25 Best Cocktail Bars In The US

For people who enjoy the art of drinking, there's no place like a cocktail bar. These establishments known for bartenders who mix craft drinks with precision are destinations for alcohol enthusiasts looking to learn the best way they know how — through taste. Whether it's a speakeasy replicating Prohibition classics or an upscale lounge with modern recipes, cocktail bars have serious charm. 

The U.S. is full of cocktail bars that are more than worth the trip. Some are single-handedly responsible for reviving a city's bar culture or getting trends started. Other spots are serving amazing drinks that shouldn't be discounted for their novelty. So, we decided to give the drink enthusiasts a checklist of some of the best cocktail bars around the U.S. While this is far from a complete list of the best cocktail bars in the country, it's a great starting point for those who are passionate about drinking and travel combined.

Clover Club: New York City

Open since 2008, New York City's Clover Club has become a legendary spot in the city for classic cocktails. The bar was opened by the duo behind Pegu Club, another famous cocktail bar in the city, and the drinks live up to the reputation.

This spot is named after a 19th-century gin cocktail that was born in Philadelphia, and is a menu staple today. The menu is divided based on the types of drinks, from martinis to punch bowls to sours. The open bar isn't pretentious or exclusive, with plenty of places to sit and many ways to explore the best expressions of classic drinks you may not have had before. 

Canon: Seattle

Canon Bar in Seattle boasts what is likely the largest spirits collection in the U.S. with 4,000 different labels and counting. The menu for spirits spans over 90 pages. Not only is the selection of spirits impressive, but the execution of the drinks is top-notch. Canon serves drinks in whimsical glassware resembling everyday objects like sunscreen bottles, potted cacti, and takeout boxes. 

The visuals of its four-page cocktail menu match each drink's balanced flavor. Patrons looking to try something new should check out vintage libations with some of the oldest spirits in the bar. Be warned: some of those cocktails can cost up to $750 for one drink, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime sip. 

Broken Shaker: Miami

Broken Shaker is a cocktail institution with locations in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, but its flagship Miami bar is not to be missed. The vibe of the Broken Shaker is a backyard barbecue by the pool but with James Beard Award-nominated cocktails. The bar, which started as a pop-up, has a rotating menu based on what's in season. It's common to see bartenders making alcohol infusions or pressing fruit for drinks. Whether you order a house cocktail for yourself or a punch bowl for the table, the first sip will help you understand how the Broken Shaker helped develop Miami's craft cocktail scene. 

Kumiko: Chicago

Kumiko in Chicago has been a destination for food and drink lovers since it opened in 2018. The food is worth praise, but the drinks truly rival the cuisine. Kumiko has a flight of cocktails that expresses updated versions of classic drinks. Each drink features a sake pairing in or alongside the drink for a truly boozy experience. 

The alcohol-free drink recipes are also complex, a plus for those seeking a cocktail bar experience without the alcohol. Kumiko is undoubtedly a bar with drinks you won't find anywhere else, like its Cloud Hopper featuring Chiyonosono rice shochu, Fidencio mezcal, seasonal fruit, green cardamom, oat milk, Yakult, and lemon. 

Smuggler's Cove: San Francisco

Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco is the quintessential tiki cocktail bar every rum fan should visit at least once in their lifetime. Since opening in 2009, this bar has the vibe down, from the decor to the cocktails. The menu features more than 80 drinks in a cocktail menu that reads like a book and includes both classics and modern takes that are made with fresh and house-made ingredients. It's a tiny bar with a festive and fun atmosphere yet one that still manages to stock 550 different rums on any given day.

Cure: New Orleans

Open since 2009, Cure is another pioneering cocktail bar that's helped revitalize its neighborhood with great drinks and a welcoming vibe. The local's bar has become a destination for craft cocktail enthusiasts and those looking to make it big in the bar business. It's no surprise the bar won the James Beard Award for "Outstanding Bar Program" in 2018. 

The drinks here are one-of-a-kind, especially the reserve cocktails made with super-premium spirits like the Extra Fancy Sazerac, made with Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, Peychaud's bitters, Nouvelle Orleans absinthe, and lemon peel

Teardrop Lounge: Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon's Teardrop Lounge is another long-standing bar, as it first opened in 2007. The bar is the ideal destination for something different, but the folks at Teardrop Lounge aren't pretentious about it. The eight-page cocktail menu features a glossary of drinking terms for novices. Therefore, when a customer orders an Italian Job, they know all of the ingredients from the Old Tom gin to the Strega liqueur. The horseshoe-shaped bar also promotes conversation with the bartenders so you can learn everything from the basics of bartending to reaching the limits of cocktail creation. 

Drink: Boston

Drink has been dedicated to its name since it opened in 2008. It's an atypical cocktail bar as there isn't a menu or a back bar filled with bottles for customers to contemplate. Instead, Drink encourages conversation between the bartender and the customer to get the right drink started. Customers can order classic cocktails or describe their ideal flavor profile to be treated with a surprise sipper. It's the kind of place where you can take your time enjoying the complex flavors of a drink while learning all about it.

