The 20 Best Bars in the United States in 2021
Per IBISWorld, the U.S.A. has 59,052 bars and nightclubs. So declaring that you’ve whittled America’s best bars down to only 20 is a bold assertion. That does not limit us from doing so, and Hey, if all of these are America’s best bars (out of 59,052), – then these 20 places have to be unique. We hope you can enjoy that cathartic first drink on a barstool again soon. Things are different in strange ways, but you might come upon some old customs in the ether. There’s a longing among the readers for wonder-in such experiences as pairing wines with whiskeys, savoring a pint in a historic church, or spending time in jazzy bars-and gratitude for businesses that have remained integral to this country’s drinking culture. In the mix this year, you will find a groundbreaking cocktail bar in Harlem, a historic sake bar in the Mission District, and a classic bar in the Upper West Side.
20. Fadensonnen in Baltimore, MD
Most people begin their evening at Fadensonnen bar with an amaro shot. According to Forbes, after taking the shot, most people end up strolling out into the Old Goucher area, holding a warhead-sized bottle of organic sake, and continuing the celebration somewhere. A night at this charmingly rustic courtyard, which features a multilevel natural-wine, beer, and sake hangout constructed into an old carriage house by Lane Harlan and Matthew Pierce, purveyors of some of Charm City’s most unusual watering establishments, can take many different directions. Among the bottles and the crowd, there is an artsy, agrarian vibe. Just give it a chance if you ever questioned that Baltimore could be cool. —K.S. 3 West Twenty-third Street
19. Arnaud’s French 75 Bar in New Orleans, LA
The dimly lit Arnaud’s French 75 Bar is located within walking distance of Bourbon Street, in one of Arnaud’s Restaurant’s several rooms. Since 1918, Arnaud’s has been serving Creole cuisine, so it is no surprise that their cocktail selection is based on classics. The drink menu, led by head bartender Chris Hannah, features creative variations on old favorites crafted with fresh ingredients, homemade syrups, drams, and liqueurs – think the iconic French 75, a Rob Roy-inspired cocktail made with Courvoisier VS, sugar, lemon juice, and Mumm’s Cordon Rouge.
18. The Old Fashioned in Madison, WI
In 2005, the company was founded. The Old Fashioned has become a neighborhood favorite in a short amount of time. This informal joint, known for sourcing local foods from all across the state (anything from meat to produce), is inspired by the traditions of Wisconsin taverns and supper clubs, so expect one of the most impressive beer selections, with more than 50 options on tap and over 100 by the bottle.
17. Watchman in Atlanta, GA
Watchman’s is a place for lively regional seafood—oysters from Georgia, Florida, and Alabama are prominent—and genuinely excellent beverages, with a dash of French inspiration, a touch of Caribbean influence, and a bit southern flair. Miles Macquarrie, a co-owner, is a stickler for standards. However, his intelligent concoctions combine strategies for geeky tinkerings, such as a highball made with Rather than sparkly wine, use aged rum, lime juice, as well as fizzy Albarino for a harmonious flavor and appealing demonstration, vibrant hues captivate the eye in ensembles that tastes like a luxury holiday. —Osayi Endolyn, 99 Krog Street
16. Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle, WA
Despite the departure of renowned bartender Murray Stenson, who attracted patrons (and bartenders!) from all over the world to The Zig Zag Café, the Seattle spot continues to mix up award-winning cocktails. This is still the go-to for people looking for top-notch cocktails in Seattle, with a big selection of whiskeys, brandies, tequilas, rums, and several exotic or difficult-to-find spirits. As a bonus, the bartenders – many of whom worked with Stenson – frequently let customers try new liquors.
15. P.X. Lounge in Alexandria, VA
Given that P.X. takes its speakeasy designation seriously, the lack of signage is unsurprising. Ring the doorbell, wait for someone to answer, explain why you are there, and they might just unlock the locked door. According to Men’s Journal, Patrons will find a trio of dimly-lit cozy rooms down a flight of stairs that serve as the ideal laid-back, romantic backdrop for enjoying masterfully crafted cocktails, the majority of which have Prohibition-era names (think Flips, which are cream and egg cocktails that haven’t been widely served in decades).
