People travel for all kinds of reasons. Some like to hike breathtaking trails; others are searching for the world’s best cup of coffee. For people in the bar and restaurant industry, one of the top reasons to travel is to visit iconic bars.
We caught up with eight people in the industry — bartenders, managers, and brand ambassadors — to learn what bar they would travel around the world to visit. Go ahead and add these places to your must-visit list.
1. Café No Se in Antigua, Guatemala
“Without hesitation, I would travel to Café No Se in Antigua, Guatemala,” Rael Petit, the beverage director at The Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn, says. “The bar is a dive, known for being the birthplace of Ilegal Mezcal, a small batch, artisanal tequila — one of my favorites.”
Café No Se “has a special place in my heart,” Petit says, thanks to the bar staff, the live music, and a hidden bar in the back for mezcal shots.
2. Liberty Bar in Seattle, Washington
“One bar that I would travel across the world to visit is Liberty Bar in Seattle,” Joseph Bennett, the bar manager at Fine & Rare in New York City, says. “Not only do they have some of the best sushi in the city, they have a top-notch spirit selection and some of the best cocktails in the country. All this is set in the backdrop of a hole-in-the-wall, rock-and-roll bar on a quiet street on Capitol Hill. No matter how busy it is, you feel like you’re in a hidden gem. The staff is friendly, educated, and always ready to geek out about all things spirits.”
Bennett also adds, “If you find grunge romantic, you might meet your future spouse on the bar seat next to you.”
3. Dukes Bar in London
“There’s something magical about being served by a living legend with decades of experience,” Anthony Bohlinger, a brand ambassador for Sailor Jerry, says. For him, that magic is “a classic Martini served in an environment such as Dukes by Alessandro, a man that exudes a class of customer service few can strive for. There is a beauty when you get the right drink by the right human in the perfect atmosphere; it’s a total euphoric experience to have.”
Getting the Dukes Martini right is no small feat, as it’s a drink with a very specific method of preparation.
4. The Little Red Door in Paris
“I love Little Red Door in Paris and would fly there from New York just for a night of drinks,” Johnny Swet, bartender and co-owner of JIMMY at The James in New York City, says. “Everything from the entrance in the quirky Marais district to the inventive cocktails contributes to an unforgettable experience. As an artist myself, I love that they present the menu in the form of an art book instead of a traditional list. The cocktails themselves are amazing — very complex, but every ingredient seems to contribute to the drink without adding too much. The bar staff is also extremely confident and professional while still being super friendly and welcoming.”
5. The Devil’s Advocate in Edinburgh
“On a recent trip to the UK and a quick stop in Edinburgh, I found The Devil’s Advocate located down a narrow walkway off the main road,” Cameron Mealey, the manager at Bayside Restaurant in Newport Beach, California, says. “They have more than enough whiskies to keep you there, but it’s their cocktail menu that will have me coming back for more!”
Mealey recommends the Doha Date (Balvenie 12 Year Old, Amaro Montenegro, Arabian dates, and Xocolatl bitters) and the Beet You to Miyagikyo (Nikka From the Barrel Japanese Whisky, Mount Gay Black Barrel, beetroot, lemon, and cucumber bitters).
“The ambience is amazing as well,” Mealey says. “All this talk has me wanting to go back now… excuse me while I look at plane tickets!”
6. Apotek Kitchen & Bar in Reykjavik
Apotek Kitchen & Bar is a favorite of Trevor Schneider, a brand ambassador for Reyka Vodka, “because they go above and beyond delivering a next level of hospitality,” he says. “Some may even call it the Viking Royalty treatment.”
7. Bacchanal in New Orleans
There are many, many bars to choose from in New Orleans. Some are open 24/7, some are the diviest of the dives, and others specialize in frozen drinks. For Jessica Weinstein, the beverage director for Jamie Leeds Restaurant Group in New England, nothing beats Bacchanal.
Bacchanal “will always be one of the most magical spaces,” Weinstein says. “Every time I go there I’m surrounded by positive people and things I love like music, wine, and cheese.”
It’s truly a bar where you go for the well-curated wine and cheese options and stay for the live jazz.
8. Cheers in Boston
Sometimes, all the specialty cocktail menus in the world can’t compete with nostalgia.
“I would definitely travel to Boston for a chance to have a drink at Cheers,” David Crockett, the manager at Bistango in Irvine, California, says. “Growing up watching the iconic show, I think it would be cool to walk into a piece of bartending and TV history.”