Cocktail pro's 10 favorite new bars of 2013
August 26th, 2013
07:00 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

Last year when barman extraordinaire Jim Meehan did his list of the Top 10 New Bars around the country, I said it was one of the best times in recent memory to be drinking great cocktails.
 
I was wrong. This is the best time in recent memory to be drinking great cocktails, whether it’s a perfectly stirred Negroni or a Cosmopolitan that you ordered after putting on your best shoulder-padded jacket. Drinking is more fun than it’s been in a long time.

Here to tell you more is Jim Meehan, the manager of Manhattan’s outstanding bar PDT and the editor of F&W’s cocktail books.

To see more about what he’s drinking, follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @mixography.

The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog - New York City (pictured above)
Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry spent years researching for the Dead Rabbit, a multilevel tavern that seems to have time traveled to the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District straight from the 1850s. The downstairs Taproom is the place for beers and whiskeys. The second floor Parlor has a menu with dozens of über-classic cocktails and communal punches; when you sit down, you’re served an “appetizer”: a teacup of a featured punch. The assortment of cool old-school cups even includes ones with mustache guards.
Twitter: @deadrabbitNYC

Dead Rabbit cocktail

Pouring Ribbons - New York City
Over on Avenue B in Manhattan’s East Village, Joaquín Simó, Troy Sidle and Toby Maloney opened this second-floor bar. The menu features 15 house drinks and 15 classics; they’re arranged on a grid that lets you figure out your cocktail profile, from Refreshing to Spirituous and Comforting to Adventurous. The Two Trick Pony, made with whiskey, bourbon and the Champagne of beers is one of the more Adventurous drinks here.
Twitter: @pouringribbons

 
Range - Washington, D.C.
Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s sprawling 300-seat restaurant has eight separate, fully functional kitchen stations that produce everything in-house for the adventurous menu. Barman Owen Thomson uses the restaurant’s very cool resources to make the 25 house cocktails (he and his team choose spirits by blind tasting). Another thing I love about this place: It’s one of the country’s best new restaurants and best new bars. And it’s in a mall.
Twitter: @volt_range

https://twitter.com/collins_jk/status/354009514665705474

Barmini - Washington, D.C.
For his first cocktail-centric spot, renowned chef José Andrés employs many of the avant-garde techniques that made his neighboring restaurant Minibar famous. (Don’t forget he pioneered the Salt Air margarita, too.) Head bartender Juan Coronado scours the globe for antique glassware—some dates to the 1920s—for his classic and modern day concoctions. The table behind the bar, where bartenders work as chefs do, is genius. 
Twitter: @barminibyjose

Paper Plane - Decatur, Georgia
Behind Victory Sandwich Bar, a place that’s known for it’s Jack & Coke frozen slushies, is this sort-of hidden lounge with walnut veneer paneling and black vinyl booths. Local hero bartender Paul Calvert has a short, well-chosen cocktail list that ranges from sherry-based drinks to the Bottle of Smoke. It’s a mix of mezcal, house-made raspberry syrup, lemon, Cynar and sparkling wine, and it’s delicious with the wild striped bass panzanella, made with hunks of brioche seared in duck fat, from Paper Plane’s food menu.
Facebook: facebook.com/paperplaneatl

No Vacancy - Los Angeles, California
Jonnie and Mark Houston spent three years restoring a century-old Victorian-era Hollywood house, then transformed it into an early 20th-century club that blends Wild West saloon with a gentlemen’s club. The gin- and whiskey-forward cocktail list was curated by barman Sean Hamilton. He chose a dozen bartenders to contribute recipes for the opening menu. I gave them a white rum, lemon and ginger liqueur drink with a hit of curry. The entrance is the single greatest bar experience ever, but I won’t ruin it for you. I will say that if you’re going to have aerialist “dancers” at a bar, you might as well have it in L.A., where they know what they’re doing.
Twitter: @NoVacancyLA

Trick Dog - San Francisco, Calfornia
In the Mission, San Francisco’s hottest new bar shares the same space as a couple of the city’s other cool spots, Sightglass Coffee and Central Kitchen. The two-story bar, the handiwork of Scott Baird and Josh Harris, features 25 house creations listed on a menu formatted like a 45 rpm record book (The Clash’s “Bankrobber” is a Wild Turkey rye–based drink). Chef Chester Watson’s concise bar menu—cracklins, shrimp cocktail with house Bloody Mary mix—is available late into the evening.
Twitter: @trickdogbar.com