14. Drink Bar in Boston, MA
Instead of scanning a cocktail menu, patrons are invited to converse with the bartender to come up with the concoction most likely to satisfy their current desires. Drink’s bartenders have an encyclopedic understanding of the art of the cocktail, and they pay close attention to every detail, from producing the properly sized ice cube to whipping up little snacks to flawlessly pairing with their beverages.
13. Hunky Dory in Brooklyn, NY
This Crown Heights corner cafe is from which you can begin your day with hot coffee and end it in style with a drunken lunch of marinated okra martinis as well as a side dish of oysters, and finish the evening with your pals over a cool Irish coffee pick-me-up. While Hunky Dory’s inside is a lovely, light-filled environment, its expansive patio has always been a popular hangout spot. this year, hosting a monthly Pop-up run by chefs. Claire Sprouse, the bar’s proprietor, is a force to be reckoned with in the industry promoting sustainability, even if it is not clear from the excellent beverages. Optimistic Cocktails, her internet magazine, features cocktails made with kitchen waste from all over the country. CA 747 Franklin Avenue —K.S.
12. Bar Agricole in San Francisco, CA
At Bar Agricole, it is all about the classics, with proprietor Thad Vogler describing the cocktails as “simple, authentic traditional drinks, with nice ingredients.” Vogler has constructed a 500-square-foot biodynamic garden in his LEED-certified building in SoMa to grow fresh products for his artisanal-crafted cocktails. The décor, which consists of repurposed white wood walls (previously whiskey barrels) and décor items from local artists, reflects the drink menu’s sustainable, eco-minded philosophy.
11. Lazy Bird in Chicago, IL
Lazy Bird, a secret passage underneath the Hoxton Hotel, may win just based on its dark seduction in the jazz era. The ambitious drinks included in the genuine lure are included in a leather-bound book containing components and art. A Hemingway martini is a dialed-in classic, while the Mary Pickford, a rum-forward cocktail, and the Blackthorn, which is an Irish whiskey tribute, are deep cuts. You will be energized and buzzed when you leave the bar. —K.S. 200 North Green Street.
10. La Belle Vie in Minneapolis, MN
Tim McKee, the executive chef at La Belle Vie, was named the 2009 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Midwest. You can expect a beautifully crafted wine list from this luxury dining, which is built with high ceilings and crystal chandeliers, but do not let an evening pass without sipping a drink from their French-influenced cocktail menu. The Parlez-Vous, prepared with raspberry vodka, pineapple juice, cava, and topped with orange-passion fruit foam, is one of the standouts.
09. Comfort Station in Cincinnati, OH
According to Taste of Home, you will not come around Comfort Station by accident. When you are around Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills area, it is unlikely that you will discover a women’s restroom entrance on the outside of what was once a communal bathhouse. However, if you bravely continue on, you will come to what appears to be the city’s spiritual heart. Within, the bartenders whip up concoctions like Paradise, My Reward, a frothy sour containing adobo chile, which is quite wonderful, which will satisfy any manhattan and oatmeal cookie lover. Sarah Rense, 793 East McMillan St. Atlanta, GA’s
08. Holeman and Finch Public House in Atlanta, GA
Deep Sleep, a cocktail created of Beefeater dry gin, bitter truth sloe gin, Campari, and Luxardo Maraschino, is one of Holeman & Finch Public House’s southern-inspired cocktails. The Tuck and Roll, created with Prunier Cognac VS, Galliano, bitter truth celery bitters, Sorghum, and lime, is one of the standout cocktails, led by mixologist Greg Best.