Velveteen Rabbit: Las Vegas

The Velveteen Rabbit is an immersive fairytale combined with a wacky cocktail bar. The Rabbit is located away from the Strip in the Arts District of Las Vegas, but it's more than worth the ride to visit. The house-made drinks are whimsical in name, ingredients, and presentation, which matches the trippy decor and the wondrously quirky pink patio. The cocktails embrace this absurdity, and the seasonal menu features some of the freshest flavors possible to allow the bartenders' imaginations to run wild. 

Yacht Club: Denver

Denver's landlocked Yacht Club sounds like a bar with an identity crisis, but this spot proudly owns its status as an anti-club where you can get unique cocktails and fortified wine, or unpretentious classics like a Jack Daniel's and Coke and a hot dog. 

It might sound abnormal to seek out beach drinks in the middle of Denver, but the bar lives comfortably in the outrageous. It's the kind of place to order something different, like the Fourth Color cocktail with Hendricks gin, Macvin, carrot, plum, bergamot, fig leaf, and peat. Since opening in 2021, the Yacht Club has made a boozy impact. 

The Roosevelt Room: Austin

Opened in 2015, The Roosevelt Room is an award-winning cocktail bar in Austin's Warehouse District that's housed in a building from the 1920s. The bar serves up inventive iterations of classic drinks that are as much a visual feast as they are a delight for your tastebuds. For instance, the Death Valley looks like an unassuming bottle of Topo Chico, but it hides a shot of Kubler absinthe. Another favorite is the Cigar Box, served on an ashtray with a smoked cinnamon stick. Those are just two of the 80 drinks and counting served in the Roosevelt Room, and it seems like you really can't go wrong with any of them. 

Allegory: Washington, D.C.

Debuting in April 2022, Allegory is a hidden gem in Washington, D.C. that is more than a cocktail bar — it's also an immersive storytelling experience. The art in the bar matches the menu, which itself reads like a book with chapters containing themed cocktails. The story is a mashup of "Alice in Wonderland" and the real tale of civil rights activist Ruby Bridges, the first Black child to integrate into Louisiana's public school system in 1960 New Orleans. Allegory's menu spans 23 pages with 12 chapters of themed drinks.

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company: Philadelphia

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company sounds more like a business than a bar, but the Philadelphia establishment is named after the largest alcohol ring in the Prohibition-era U.S., so it's supposed to sound discreet. 

The bar is part of a boutique hotel with a speakeasy vibe. The Art Deco-themed establishment serves up a full menu of innovative cocktails and food bites that match the vibe of the bar. Whether you opt for a house cocktail — like the La Dolce Vita with Amaro, dulce de leche, coconut, lemon, egg whites, and cola — or a flight of caviar and bubbles, Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company is one of Philly's finest bars. 

Biltong Bar: Atlanta

Atlanta's Biltong Bar is a cocktail joint like no other, located at the Central Food Hall of Ponce City Market. The South African-style joint serves up booze and beef jerky known as biltong, a traditional snack from the region. The cocktail menu is as fun as the food fare with cocktails including gummy sharks or Angostura cotton candy and appletini jello shots. And if you're looking for a craft cocktail made with more classic rum or whiskey, the folks behind the bar are well-equipped to serve you top-notch drinks to accompany your carnivorous feast. 

Water Witch: Salt Lake City

Water Witch is another cocktail bar that embraces the weird. The Salt Lake City spot garnered plenty of hype before opening in 2016 but has been able to maintain that stamina through accolades like a James Beard Award nomination in 2022. The bar, which is named after one of the original yachts from the 19th-century Salt Lake City yacht club, has a seasonal menu that is full of surprises. 

Cocktail ingredients here range from familiar to unusual, with atypical ingredients like beets and caramelized onion. The warm, welcoming environment will entice you, but the tasty cocktails and knowledgeable bar staff will encourage you to linger and cement this place as one of your new favorite bars. 

Harlowe: Los Angeles

Walking into Harlowe in Los Angeles is like stepping back into the Golden Era of Hollywood. It's the epitome of the time, from the decor to the drinks to the supper club menu. It's also a cocktail bar that doubles as a nightclub, which means the drinks are lightyears more delicious than at the average club with bottle service. While the bar is always prepared to whip up a classic cocktail, they also have some interesting house drinks worth exploring. One option is the Firestarter made with Madre mezcal, green bell pepper, Thai basil, Strega, Falernum, lemon, salt and pepper tincture, and fire water. 

The Vault: Cleveland

The Vault in Cleveland is one of the most historically rich bars on the list. It's nestled in the old vault of the Cleveland Trust Rotunda, the first bank building in the city. In the modern era, it's now the chic bar at the bottom of the 9 Hotel that serves food and drinks. 