Polite Provisions - San Diego, California
Behind the bar here is San Francisco drinks expert Erick Castro. The place is a craft cocktail bar with a beverage program modeled after an early 19th-century neighborhood soda fountain. The bar shares the same trendy address as Soda & Swine, a meat-focused concept by the Michelin-starred chef Jason McLeod. I’m not big on happy hours, but I’d hit this one, which runs from Monday through Thursdays.
Twitter: @politeSanDiego

Three Dots and a Dash - Chicago, Illinois
Guests entering the alley of this bar can follow a thin trail of blue lights to the entrance. Barman Paul McGee and chef Doug Psaltis headline the team behind this glammed up modern tiki bar, named after an old Don the Beachcomber cocktail. The beautifully illustrated menu features classic and modern tiki cocktails (including its namesake, made with aged rhum agricole, Guyanese rum, honey and falernum), along with large-format offerings that serve three to 12. A small food menu of island fare (luau chips, beef negimaki) is available, next to tikis gathered from former Trader Vic’s outposts in Chicago. 
Twitter: @ThreeDotsCHI

Broken Shaker - Miami, Florida
Initially opened as a pop-up, Elad Zvi and Gabe Orta’s Bar Lab team has made this South Beach’s most soulful bar. Not that hard, but this is an all-time great bar. Located in the Freehand hostel, the Broken Shaker serves handcrafted cocktails prepared from ingredients grown in its own garden. The space is indoors/outdoors; you can sit by the pool and drink the Rhum and Funk, made with Cocoa Puffs–infused rhum agricole. 
Twitter: @FreehandMiami

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soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Andrea

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch! "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it." by Oscar Fingall O'Flahertie Wills Wilde.

    http://www.go2album.com/pg/groups/2366474/obtenez-dans-forme-right-now-slacker/

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    September 10, 2013 at 7:26 am |
  3. Dom

    No mention of the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company in Philly? For shame.

    September 5, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  4. P Texas

    I've worked in the restaurant biz for over 35 years. Currently working as a bartender/wine steward in a 4 star restaurant. I am so tired of these Hipster drinks. The cocktail was invented because alcohol was so poisonous to the human body that it had to be diluted. We no longer live in those days. Enjoy a great American whiskey on the rocks, enjoy a great Canadian whiskey on the rocks, sip a six distilled vodka form Texas, defiantly languor over a highlands or island scotch neat. The only reason to put a bunch of sh.te in a drink is because you want to get f-uped and not feel guilty about it.There are some great alcohols that can be pared with a meal. Writing this I do realize I'm falling on deaf ears. Drink a glass of wine, sip a cocktail but sip responsibly.

    August 27, 2013 at 3:27 am |
    • drunkenbear

      You can not force maturity onto people you Nazi.

      It all depends on time, it all depends on the way you were raised, it all depends on who you hang out with, it all depends on your experiences. I choose to have drinks with friends who like a beer and or some whiskey and not ten gallon sugary drinks to get plastered. But this choice is after my experiences of drinking huge amounts of cheap watered down and flavored cocktails.

      You are right about how 30-40 year old hipster men are opening up new bars and creating new drinks as if they are cutting edge. The one thing all of the hipster bars have in common is that they all play the same hipster music and wear tight pants with plaid shirts and have the same 1950's Americana hipster tattoos be it in New York or Seattle or London or Japan.

      But whatever, who cares. If I was to open a bar it would just be a nice dark wooden and relaxed atmosphere that will not play music that is on a hipster's ipod.

      August 27, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • drunkenbear

      You can not force maturity onto people.

      It all depends on time, it all depends on the way you were raised, it all depends on who you hang out with, it all depends on your experiences. I choose to have drinks with friends who like a beer and or some whiskey and not ten gallon sugary drinks to get plastered. But this choice is after my experiences of drinking huge amounts of cheap watered down and flavored cocktails.

      You are right about how 30-40 year old hipster men are opening up new bars and creating new drinks as if they are cutting edge. The one thing all of the hipster bars have in common is that they all play the same hipster music and wear tight pants with plaid shirts and have the same 1950's Americana hipster tattoos be it in New York or Seattle or London or Japan.

      But whatever, who cares. If I was to open a bar it would just be a nice dark wooden and relaxed atmosphere that will not play music that is on a hipster's ipod.

      August 27, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Manhattan Side Car

      You are writing on deaf ears, or more so, eyes, because you are being very pompous, just on the polar opposite end. You'd feel right at home at any williamsburg apothecary for a 4 star snob. Same ilk, different wardrobe.