07. Tender Mercy in Dayton, OH
Tender Mercy launched three days well before lockdown, which was unfortunate and bad timing— as a result, over a year, this optimistic refuge in the middle of nowhere in southern Ohio remained a mystery, save for Dayton residents who drank there. The pub persuaded the city to tunnel under the concrete by entering through the subway stairwell. Then proceed further into the cavern, where you will find a bookstore, a vault that has been transformed into a drinking den, and a wide bar selling draft beverages, a wall of (deliciously) naked girls, and a hideaway cocktail lounge with something like a fireplace as well as a burning image of Richard Gere by the liquor bottles. 607 East Third Street, S.R. 1.
06. Noble Riot in Denver, CO
This is an odd wine; a bar in a graffiti-and-mural-decorated alleyway in Denver’s RiNo area will teach you that Colorado produces some fascinating natural wines, among other things. Whether you are looking through one of the zine-style menus, being advised Chilean pét-nat, or a huge red from Palestine paired with a bowl of crispy fried chicken, you will find that wine can be random and unpredictable.
05. PDT – New York City, NY
PDT stands for “Please Don’t Tell,” yet this Prohibition-era-inspired speakeasy quickly gained a following in Manhattan and beyond. According to Esquire, when you enter the eatery’s vintage phone booth, please pick up the phone, tell the hostess your name, and you are in the enormous area known as PDT before you know it. Inside, you can anticipate a carefully curated menu of high-quality seasonal drinks, beer, wine, and, of course, hot dogs.
04. Trouble Bar in Louisville, KY
“Whiskey put me in trouble,” reads the banner at the front of Trouble bar, where it is stocked with bottles of Kentucky liquor, but all the pretentious Bourbon Trail hero worship has been kept outside. Usually takes around 20 minutes to examine the creative journal of the bourbon flight program. The whiskey-industry colleagues of writers Kaitlyn Soligan Owens and Nicole Stipp have scheduled their sampling tours and written extensively on the why of each selection. As something of hors d’oeuvre, the Thursday night deal, a $25 bottle of house ancient, is acceptable. 1149 South Shelby Street —S.R.
03. The Aviary in Chicago, IL
Because molecular gastronomy has become almost associated with Chicago, it was only a matter of time until a high-end lounge brought in a bag of science tricks to give classic cocktails a makeover of their own. It’s no surprise that the first restaurant to do so, The Aviary, is run by the same people that brought you Alinea, one of the world’s most renowned molecular gastronomy destinations. For a memorable impression, expect unnecessarily sophisticated beverages crafted with only the freshest, meticulously chosen, and purchased fresh daily components, as well as needles (you know, to inject your cocktail into a hollow egg of ice).
02. White Limonzeen in Nashville, TN
White Limozeen, named after the twenty-ninth Dolly Parton’s solo album, sits atop the Graduate Hotel’s roof like an extravagant wig. According to Brobible, the drink selection, which includes the magenta-hued Queen of the Rodeo, Champagne Jell-O shots topped with Pop Rocks , and the icy Aperol spritz, and are just a few of the drinks on the menu matches the ambiance (crystal chandeliers and an onyx wraparound bar). With some of its chaise lounges and pink scalloped umbrellas, the vast deck beckons. Guests can relax in the shade of Dolly’s larger-than-life bust, a ten-foot-tall sculpture made of pink chicken wire, or swim, stare out the window over Nashville, or relax in the shadow of Dolly’s larger life bust, a ten-foot-tall artwork made of pink wire mesh. —Beth Ann Fennelly, 101 Twentieth Avenue North
01. Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co in Philadelphia, PA
Do not let the name deceive you. The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., named after the country’s largest beer ring during prohibition, capitalizes on the seemingly endless speakeasy craze. Whether you like gimmicks or not, descending the flight of steps into the softly lit, hidden drinking lair will thrill you with well-made cocktails. Even better, the menu is organized into self-explanatory categories – imagine “Rebellious Spirits” and “Easy Going.” To identify the best bars in America, we looked for venues with a fascinating history, famous bartenders, and, of course, fantastic cocktails.