Special Report

The Best Bars in America Right Now

Courtesy of Thunderbolt via Yelp

If you’ve spent any time in bars, you already know that some are better than others. Some are sketchy, some are merely good, some are great.

What makes a bar great? In many ways, you know a great bar when you see one. Sure, the drinks need to be well-made, the beer fresh and cold, the bartenders friendly and knowledgeable, and the decor inviting, but a great bar feels like a special place the moment you walk in the door, and you feel special when you’re there. At a great bar, there’s a feeling of what the Germans call “Gemütlichkeit” – warmth, friendliness, social acceptance, a sense of well-being, and an overall vibe of good cheer. These are the best global cities for bars. 

Great bars function as what sociologist Ray Oldenburg called the “third place.” The “first place” is the home, the “second place” is the workplace, and the “third place” is the anchor of community life, a home away from home where people go to socialize and relax. A great bar, like TV’s Cheers, with its regulars and welcoming atmosphere, fits the bill to a tee. (Cheers is one of the most iconic fictional bars in history.) 

There are obviously many different types of bars –– dive bars, Irish pubs, tiki bars, swanky cocktail lounges –– and each has slightly different criteria for greatness. Housemade bitters and a perfect Corpse Reviver No. 2 aren’t exactly necessary at a great dive bar, and a cheap shot & beer special isn’t required at a bar renowned for its cocktails. A great bar knows exactly what category it falls into, and strives to be that type’s Platonic ideal. (If pricey cocktails don’t interest you, consider the best dive bar in every state.)

To determine the best bars in America for 2022, 24/7 Tempo reviewed “North America’s 50 Best Bars,” compiled by 50 Best, a brand owned by the U.K.-based media company William Reed, extrapolating the bars in the U.S.

Click here to see the best bars in America right now

The bars on this list tend to be cocktail specialists, better known for their creative potions than for their array of craft beers or wines by the glass (though some do quite well in those spheres, too). Crafting the perfect cocktail is no easy feat – it’s a cross between chemistry, alchemy, and the culinary arts – but these bars do it with aplomb, and serve the results in environs that will make you want to return time and again. (These are the world’s 25 most popular cocktails.)

Source: Courtesy of Thang T. via Yelp

29. Genever
> Location: Los Angeles
> Sample cocktail: Pinoygroni (mango-pineapple-lemongrass-hibiscus-infused gin, coconut-oil-washed sweet vermouth, Campari, ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters)

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Source: Courtesy of Adrian P. via Yelp

28. Teardrop Lounge
> Location: Portland (OR)
> Sample cocktail: Hell or High Water (Jameson Irish whiskey, Giffard crème de pêche, Bénédictine, Dolin dry vermouth, lemon, egg white)

Source: Courtesy of Krystle M. via Yelp

27. Julep
> Location: Houston
> Sample cocktail: Bayou City Bandit (rye whiskey, apple brandy, Amaro Montenegro, Cocchi di Torino, Tropical Bitters, lemon oil)

Source: Courtesy of Amanda A. via Yelp

26. Bitter & Twisted
> Location: Phoenix
> Sample cocktail: Lemongrass Collins (vodka, lemongrass, vanilla, lemon, ginger beer)

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25. Clover Club
> Location: Brooklyn
> Sample cocktail: Clover Club (gin, dry vermouth, raspberry syrup, lemon, egg white)

Source: Courtesy of Maryanne D. via Yelp

24. Bar Leather Apron
> Location: Honolulu
> Sample cocktail: Yuzu Mojito (Cor Cor Red Okinawan Rum, yuzu, lime, mint, grapefruit soda, kinako soy flour)

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Source: Courtesy of Blair A. via Yelp

23. ABV
> Location: San Francisco
> Sample cocktail: Tangerine Dream (Leopold Bros. “25” Gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters, tangerine oil)

Source: Courtesy of Matt C. via Yelp

22. Death & Co (Denver)
> Location: Denver
> Sample cocktail: Monkey’s Fist (Monkey 47 Gin, carrot eau-de-vie, passion fruit, coconut, lemon juice)

