village, a Rosewood Resort

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

In the sixties, when this resort’s founders wanted to find a place in Hawaii for a camplike beach property, they did so on a boat. It later sank and was turned into a bar. That’s what we call upcycling. The artifact was lovingly restored when Rosewood resurrected Kona Village in 2023. It’s angled, so you have a perfect view of the sunset and the gentle lapping waves of this serene stretch of the island. That view alone would be enough to make you want to grab a stool and kick off your flip-flops, but the drink menu, which leans on local products like the indigenous apple banana, is one of the most dialed-in you’ll find outside Honolulu. What you’re having: The Guava Flow, a colada with a touch of guava. —K.S.

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Bisous is Chicago’s latest martini-centric bar.

Bisous

Chicago

You get a hint of Paris from the outside, between the gold lettering and the white curtains, but don’t expect this to be another cookie-cutter bistro in the West Loop. Bisous gives you that whiff of France through the subtle sixties-inspired logo and lush booths and textured wallpaper, sure, but definitely through the co*cktails, too, which all have a certain je ne sais quois, often delivered via a bit of brandy or fortified wine. What you’re having: The L’Jardine, a freezer martini with Aqua Perfecta Basil Brandy and local CH vodka. —K.S.

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Inside Chicago’s coolest Chinatown bar.

Nine Bar

Chicago

Head to the back room of the Moon Palace restaurant—family run and serving the community since 1995—and you will find the neon-lit Nine Bar, from Lily Wang and Joe Briglio. It serves mapo fries and drinks that lean into the ingredients of the neighborhood (e.g., Calpico, Szechuan peppercorns, plums). The Blade Runner vibe is heavy here, but the DJ and the angular, big-flavor co*cktails keep the overall atmosphere light. What you’re having: The Mahjong Money, made with mezcal, Japanese whisky, matcha, honey, lemongrass, and ginger. —K.S.

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The Frenchy French, a martini with brie-stuffed olives.

Equal Measure

Boston

A portrait of Stanley Tucci shaking a Negroni greets you, as a nod to the name of the joint: The Negroni is the most famous equal-parts drink, but tried-and-true co*cktail folks know that you certainly don’t shake it. Sometimes you just need to do you, though. And that’s the spirit of this spot from revered Boston bartender Jackson Cannon, who helmed Eastern Standard, one of the greatest high-volume bars in the country. (It closed but is now back, located down the hall from EM.) You can get martini riffs or simply order a pilsner. But with this level of drink making, opt for the co*cktails. What you’re having: Down the Rabbit Hole. It’ll change your mind about carrot greens. —K.S.

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Birds of Paradise specializes in cross-cultural drinks.

Birds of Paradise

Brighton, Massachusetts

Located on the site of an old police station at the Charles River Speedway marketplace, Birds of Paradise features a co*cktail menu that leans hard on the idea of travel. One part of the menu is devoted to a specific location in the world (like Guadalajara, Mexico), and another, super-adventurous part combines common ingredients from two different locations (say, Bangkok to Mumbai or Rio to Tokyo). The results, like the best kind of travel, are often unexpected. These drinks are more for explorers than they are for tourists. What you’re having: The Dublin to Caracas, an unlikely Manhattan variation with Irish whiskey, ripe banana, amaro, sherry, and tonka bean. —K.S.

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The rare Vegas lobby bar that’s destination-worthy.

Collins at the Fontainebleau

Las Vegas

For the most part, the ubiquitous Vegas lobby bar, the first place you encounter when you enter the hotel/casino, can feel a bit generic—just something to hit in between rounds of blackjack. That’s not the case with Collins, a circular bar with a bit of Miami-meets-Vegas glam. (Think marble, brass, velvet, and dim mood lighting.) You’re greeted with silver trays of olives and Marcona almonds, and you can throw down and get caviar service if you’re in the high-roller spirit. What you’re having: The Hotel Nacional Special, a forgotten classic that’s an even more tropical riff on the daiquiri. —K.S.

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Like your drinks weird? Go to Liquid Diet.