      August 27, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • ninthlion

      Funny you say that because I just read an interesting article today on Difford's Guide that suggests that whiskey was always meant to be mixed. Please read it here:. http://www.diffordsguide.com/class-magazine/read-online/en/2013-08-27/page-8/whisky

      August 28, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Paul

      you're definitely writing to the wrong crowd. If you got this far through this article, 95% you did it because you actually *like* cocktails and are interested in them. Many people, myself included, like them because of the sophisticated play of tastes, aromas, and techniques, much like a distilled-down version of cooking a fine meal.

      There's place for straight spirits, but denigrating cocktails because you want to be pompous about drinking your whiskey neat is asinine.

      August 28, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Paul

      Also, I don't know where you got this idea: "The cocktail was invented because alcohol was so poisonous to the human body that it had to be diluted". Alcohol is just as poisonous now as it ever has been. And it takes the same amount of spirit to get the same amount of drunk no matter what other adulterants may or may not be present.

      I think you may be referring to the fact that distilling techniques and equipment were not once what they are today, which did leave many spirits with potentially toxic (well, more toxic than alcohol itself) substances in them. Again, diluting won't make anything less toxic if you're still drinking the same absolute amount. But, toxic things tend to taste like crap, so mixing the spirits with other flavors made a lot of sense to hide the taste.

      August 28, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  5. Howard Noel

    Need to try the "Bar-X" in Salt Lake City. It's the oldest dive bar in the city and has been refurbished into the best cocktail bar in the area. While it serves the best Moscow Mule, it is famous for its own invention - the "Edison Street." The
    Bar-X" is consistently listed as the best cocktail bar in town - co-owned by several local businessmen and Emmy Award winning actor Ty Burrell (Modern Family).

    August 26, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  6. Bob

    The Carving Room, DC!

    http://www.carvingroom.com/

    August 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  7. palintwit

    And this is exactly why tea party patriots prefer to keep their refrigerator on the front porch !

    August 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Seriously...

      Would you please kill yourself?

      August 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Mike

      Don't forget the rusty old stove. No need to leave the porch with that outside.

      August 27, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • palintwit

      Sorry. I do tend to be rude and inconsiderate. It's just my Liberal trait shining through.

      August 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • Seriously...

        Go abort yourself.

        August 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • palintwit

          I haven't heard otherwise so I can only assume Sarah Palin continues to waste oxygen. *sigh*

          August 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
      • palintwit

        palintwit imposter at 3:00 pm ^

        August 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
        • palintwit

          Why are you posing as me?

          August 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
        • palintwit

          Only a low life conservative (that's the only kind there is) uses someone else's screen name.

          August 28, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • Seriously...

          How about the both of you go abort yourselves...

          August 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
        • palintwit

          I agree, impostor. So why are you using mine?

          August 28, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • Kat Kinsman

          If you two don't stop fighting, I'm going to have to turn this car around, and then no one gets to be palintwit.

          August 28, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
        • palintwit

          but MMMOOOOOOMMMMM!

          August 28, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  8. Edwin

    Thank you for letting me know which places to avoid! I'll take a dive bar anyday.

    August 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  9. JerseyBoy

    Does anywhere else truly matter though? All four of these area's are high tourist destinations. Chances are, when most people visit butt f*k Idaho, they aren't planning a night out at a "trendy" bar.

    August 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • FloridaGal

      Fodor's you are not.

      August 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  10. lol

    Looks like a lot of effort went into investigating new bars in at least 4 areas in the country. Let's see, NYC: check, Chicago: check, Trendy California areas: check, Miami: check. That about covers everything...good thing there are no new bars anywhere else in the country even worth looking into, because as we all know, only the bigger, posh metro areas have fine enough drinking establishments, so why even bother looking any further.

    Besides; if you can't get valet parking, it's not a "real" bar anyway and if you're not willing to spend $20 min. on a watered-down, neon concoction made by a certified mixologist, then you don't know anything. Plus, everyone knows that $10 right out of the can bud light tastes so-much better with the proper lighting, artwork and chic ambiance.

    August 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Paul

      It's lazy is what it is. That and the writers of these pieces don't have a travel budget. I went to one of the greatest cocktail bars I've ever been to earlier this month – in Hattiesburg, Mississippi! There are great ones too in places as small as Asheville, NC and Knoxville, TN.

      August 28, 2013 at 9:59 am |
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