Source: Courtesy of Tracey X. via Yelp

21. Mace
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Licorice (caramelized-onion-infused cachaça, almond cream, licorice syrup, egg)

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Source: Courtesy of RA B. via Yelp

20. Death & Co (Los Angeles)
> Location: Los Angeles
> Sample cocktail: Escape from L.A. (François Voyer VS cognac, Batavia arrack, calamansi, miso, lemon)

Source: Courtesy of Andrew C. via Yelp

19. Friends and family
> Location: Oakland (CA)
> Sample cocktail: Papa Bear (rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, B&B, bitters, cherries)

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Source: Courtesy of Eve S. via Yelp

18. Broken Shaker (Miami)
> Location: Miami
> Sample cocktail: Shaker-Hopper (Ford’s Gin, crème do cacao, crème de menthe, Fernet coconut-milk foam)

Source: Courtesy of Calvin L. via Yelp

17. The Dead Rabbit
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Psycho Killer (Irish whiskey, Campari, cacao, banana, absinthe)

Source: Courtesy of S S. via Yelp

16. Employees Only
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Ginger Smash (muddled ginger and fresh pineapple, rum, apple liqueur, maraschino, lemon juice)

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Source: Courtesy of William P. via Yelp

15. Herbs & Rye
> Location: Las Vegas
> Sample cocktail: Hemingway Daiquiri (rum, maraschino, lime, grapefruit)

Source: Courtesy of Edward W. via Yelp

14. Overstory
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Gyokuro Martini (vodka, gyokuro green tea, vermouth)

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Source: Courtesy of Vivian C. via Yelp

13. Dear Irving
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Deacon Blues (small-batch bourbon, crème de cacao, raspberry, lemon)

Source: Courtesy of James R. via Yelp

12. Jewel of the South
> Location: New Orleans
> Sample cocktail: Night Tripper (Four Roses bourbon, amaro, Strega, Peychaud’s Bitters)

11. Amor y Amargo
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: 8 Amaro Sazerac (eight kinds of amaro, Peychaud’s Bitters, orange bitters, green Chartreuse)

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Source: Courtesy of Neil T. via Yelp

10. Raised by Wolves
> Location: San Diego
> Sample cocktail: Sundress (vodka, Thai basil eau-de-vie, dry vermouth, pandan, lime, seltzer)

Source: Courtesy of Service Bar via Yelp

9. Service Bar
> Location: Washington, D.C.
> Sample cocktail: Viking Mistress (aquavit, bergamot, Aqua di Cedro liqueur, clarified citrus, sweet Italian vermouth, coriander

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Source: Courtesy of Angie T. via Yelp

8. Double Chicken Please
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Japanese Cold Noodle (white rum, pineapple, cucumber, coconut, lime, sesame oil)

Source: Courtesy of Tanuj K. via Yelp

7. Sweet Liberty
> Location: Miami
> Sample cocktail: The Florida Cocktail (Bacardi Añejo Cuatro, fresh lime, fluffy pineapple, crème de menthe)

Source: Courtesy of Thunderbolt via Yelp

6. Thunderbolt
> Location: Los Angeles
> Sample cocktail: Echo Park Trash Can (LO-FI Amaro, cognac, cacao, orange, coconut, vanilla)

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5. Dante
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Dante’s Garibaldi (Campari, fluffy orange juice)

Source: Courtesy of Café La Troya via Facebook

4. Café La Troya
> Location: Miami
> Sample cocktail: Hotel Nacional (rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup)

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Source: Courtesy of Megan K. via Yelp

3. Kumiko
> Location: Chicago
> Sample cocktail: Hanamizake Martini (Rihei Ginger Shōchū, Kitaya Tokubetsu Junmai-shu, Mancino Sakura Vermouth, Hakuto Gin, and Suze Red Bitters)

Source: Courtesy of Christina R. via Yelp

2. Katana Kitten
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Amaretto Sour (Wild Turkey Rye, amaretto, salted plum, honey, lemon, egg white, yukari [shiso rice seasoning])

Source: Courtesy of Matt C. via Yelp

1. Attaboy
> Location: New York City
> Sample cocktail: Paper Plane (bourbon, Italian orange bitters, amaro, lemon juice)

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