Liquid Diet

Las Vegas

Visit Vegas enough and unless you are a casino die-hard who thrives on oxygenated air and cigarette smoke, you’ll need to peel away from the Strip to reset a bit, to feel something more real. There’s no shortage of real Vegas, but nothing makes you believe you’ve wandered into an impromptu garage party like Liquid Diet. Located down an alley in an old mechanics shop in the Gateway District, with the glow of the Stratosphere a few blocks away, this is unlike any other Vegas scene you may have encountered before: thrifted furniture, loud music, and strange yet delightful culinary co*cktails whose names are scribbled on pieces of cardboard hung up above the bar. Despite the makeshift vibe, the co*cktails are some of the most creative and dialed-in you’ll find in Vegas. What you’re having: The date old-fashioned. A classic made just a bit more complex with a date infusion. —K.S.

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The Umeboshi: vodka, plum sake, umeboshi cordial, soda, coconut chai foam.

La Otra

Aberdeen Township, New Jersey

The bar next to Lita (one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants last year) is a destination in its own right—don’t let its proximity to a bowling alley and an ice cream parlor dissuade you. Whereas the drinks at Lita look at classics through an Iberian lens, at La Otra, beverage director Ricardo Rodriguez is a bit more free-wheeling. But like the best bars attached to restaurants, the drinks are on the culinary side, such as the Tzatziki, which uses vodka, aquavit, cucumber, dill, and yogurt, or the Nordic Old Fashioned, which made us a fan of smoked butter. What we loved: The Garden State Martini, which uses tomato water because: Jersey. —K.S.

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Sherry’s on tap at Mirador.

Mirador

Kingston, New York

Americans don’t know sh*t about sherry. Nick Africano is on a mission to change that. After years in the wine business, importing sherry and making regular visits to Spain, he and his business partner Harry McNamara opened Mirador, a tavern modeled on the Andalusian tabancos (sherry bars) where Africano received much of his education. Sherry might be the world’s most food-friendly wine, running the gamut from bone dry to sticky sweet and encompassing unfortified wines that could almost be white Burgundy, as well as viscous amber potions that insist on a syrupy flan. Thanks to Africano’s boundless enthusiasm and granular knowledge of the subject, if you have questions, you’ll come away with a deeper appreciation for the different styles, and their history, and how these wines mesh with the soulful and precisely executed menu of tapas and small plates. Order some food, ask Africano what to drink, and soak up the convivial vibes of a passion project with all the details laid out just so. What we loved: The Vieux Jerez, a sipper of Spanish brandy, rye, sherry vermouth, and oloroso. —Peter Barrett

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Yes, Martiny’s has martinis.

Martiny’s

New York City

The name is not a typo. The Gramercy carriage house that houses this Tokyo-meets-Manhattan-style bar was once owned by sculptor Philip Martiny. And yes, you’ll get a lovely martini, but go beyond the straight-up classics and try the Grand Martiny, a delicate dance of elderflower liqueur, gin, sherry, and cognac. The menu feels like a high-wire act, but it all stays afloat courtesy of a team led by Takuma Watanabe, from the original Angel’s Share, the bar that started N.Y.C.’s co*cktail revolution. What you’re having: Anything daring. With karaage and caviar, of course. —K.S.

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Flaming drinks are the norm at Paradise Lost.

Paradise Lost

New York City

You are welcomed with the ol’ secret-bar shtick: Discreet door. Buzz to open. But this isn’t some dimly lit drink temple. It’s much weirder: a tropical bar with punk sensibilities (this is the East Village, after all) and ultra-nerd co*cktail ambitions dressed up in red lights and bamboo-clad booths, plus lots of fish nets and trippy vintage paraphernalia. There are flights of esoteric, hard-to-find rums that come in mini treasure chests and a co*cktail list of more than twenty entries that range from twists on classics like the piña colada to drinks that push the boundaries of tropical co*cktails. What you’re having: The Damnboo, a refreshing take on the bamboo co*cktail with fino sherry, umeshu plum sake, caraway, and aloe. —K.S.

