I'm not saying that these are the only great craft cocktail bars in American. I'm not even saying that these are the best. I am, however, giving a short list of transcendantly great craft cocktail bars that I think help define the genre at its best.
The place that got the speakeasy trend started still has some of the best cocktails in town, along with a suprisingly original, Croatian-inflected menu courtesy of chef Julia Jaksic. The crowd gets oppressive though.
The house cocktails are world class at this most elaborately secretive of all New York speakeasies. But I go there to have perfect Manhattans, Sazeracs, and Vieux Carre's.
It's almost impossible to find without specific instructions, but the effort is more than worthwhile to get into this one of a kind cocktail bar, whose strong and imaginative drinks fuel the sexy, romantic, secretive vibe here.
Philly's best craft cocktail bar is built on the site of an old bank -- an urbane, subversive space that is definitely "money."
A blue light alone indicates this proto-speakeasy, the pride of Alexandria, and one of the best craft cocktail bars in the country.
Bar Tonique is technically in the French Quarter, but it's the old, dreamy, decadent French Quarter of the old days, not the revolting, vulgar Bourbon Street mess of today. Come here for a Vieux Carre and listen to cool modern music. It's the best bar in New Orleans.
The bar area is rich in great bars, including many craft cocktail bars, but for the true spirits nerd, there is no substitute for Bar Agricole, which is a center for the mixological community in Northern California. It's fun, too, and perfect for dates.
The nascent craft cocktail scene in Nashville has a true jewel in Patterson House, a speakeasy with spot-on renditions of all the classics and some brilliant originals as well.
The minute that word got out Grant Achatz was doing a bar, the entire cocktail world turned its eyes to Chicago. And they were right to, because this small bar is doing some of the most innovative drinks you'll ever have.