The cocktail menu includes classics like the Aviation or Boulevardier, but there are also house drinks like the Lakeshore Lemonade made with Maker's Mark or a spicy bourbon sidecar with Woodford Reserve. Regardless of your order, the drink is sure to accompany the visual feast as you embrace the history embedded in your surroundings.

The Patterson House: Nashville

The Patterson House has been a relaxing reprieve in a city that feels like a permanent party. This cocktail lounge is all about the drinks, as there are no TVs on the walls and cell phones are discouraged. That way, the attention is all on the old and new cocktails being created behind the bar. 

Here, a bar seat is the most coveted spot in the house to watch drinks like the Childlike Wonder or the Penny For Your Thoughts being crafted in real-time. As long as you have an open mind, it's hard to leave this bar without having learned something new about craft cocktails. 

Bar Leather Apron: Honolulu

It might be hard to imagine a leather-filled whiskey bar in tropical Hawaii, but that's only for those who have never been to Honolulu's Bar Leather Apron. The intimate cocktail bar, which opened in 2015, has 500 types of whiskey available, so it's nearly impossible for even regulars to try everything. 

This 2023 James Beard Award-winning bar makes drinks that span far beyond just whiskey, however, like the E Ho'o Pau Mai Tai, which includes raisin-infused El Dorado rum, coconut water syrup, spiced Orgeat, vanilla, Ohia blossom honey, lime, absinthe, and Kiawe wood smoke. Other unique drinks include a Matcha Old Fashioned or the El Umami, made with El Tesoro tequila, mezcal, bergamot, strawberry, tomato, and sea salt. 

The Gin Joint: Charleston

Charleston's Gin Joint is a southern belle of a cocktail bar with a menu that can please even the most indecisive customer. The "Bartender's Choice" option encourages the customer to pick two adjectives (like "vegetal," "smoky," or "boozy") to allow the bartender to make you a drink that fits the bill. 

As you might expect from the name, gin is king here. However, the bar includes plenty of top-shelf cocktail options for tequila, mezcal, rye, and more. The bar also has mouth-watering bites like boiled peanuts or whipped bone marrow to help soak up the multiple cocktails you'll be tempted to try. 

Volstead Emporium: Minneapolis

Volstead Emporium is another speakeasy where things are never what they seem. The Minneapolis bar, which you can find thanks to a lone red light above a basement door, is a haven for cocktail lovers who appreciate something a little off-kilter. The bar, which features live music and a hearty food menu, has an expansive drinks list. Sure, you can get a classic Manhattan or try something new like a Booty Bump made with Redemption rye, Norseman apricot, lemon, grapefruit, honey demerara, and a splash of beer. It's the kind of bar that isn't shy about doing a rose petal rim on your glass or serving you a drink topped with flames, making it an all-around experience. 

Anvil: Houston

Anvil is a cocktail bar that has it all. Known for its list of 100 classic cocktails, the bar has a 70+ page menu of spirits, including a significant amount of tequila and mezcal. The bar, housed in a converted 1950s tire store, used 100 cocktails to train bartenders. However, it's since become a fun way for customers to explore the classics. Anvil also has a seasonal cocktail menu to keep things fresh, but it would be hard to be bored with the high-energy bar and many delicious drink options often served in vintage glassware. 

Portland Hunt and Alpine: Portland, Maine

Portland's Hunt and Alpine Club opened in 2013 with the uncommon idea of serving Scandinavian and Alpine-style food with James Bead Award-nominated cocktails. The food menu is as animated as the atmosphere, featuring Finnish meatballs and tinned fish, but the cocktail menu is a character of its own. It includes to-go cocktails for two and features an entire section for "Negroni-ish" drinks for those who fancy something stiff. The Hunt and Alpine Club also serves a daily punch with rotating flavors that is available as a shot or a cocktail, as well as a mysterious "Bartender's Choice" cocktail for $15 of a sippable surprise. 

The Sugar House: Detroit

The Sugar House prides itself as Detroit's first craft cocktail bar, opening in 2011 in the Corktown neighborhood. The menu features 101 classic drinks that bartenders are expected to master, as well as seasonal options for something new. It's the ideal bar if you want to learn more about drinking. 

The Sugar House offers house single-barrel whiskey selections if one of the 101 classics like the Absinthe Frappe or a Singapore Sling doesn't suit your fancy.  The bar also serves up plenty of small plates to help to soak up all the alcohol you're bound to consume on your visit. 

Platform 18: Phoenix

Platform 18 qualifies more as an experience than a typical bar. This Phoenix spot is a train-themed bar that uses window-framed screens to make you feel like you're on a moving train car. Staff members aren't afraid to get into character, either. 

Like the decor, the drink menu of Platform 18 is inspired by the 1930s, with more than 40 different cocktails that include unique drinks such as the Clarified Milk Punch. Each passenger gets a glass of bubbly at the beginning of their ride to set the tone of this one-of-a-kind boozy adventure.