New bars spring up every week across the country, many opened by cocktail pioneers or up-and-coming bar folk. Summer and early fall usher in some notable newcomers, from a Cuban-themed concept (think Havana’s glory days) from one of the most celebrated bar teams in the world to an under-the-radar ramen bar that dabbles in molecular experimentation with its drinkable cocktails. These are seven new bars (in no particular order) from coast to coast, either just opened or about to open, to consider visiting this fall.
The Dead Rabbit‘s Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon are behind the long-awaitedBlacktail, just opened at the end of August on New York City’s Pier A. So there was no doubt the crowds would come. Then there’s the Cuban, Prohibition-era theme inspired by Havana’s glory days, appealing to everyone from cocktail geek to historian—think potted palms, original photos of Cuba, Cuban antiques and live jazz twice a week.
The gorgeous 88-page, hardbound menu is divided into themes and chapters (would you expect any less from the Dead Rabbit crew?), accompanied by Cuban bites with Spanish and Mexican influences. Choose from more than 40 cocktails created by McGarry, Blacktail head bartender Jesse Vida and beverage director Jillian Vose. The crystal clear Button Hook cocktail is one example of the originality and complexity of Blacktail’s drinks, married to seamless balance, combining blanche armagnac, rhum agricole, Salers gentiane, velvet falernum and a whisper of apricot, cacao, white mint and absinthe.
It may stand for the legendary, scenic California coastal road, but P.C.H. also stands forPacific Cocktail Haven, a San Francisco bar that opened in June in the former Cantina space. It’s already notable because Kevin Diedrich is behind it. Having launched many a great bar in SF, he is known for cocktails that are creative, balanced and ultimately quaffable, showing off every ingredient from chrysanthemum to miso, shiso to saffron.
The Santorini Summer may be one of the most unique cocktails, though subtle and well integrated, featuring Bombay Sapphire East gin with a house tzatziki-style mix of Bols Natural Yoghurt liqueur, a heavy dose of cucumber and whispers of garlic, salt and olive oil. Balanced by citrus and topped off with tonic, it’s a Mediterranean escape.
Chef Todd English is famed for his restaurants, but he’s about to launch his first cocktail-centric concept, The Stinger Cocktail Bar & Kitchen, scheduled to open in October. Cocktail fanatics will care because European bartending great Francesco Lafranconi (currently the spirits educator for Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada) is behind the cocktails.
Located in the InterContinental New York Times Square hotel, The Stinger will offer a drink respite near the Times Square insanity and for pre- and post-show gathering. Rather than the classic cognac and crème de menthe cocktail, its house Stinger refers to the hotel’s rooftop beehives, sourcing fresh honeycomb mixed with Grey Goose Le Citron vodka, lemon and Yellow Chartreuse and topped with a demi-sec mead foam.
Set to open this November in downtown Minneapolis, the Hewing Hotel Rooftop Barwill boast a sixth-floor setting with skyline views, open-to-the-public hours and a year-round, members-only social club, complete with a swimming pool in the summer, which will transform into a hot tub in winter. There will also be a 20-person cedar wood sauna and a roomy patio complete with roaring bonfire to warm those cold Minnesota winters.
The menu created by food and beverage director Ellie Harbeck (formerly at The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee) and Aparium Hotel Group food and beverage director Angela Kuzma will have classic cocktails. But more exciting, and freezing-temperature-appropriate, will be a Nordic aprés-ski influence in the food and drink. Winter cocktails, like the White Spruce Hot Toddy, will be served in a thermos, and house Hot Buttered Rum will be made with freshly churned butter from the restaurant’s kitchen.
Denver’s Sage Restaurant Group just opened modern Asian restaurant and bar Departure (its sister restaurant is in Portland, Ore.), sporting a luxury air-travel theme—think midcentury-modern airports and aeronautical design—with an about-to-open seasonal rooftop lounge gazing out at the Rocky Mountains. Alongside wok-fired, steamed, smoked and grilled Asian fusion dishes, beverage director Brandon Wise (who has been crafting great menus in Denver and Portland for years) has assembled a fine saké and whiskey collection.
Cocktails showcase all manner of Japanese spirits and beyond, whether the Tao of Tanuki, made with shōchū, lime, watermelon, chile salt, basil and soda, or the Piston Honda, made with Hibiki Japanese Harmony whisky, Bonal gentiane apéritif, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters. There are even booze-free offerings, like the tea-based Darjeeling Old Fashioned.
With what may now be the northernmost locale in Manhattan for top-notch cocktails (think Harlem around Broadway and 140th Street), ROKC, which stands for “ramen, oysters, kitchen and cocktails,” opened in May, serving damn good ramen and bao in a charming half-underground, low-key space. But it’s also a cocktail destination (just gaining its liquor license this summer) withAngel’s Share alum Shigefumi Kabashima crafting elegant, harmonious drinks (in true Japanese fashion) that are dramatically served in the likes of lightbulbs and conch shells. Try a cachaça-based Thai tea laced with a touch of absinthe and accompanied by an egg shell shot cradled in a little bird’s nest. This is the kind of playful wonder that awaits at ROKC.
Open this June on Healdsburg, Calif.’s charming town square, Duke’s Spirited Cocktails is already a drinks destination for all of Wine Country, thanks to owners Tara Heffernon, Steven Maduro and Laura Sanfilippo. With sunny picture windows, a skylight and a long bar, the Spoonbar alum set a welcoming tone that makes their expertly crafted drinks taste even better.
There are a number of standouts on the menu, many using ingredients from Heffernon’s farm, including Maduro’s award-winning Rangpur More cocktail. It’s a vibrant garden-fresh mix ofOpihr gin, a house-made rangpur lime shrub, saffron bitters, pink peppercorns and house tonic.
Coast to coast? Really? Otherwise Denver and Minneapolis. So if you don't find Denvers pot culture or NY/Cali to be your cuppa tea - since I assume we don't drink tea or preview head shops here. You're outta luck. What a sell out article. Waste.
I have been to Duke's...nice atmosphere and very good cocktails. Liquor.com....you should take a look at Death & Taxes in Reno. Fantastic atmosphere with fresh and delicious crafted cocktails. Take a look see...