Photo: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

The 11 Best Cities for Cocktails

by Doni Belau Apr 5, 2016

1. New Orleans

One of the first cities to introduce the very concept of cocktails to the world, New Orleans is also one of the only places in the US where you can carry your drink in a to-go cup to the next bar down the block. Let’s not even get into the drive through daiquiri places, how is that legal?

The Big Easy invented the Sazerac, one of America’s first cocktails. Try one at the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel or have a bubbly French 75 at Arnaud’s classic bar, French 75. For craft cocktails Oxalis in the hipster Bywater area, and check out Bar Tonique in the Quarter, and the Cure uptown.

2. Reykjavik

During the Icelandic winters, the twilight hours are stretched into much longer periods than we are used to, which, lucky for us, means longer cocktail hours!

Slippbarinn changes its cocktail menu monthly at the Iceland Air Rekyavik Marina hotel. You can also drive an hour north to view the Northern Lights with your cocktail of choice at the Northern Lights Bar in the Ion Iceland hotel.

3. Seattle

Bar Canon has the western hemisphere’s largest spirit collection, which numbers 3500 and counting. Try their Mad Bills to Pay gin cocktail made with aperol and apple-coriander beer syrup or their bacon and fig infused bourbon featured in Miss Piggy Takes Fighatttan. In the Capitol Hill district check out the Herb & Bitter Public House with a focus on Italian Amari. Have a look the views from the patio at Westward, located on the water with a Salty Sailor’s Martini in hand.

4. Budapest

Budapest has a unique bar culture that focuses on cool Ruin pubs, which started popping up a over decade ago — the most famous being Szimpla Kert. Found objects and flea market giveaways decorate the many rooms and ceilings and the shockingly low prices are very, very appealing. The streets of Budapest are flooded with Londoners and others in the know heading for the weekend to hit all the top Ruin pubs. Budapest has the cheapest drinks in all of Europe, roughly half the cost of cocktails in Amsterdam.

5. Washington DC

Jack Rose is for those who love whiskey and killer rooftop bars. The award-winning Columbia Room is for cocktail experts and includes a “spirits library” for a more enjoyable type of studying.

6. Mexico City

Mezcal became Mexico City’s liquor of choice dating back to 2005 when the mezcalería La Bótica opened. Now mezcal is nearly as mainstream here as tequila.

Head to Licoreria Limantour, which made it to the top 50 bars list this year or El Estribo, a beautiful patio bar located in a 16th century Hacienda. For a speakeasy experience, hunt down Jules Basement, hidden under a taco place. You enter in through the cooler and walk through a rubber set of curtains. Hang out in the black leather room laced with skulls and drink their Negroni made with Mezcal, of course.

7. Houston

Anvil Bar & Refuge was the town’s first craft cocktail back in 2009. Alba Huerta, Anvil’s former bartender, has since opened both Julep for southern inspired cocktails and the award winning Pastry War (co-owned with Bobby Heugel, also owner of Anvil) with a focus on Mezcal. In addition Eater named Mo Rahmen from Kata Robata — a sushi place serving up cool drinks like a spicy Pimms cup with yuzu — Bartender of the Year.

8. Athens

Hit up Bios, an art and theatre cooperative with its funky bar on a rooftop terrace with views of the Acropolis. You should also try Noel, a bar where it feels like Christmas everyday, or go old school at Brettos where they’ve been mixing classics since 1909.


The dive bars located throughout the city are slowly being replaced with a more refined kind of drinking culture. No need to worry, though, a good number of dive bars are still intact and going strong.

The Aviary is one of the few places in the United States where you can book a five-course cocktail tasting menu profiling molecular mixology. Or score one of just eight tickets to “a cocktail journey” with Paul McGee in the Milk Room . Check out the angostura bitters on tap at Best Intentions with its 70’s rec room décor.

10. Tel Aviv

Imperial Craft bar in the Imperial Hotel mixes everything craft-style using only fresh squeezed juices, home-made syrups, and liquors infused with strictly local herbs and fruit. For an early morning tipple try Minzar, open 24/7 for 22 years and counting. October is the place to go for delicious cocktails, good music, and tasty snacks, and at Tailor Made you can sample a true Israeli cocktail. Their Made in Lebanon Cocktail is similar to a mojito but uses Arak liquor, mint and cucumber.


Bourbon is the drink to be had here in Louisville. It is even believed that a bartender and bourbon enthusiast invented the cocktail called the Old Fashioned, widely considered America’s first cocktail, in Louisville at a private club where he worked back in 1880.

Have a Kentucky Bourbon cocktail at the museum/hotel bar Proof on Main and if you like some music with your cocktail head to Meta set in a former strip club. They serve classic cocktails and invites those on the wagon to sip specially-made French sodas while listening to local bluegrass bands.

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