With thousands of unique bars in the US alone, hunting down the best of the best of them is a certainly a tough job. But, hey, someone’s got to do it, and who else would we entrust with such a task than Liquor.com? The feel-good, drink-great digital publication is recognizing the country’s greatest watering holes with their debut of an original annual feature that “celebrates the heartbeat of American drinking culture in-the-moment”: Drink Here Now.
This year, #DRINKHERENOW (Twitter-speak for DHN) features the top 173 ‘Bars That Matter Most, Right Now’ in the nation, chosen with the help of 23 experienced judges. Ultimately, the bars were narrowed down even further by being placed into 12 categories, such as “The Team Players,” “The Experimenters,” and genre bars.
A celebratory soirée was thrown in NYC last week by Liquor.com to honor the top 12 category winning bars, but the party is far from over. Check out the terrific 12 that were awarded below:
The Team Players: ABV – San Francisco, CA
Placing Number 2 out of Drink Here Now’s select 173 bars, ABV has earned the top spot in the “The Team Players” category (bar-staff recognition). The San Franciscan pub is known for its casual and friendly atmosphere, just going to show that a great bar staff goes a long way.
The Experimenters: The Aviary – Chicago, IL
Some of the best innovators in bar culture nest in the Chicagoan-dwelling Aviary. Its state-of-the-art kitchen and gleaming bar area surely inspire their bartenders to craft some of the most artistic drinks we’ve seen in a while.
The New Kids: 27 – Miami Beach, FL
“The New Kids” category exclusively sought newly opened joints, no more than two years old as of March 2015. This recently-established Miami Beach hangout reigns Number 1 over all 173 bars ranked. Not bad for a rookie!
The Survivors: Angel’s Share – New York, NY
One of New York’s long-standing hidden treasures, Angel’s Share is an elegantly intimate parlor that keeps hidden within a Japanese restaurant. No more than four per group are permitted inside, but the romantic vibes and excellent drinks are well worth playing by the rules.
The Neighborhood Bar: Bar Deville – Chicago, IL
We all have our own personal “Neighborhood Bar.” It’s that little spot you always turn to for comfort no matter what the occasion; the place where everybody knows your name. Bar Deville is that place for many Chicagoans. Here, you’re encouraged to order any drink you want, whether it be a fancy schmancy cocktail or a laid-back brew, and dance your pants off at their weekend DJ sets.
Cocktail: Anvil Bar & Refuge – Houston, TX
Everyone in H-Town knows that if you’re looking to enjoy a top-notch craft cocktail amidst a feel-good atmosphere, the answer’s a no-brainer: Anvil Bar & Refuge. The Texan tavern offers gorgeous drinks and a hearty beer selection, all amidst a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere.
Gin Bar: Bathtub Gin NYC – New York, NY
Of all the gin joints in all the world, er, country, the runner up for this category was their sister location, Bathtub Gin Seattle. With Bathtub Gin NYC crowned as the winner of the Genre Bar: Gin category, you know these guys know what they’re doing when it comes to the English spirit.
Irish Bar: The Buena Vista Cafe – San Francisco, CA
With a name like “Buena Vista Cafe,” the title of top Irish bar can be a little puzzling—that is, until you’ve sampled their infamous Irish coffee. Buena Vista has been serving the stuff since the early 19th century, carefully crafting each cup with the aid of an ultra impressive recipe from the ’50s (which supposedly has yet to be altered).
Rum Bar: Caña Rum Bar – Los Angeles, CA
Rum-loving Angelinos opt to pay a $20 annual membership fee to Caña, and in return get access to their extensive rum collection (try 225+ bottles!). Liquor.com suggests a classic Mai Tai or Hemingway Daquiri.
Tequila/Agave Bar: Barrio – Seattle, WA
In addition to tequila and agave-spirited excellence, Barrio’s is a Seattle favorite due to their abundance of American whiskies and Mexican-inspired cuisine. Not to mention, a massive wrap-around bar that houses more than a few bottles of Mezcal.
Tiki Bar: Hale Pele – Portland, ORGlowing, flaming volcano bowls, tropical rainstorms on the hour, and bamboo as far as the eye can see—all within one colorful rainbow of a bar called Hale Pele. It’s Portland, would you expect anything less?
Whisk(e)y: The Brandy Library – New York, NY
Educate yourself when it comes to brandy and beyond by paying a visit to The Brandy Library. Instead of books, they’ve got bottles, and instead of stuffy librarians, all-knowing bartenders. You’re going to want to sign up for that library card after checking out this place (and no late fees!).