It’s not just great drinks that make a great bar — it’s also great service, great ambience, and fair prices that complete the experience.
We looked at six notable bar rankings compiled by critics and experts and aggregated the rankings to come up our own list of the Best Bars in America.
The rankings we used were James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists for Outstanding Bar Program; Esquire’s Best Bars in America; Food & Wine’s Best Bars in America; Zagat’s Hottest Bars in 15 U.S. Cities; The World’s 50 Best Bars from Drinks International; and Liquor.com’s Best Bars in America.
We gave each bar a numerical rating based on how many lists the bar appeared on and how high it appeared on lists that were ranked. We used the number of five-star Yelp ratings as a tiebreaker, where a bar with more five-star Yelp ratings outranked another bar when a tie occurred.
Death & Co. is a well-hidden gem on the border of the East Village and Alphabet City serving gourmet cocktails -- both entirely from-scratch innovations, and ones that take liberties with the classics.
Not many people used to know about Death & Co., but the secret's out, and now cocktail enthusiasts are prepared for the long wait, especially on weekends, for Dave Kaplan and Ravi DeRossi's award-winning menu.
Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta, the owners of beverage program company Bar Lab, collaborated with the Freehand Miami hotel to open James Beard Award-nominated bar The Broken Shaker.
The bar puts a little bit of Miami in everything it does, from the tropics-inspired drinks on the menu to the service itself, which extends out into the Freehand's oasis-like outdoor patio.
Trick Dog is 'a kick arse, well made, no bullshit, neighbourhood cocktail bar' in San Francisco's Mission District. The bar's signature drinks are named after famous San Francisco landmarks, from the Castro Theatre to the Dragon Gate.
Owners Josh Harris, Scott Baird, and Jason Henton -- also known as The Bon Vivants -- also churn out incredible, upscale bar food like Scotch eggs, thrice-cooked fries, and candied Spanish peanuts.
Anvil Bar & Lounge is Houston's first classic-cocktail-centric bar, and even has a list of its 100 favourites (categorized by style and type) that owner and bartender Bobby Huegel thinks everyone should try at least once.
The bar opened in 2009 to stellar reviews, and was a James Beard Award semifinalist this year.
In the late 1920s the historic building that now houses The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. served as the front for the largest alcohol ring in the country, running about 10,000 gallons a day by truck.
Today, bar owner Chris Doggett pays homage to its Prohibition-era heritage with an inspired cocktail menu, divided into categories like Required Reading, Easy Going, and Rebellious Spirits.
It may seem like The Varnish has a lot of rules -- no reservations, no parties larger than six, no loud behaviour -- but it's all to preserve this speakeasy-style bar's sultry atmosphere.
A project of Cedd Moses, founder of 213 Nightlife Group, the bar is a mixing pot of some of the best mixologists in LA. The Varnish is concealed in the back of Cole's sandwich shop, so you can conveniently enjoy great sandwiches with your cocktails.
The 'first handcrafted artisanal cocktail lounge' in Chicago, The Violet Hour -- a collaboration between restaurateurs Donnie Madia, Terry Alexander, and Peter Garfield -- is a dark and elegant cocktail lounge named for a T.S. Eliot poem.
The drinks are artfully-crafted with high-quality ingredients. Take, for example, the Juliet and Romeo (gin, mint, cucumber, and rose water) or the Daisy 17 (whiskey, lemon, grenadine, and orange bitters).
Kimball House is a beacon in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur. John Mathews has created a warm, easygoing, and enjoyable environment to sit down with friends and a well-crafted cocktail or two.
Try Southern favourites like the Good Ol' Boy (with bourbon, lemon, peanut, smoke, and sea salt) or the Afternoon Delight (with absinthe, juniper, coconut, vanilla, lime, and cava).
Located in a historic carriage house, Raven & Rose is a restaurant and bar that embodies the Portland spirit.
Though it serves cocktails made with all sorts of liquor, this place touts its cocktails made with single-barrel apple brandy, which is bottled exclusively for them by Germain-Robin.
To get into this hidden speakeasy, patrons enter through a faux phone booth inside a hot dog joint in Manhattan's East Village. Inside PDT (which stands for Please Don't Tell), there's a sleek bar where mixologists concoct tasty creations.
Another high-end speakeasy, Employees Only is hidden behind a storefront which advertises the services of a fortune teller. Behind the curtain is a long bar where skilled mixologists shake up high-end cocktails, such as bellinis with fresh pureed peaches and drinks made with fresh ginger root and pineapple.
There's also a nice outdoor garden in back.
Canon calls itself the 'whiskey and bitters emporium' for good reason: it claims to have the 'the western hemisphere's largest spirit collection.'
In addition to its huge array of liquors, this intimate bar serves tasty snack foods, like artichoke and fennel salad and rabbit leg confit.
Though Rivera bills itself as more of a restaurant than a bar (it made both Food & Wine's and James Beard's list), this hotspot also serves excellent cocktails.
Patrons can choose from an appealing cocktail menu or put their trust in the hands of the skilled bartenders, who will create bespoke cocktails.
This modern yet romantic restaurant/bar is the perfect spot to impress a date. It's known for its outstanding cocktails, and people rave about the Brown Derby (bourbon, grapefruit, lemon, honey, and bitters) and the Planter's Punch (agricole, lime, grenadine, grapefruit, and bitters).
Bar Agricole also serves delicious farm-to-table cuisine.
Clyde Common is the quintessential Portland hipster bar: It has communal tables, chefs who work in an open kitchen to create farm fresh local cuisine, and awesome cocktails. Try the Bourbon Renewal (bourbon, lemon, crème de cassis, bitters) or the Pacific Standard (vodka, lemon, ginger, honey, soda).
Located in New York City's Financial District, The Dead Rabbit is the place to be after work.
The bar/restaurant is split into different sections: the ground floor is home to the casual Tap Room which is best for beer and whiskey, and upstairs is The Parlour, which is a more formal restaurant that serves delicious small plates as well as '72 historically-accurate cocktails dreamed up by the nineteenth century's most celebrated bartenders.'
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