Mad Men rightfully gets credit for depicting the delightfully nostalgic art of refined drinking—be it three-Martini lunches, putting the Sidecar back on the map or showing off the ease and sophistication of the home bar cart. And while sales of portable bar carts had a bump in sales due to the late television show, having a professional bartender to properly execute the cocktails is that much better. What’s better than allowing the drinks come to you? These are nine establishments across the U.S. offering tableside bar service, Don Draper approved.
At Bourbon Steak, the bar team decided that a standout cocktail deserved a standout presentation. The presentation of making the Monkey Business cocktail ($15) involves smoking cloves into shot glasses before pouring in Monkey Shoulder scotch and Drambuie over ice. For garnish, brûléed banana slices topped with freshly grated nutmeg are also prepared tableside.
Because brunch means Bloody Marys and everyone seems to have a preference for what should go in theirs, El Bolero offers its guests a way to build the “perfect” Bloody ($10) during weekend brunch, allowing them to tailor it to their specifications. First, vodka is served in an oversize glass; next, they choose a Bloody Mary base, one being the popular green Bloody Mary mix made with tomatillo, celery and cilantro, among other ingredients. Next, the extras: celery, pickled okra, blue-cheese-stuffed olives, caper berries, pepperoncini and an array of hot sauces.
It might be a little strange to find tableside Margaritas ($14) at a popular Chicago pizzeria and bar, but why knock it? Guests can choose from fruit depending on the season (think pineapple, blueberry and orange), garnishes (like cilantro and mint) and tequila, including Don Julio blanco, añejo or reposado. The combinations are seemingly endless.
At Spoke & Steele, tableside service comes in many forms, offering cocktails from the regular bar menu plus large-format libations, like the signature punch bowl service served in vintage glassware, also available via the cocktail cart. Beverage director Tyler Burns has created a punch menu that practically invites group drinking, like the Sharing Is Caring, made with Fords gin, tea simple syrup, Carpano vermouth, grapefruit, lemon, club soda and bubbles, and the Beach Bum, made with Flor de Caña rum, Monte Alban tequila, Metaxa, pineapple and orange juice, orgeat and raspberry. The price for a half bowl (approximately 20 cups) is $100; full bowl (approximately 40 drinks) is $200.
The only thing better than a Mimosa is an endless one and with that in mind, Andiron Steak & Sea offers bottomless bubbles with its brunch Champagne Cart. It’s stocked with all the ingredients needed to create all-you-can-drink classic Mimosas, white peach Bellinis and grapefruit and sage fizzes (with any of these all morning for $19). For traditionalists, there’s unlimited Campo Viejo cava ($29) and Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut ($49). For $19, guests can have as much of any of the above as they like all morning long.
To really elevate its tableside service experience, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse has something special for guests looking for a rare experience (and willing to shell out a pretty penny for it). Spirits expert and manager Josh Stanko offers a variety of handpicked blends and vintages of some of the most exclusive bottles of Armagnac found in America, including Louis XIII Rare Cask (one of only two in NYC) and Pappy Van Winkle. Tableside pours of Louis XIII Rare Cask are available to guests for $1,395 an ounce or $2,790 for two ounces. Guests are also able to drink their birth year with a selection of Château de Laubade vintages ranging from 1967 to 1982 (sorry, millenials!).
The creation of Devon Espinosa and Rob Floyd, The Church Key has found a way to indulge the kid in all of us. Its tableside Odder Popsare adult ice pops, offered each night for $10 a pop made with liquid nitrogen and featuring a constantly rotating flavor list that changes with the season and even holidays. The restaurant has served icy versions of everything from Margaritas and Peppermint Juleps to Irish Coffee. Currently on the menu are the Fresh Watermelon and Tequila Odder Pops.
At new chef-driven steakhouse Swift & Sons, the bar team has both a martini cart and Champagne cart on hand. The cocktail prices are the same as ordering from the bar, but who would want to do that? Consider the Vesper Moderne ($26), made with Tanqueray Old Tom gin, Ketel One vodka, house-made vermouth and preserved Buddha’s hand, or opt for bubbles—Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon are all on hand.
Las Vegas, in all of its bright, gaudy splendor, practically invites over-the-top eating and drinking. Jardin’s cocktail cart service fits this bill with dinnertime Moscow Mule cart service ($16 per glass, $125 for the table), a way for diners to customize a large-format cocktail just the way they want. (What better way to drink with friends?) The vodka, lime and ginger beer cocktail comes with an assortment of flavored vodkas, garnishes and syrups, including lemongrass-ginger, lavender and orange-cranberry flavors.