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Caviar sliders.

Parcelle

New York City

Parcelle looks less like a wine bar and more like a living room decorated with European modernist furniture, including a snaking de Sede couch and Gio Ponti chairs in a shade of emerald green similar to the exterior of this Chinatown spot. On the walls hang embroideries of mushrooms and other flora—it’s a sensual room. The ever-changing wine list is curated by sommelier and owner Grant Reynolds. There’s an excellent by-the-glass list, but so many of the bottles are priced so well that this really is one of the best places in the city to settle in and get some refined bar snacks like uni toast and Kaluga caviar sliders. What you’re having: A grower Champagne. You’ll almost always find a gem here for under $100. —K.S.

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Drinks at the Portrait Bar have an international flair.

The Portrait Bar

New York City

The Portrait Bar, in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, stands as a shining example of what can transpire when people really know what they’re doing. The drinks and the food reflect a quiet but confident virtuosity. You may think a martini has no use for aguardiente and cherry-bark vanilla bitters, but that’s only because you haven’t yet sipped veteran barman Darryl Chan’s Barrio Getsemani, informed by the flavors and fragrances of Cartagena. You may think you don’t need any bar snacks fancier than a bowl of nuts, but that’s only because you haven’t yet nibbled on veteran chef Andrew Carmellini’s crispy oysters with a celery-root rémoulade or his tuna tartare tucked into nori that deftly crackles in your teeth. The co*cktails pay tribute to cities around the world, from Oaxaca to Kolkata to Seoul, and the darkness of the partly hidden room has such a calming effect that you might try to hold on to your table for hours as you let your palate hopscotch around the globe. What you’re having: Everything. —Jeff Gordinier

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The bar at Guzzle.

Sip & Guzzle

New York City

Little Cornelia Street always seems to be humming now with the arrival of this all-star collaboration: Employees Only alum Steve Schneider mixes up deft but highly approachable drinks at Guzzle on the upper level, and Shingo Gokan, longtime beverage director at Angel’s Share, helms Sip downstairs, a space that echoes the interior of an Edo-period naval ship. It’s a bit of “party up top and business on the bottom” but a big night out no matter which way you cut it. What you’re having: Sip’s Wagyu old-fashioned. Bourbon, peanut butter, and Wagyu-beef fat—as delightful as it is strange sounding. —K.S.

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A martini at Tigre.

Tigre

New York City

This intimate Lower East Side bar is like the slingshot that launches you into the glorious night. It’s the Golden Snitch of a good time: a compact gilded room lined with undulating booths and bodies undulating on them, bathed in a low light, reached through a long hallway and purgatorial door. Once inside, everyone is serving looks, from the bartender to the waiter, a dead ringer for Jesus but hotter, who sashays in a cream silk pantsuit, holding trays of co*cktails much better than they need be. (Tigre is from the Maison Premiere team, no slouches when it comes to bars.) The menu, writ on gold paper, features co*cktails with lesser-known agave-based spirits like the Prickly Pear (bacanora) and Agave (raicilla). Down a few and you’ll emerge from the den neither knowing the time nor caring all that much, for the night and all its adventures await. What you’re having: The Cigarette martini, a very good smoky co*cktail made with Empirical Spirits Charlene McGee, Truman vodka, and Cap Corse vermouth. —Joshua David Stein

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Bartender Tristan Brunel preparing a Bloody Caesar.

The Tusk Bar

New York City

The Tusk Bar bills itself as a raw bar, but that might not register at first. Located through the lobby of the Evelyn Hotel, the space resembles more of a jazz-age salon than a place where lots of shucking is happening. There are oysters, yes, but the menu is from chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra of Wildair, so you’ll want the pillowy panisse, the live-scallop crudo, and that decadent Wagyu-steak sandwich. And it’s a bar, too. Tristan Brunel’s drinks are delightfully off-kilter: The old-fashioned has a hint of sesame, and the Bloody Mary is seasoned with fermented chile. What you’re having: The mini martinis with an oyster shooter. What a way to start things off. —K.S.

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The bar at the Uncanny.

The Uncanny

Portland, Oregon

The Uncanny describes itself as “the love child of a speakeasy and a dive bar.” That’s fairly accurate, but its location, in a house with windows lined in red neon, makes you think you’ve walked into a party. No house party has drinks this high-flying, though. The classic riffs are out there: The Vieux Carré has coconut Scotch and tepache sherry. The Sazerac has Träkál, a Patagonian spirit, and chanterelle. You’ll want to go on a co*cktail adventure here—thankfully, there are snacks, mostly vegan, to keep things going. In a city with plenty of beverage choices, this is one of the newest must-stops. What you’re having: The Devil in Disguise, a cacophony of difficult flavors (sotol, fernet, blackstrap rum) that just works. —K.S.

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Poison Heart’s espresso martini.

Poison Heart

Philadelphia

The appeal of Poison Heart is in its slightly punk stylishness. You can have fancy things like oysters and a freezer martini and a well-rounded wine list (it’s the same team behind Esquire Best Bar Superfolie) and a knowledgeable staff, but you can also have waffle fries and a patty melt and popcorn and a vibe that has you wishing you’d worn your black leather jacket. What you’re having: There is the freezer martini, yes, but the freezer Sazerac is sublime. —K.S.

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Drink ingredients stay local at Post Haste.

Post Haste

Philadelphia

Keeping things local has been a characteristic of the food space for a long time. In the drinks space, not so much. Fred Beebe and Gabriel Guerrero of Post Haste are trying to counteract that by only employing ingredients from east of the Mississippi. That means anything that comes in a bottle, even the ginger used in syrups, is from local distillers. If the bar itself, which is reminiscent of an old Irish pub, seems incongruous with what’s happening on the menu, that’s because it’s been upcycled as well. After all, sustainability goes beyond the glass. What you’re having: A cosmo riff that uses cranberry from the Pine Barrens, kumquat superjuice, and lemongrass syrup. —K.S.

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The One-Eyed Jacks, a tequila, mezcal, and horchata co*cktail.

Four Walls

Nashville

To find Four Walls, step into the elevator and press the floor number with the bar’s logo next to it: four little lines. Then make your way through the beaded curtains into a dark, moody space with a red-marble bar. This is not your typical hotel bar: The drinks are very technique-focused; the house Negroni is aged in jeroboam bottles; a Manhattan is stirred with celery and made with a bay-leaf tincture. What you’re having: The Paisano, a kind of martini on the rocks that just works. —K.S.

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A circus-themed booth at Tiger Bar.

Tiger Bar

Nashville

Take one part saloon, one part circus sideshow, and one part ambitious co*cktail bar and you’ve got yourself a pretty crazy night at Tiger Bar. The menu leans heavy on the gin, with one whole page dedicated to gin and tonics and another to martinis. While you will get very serious co*cktails here, the vibe is all party: No one seems to miss out on the cotton-candy Negroni, and you’ll want to stick around for the Champagne toast at midnight. What you’re having: The Snake (Oil) Charmer, a vodka co*cktail that’s velvety (olive oil! egg whites!) and captures the essence of a ripe grapefruit. —K.S.

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The Ayahuasca co*cktail: tepache, mezcal, ginger, and lime.

Ayahuasca Cantina

Dallas

As I step into Ayahuasca Cantina, a bar hidden deep in the back of an all-day café in Dallas’s Oak Cliff, I’m instantly reminded of Bósforo, my favorite little moody mezcal bar in Mexico City. Both establishments feature a dark, tall-walled, candlelit space where the music is loud yet the ambience remains effortlessly chill. The back bar is lined with a bunch of bottles—mezcal and tequila, of course—but the move is to begin with a flight of the less popular sotol, the grassy-flavored distillate that comes from a plant in the Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico. Though it’s not as ubiquitous as agave-based spirits, you can still taste the soul in every sip. Start here, then switch to one of the many seasonal co*cktails on the list. What youre having: A flight of sotol, followed by the Ayahuasca, a signature co*cktail that’s mezcal-filled and ginger-forward. —O.M.

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Light Years is also a bottle shop.

Light Years

Houston

Sometimes when I travel, I don’t want to go out to a bar—I’d rather chill at a friend’s house with wine. When I’m in Houston specifically, that friend is Steve Buechner. His house is stacked with the good stuff. Okay, fine—I’ve met Steve only once, and he made me pay for the wine. But his natural-wine bar and bottle shop, Light Years, is located in a house in Montrose, and if you go, he’ll treat you like a friend and allow you to linger as long as you want (or until last call). What you’re having: Anything your new BFF Steve is pouring behind the bar. —O. M.

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Little’s is in the old Pappas Seafood House space.

Little’s Oyster Bar

Houston

Despite the name, Little’s Oyster Bar is definitely more of a restaurant, but the bar itself is ample and the drinks are too good not to consider this a place where you’d want to make a night out of bubbly, martinis, and seafood. There are five Champagnes by the glass, and the co*cktails, by Oliver Brooks, are the right kind of light and bright accompaniments to both the Houston heat and a plateau of oysters, blue crab, and gulf shrimp. What you’re having: The Windward Isle. Imagine a Hotel Nacional co*cktail turned into a martini and this is what you get here. Sophisticated yet tropical. —K.S.

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A replica of Havana’s La Floridita sign.

Refuge

Houston

With Anvil, bartender/owner Bobby Heugel helped put Houston on the co*cktail map by introducing a big, fun spot that actually made killer co*cktails. Refuge is Anvil’s sophisticated but not pretentious cousin, located upstairs. A replica of Havana’s El Floridita neon sign welcomes you. But the rest of the space is dark, energized by hip-hop and drinks that feel classic rather than trendy, even though this might be the first time you’re tasting Oaxacan rum in a daiquiri. What you’re having: The Greenhorn, a bright-green drink that proves Midori is a worthy liqueur. —K.S.

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Fanboy’s interior will brighten your mood.

Fanboy

Richmond

Some restaurants are genetically endowed—better, stronger, faster—from birth with a sexy location, talented chef, and finessed service. Others layer on a slew of thoughtful enhancements from the ground up, via room hues and vibe, glassware and tunes, wine list and cadence of the meal. Fanboy, a tiny joint not much wider than a garage, is nondescript on the outside but 100 percent descript upon entry. Walls glow in swatch-card rainbows of orange Pantones, pristine arches that brighten the mood like a martini. There’s a DJ spinning vintage R&B vinyl that’ll compel you to sway in your seat. And given these close quarters, the loud music provides sonic cover for spilling secrets with dinner mates even though would-be eavesdroppers are close enough to steal shish*tos from your plate. If you can’t brave the decibels, come for lunch instead. The tea-leaf salad is a revelation of acid brightness and texture. The chilaquiles are a finger-food delight for sharing. Dinner ranges from a raw bar and caviar to a kimchi hot dog and an old-school burger. What you’re having: Anything from a tidy drink menu that will thrill somms and sober pals alike. —Jason Tesauro

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Café vibes at Bar Bayonne.

Bar Bayonne

Seattle

From the same fine folks who brought you the beloved bistro L’Oursin in Seattle’s Central District comes its younger sibling, Bar Bayonne, conveniently located next door. Here things skew a little bit more Spanish than French. The martinis are made with jambon-infused gin, dry sherry, and briny piparra peppers; plus, kalimotxo (the classic, highly quaffable Basque Country concoction of co*ke and red wine) is on draft. Start with some oysters, of course (I’m convinced the best ones in the world come from the Pacific Northwest), then snack on Spanish potato chips topped with thin slices of the slightly sweet and salty meat for which the bar is named. After that, stay and drink awhile or make your way to dinner next door. What you’re having: Kalimotxo on tap and a jambon-infused gin martini to pair with the snacky fare. —O.M.

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