15 Bars to Visit Before You Die
Contributed by Anna Archibald
Posted Aug 19, 2013
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One of the great joys of traveling is having a cocktail at an amazing bar, and we’ve had some truly unforgettable experiences. Over the years, we’ve begun to keep a list of establishments that all drinkers should visit at least once in their lifetimes.

From a bar in Sweden made completely out of ice to a faux-speakeasy in New York, here are 15 awe-inspiring watering holes that should be on your bucket list.

Safe travels!

(Have you been to any of these bars? Are there any others that we should check out? Tell us on Facebook!)

Dukes Bar, London

Hidden down a tiny street in London, this famed bar in the Dukes Hotel is a must for Martini lovers. James Bond creator Ian Fleming was a regular; it’s where he ordered the classic Martini variant the Vesper, which made an appearance in Casino Royale. Not in the mood for cocktails? The hotel also offers a cognac and cigar garden.

35-36 St. James’s Place
London, England
Tel: 44 0207 491 4840

(Photo courtesy Alessandro Palazzi)

PDT, New York

The secret telephone-booth entrance to this award-winning East Village speakeasy (the name stands for Please Don’t Tell) is worth a visit alone, but the cocktails are world-class. The establishment is overseen by top mixologist and Liquor.com advisory board member Jim Meehan, and managed by cocktail champion Jeff Bell. You’ll enter through neighboring hot-dog joint Crif Dogs, and once inside the bar, you can even order dogs and tater tots with your drinks.

113 St Marks Place
New York, NY
Tel: 212 614 0386

(Photo courtesy Michael Taft)

El Floridita, Havana

This historic Havana bar has been open since 1817 and was run for years by master mixologist Constante Ribalaigua Vert. It was also a favorite of Ernest Hemingway’s, and it was here, according to legend, that the iconic Hemingway Daiquiri was invented. So if you find yourself in Cuba, you need to order one of its five Daiquiri options and toast Papa.

557 Obispo
Havana, Cuba
Tel: 53 7 867 1300

(Photo courtesy Historic Photos of Ernest Hemingway, Turner Publishing)

Bar High Five, Tokyo

Bartending isn’t just a job in Japan but also a respected art form. And one of the best places to experience this kind of service is at Tokyo’s intimate Bar High Five, which is run by all-star mixologist Hidetsugu Ueno. There’s no formal cocktail menu at the bar, but Ueno is known for his take on the White Lady—no matter what you end up ordering, it will surely be delicious.

No. 26 Polestar Building, Ginza 7-2-14
Tokyo, Japan
Tel: 81 3 3571 5815

The Hemingway Bar, Paris

While France may be best known for its amazing wines, The Hemingway Bar, located inside the deluxe Hotel Ritz in Paris, has attracted worldwide acclaim for its cocktail menu. All-star bartender Colin Field ran the establishment for decades and developed an international following. The bar (and the hotel) are currently closed for renovations, but they’re set to reopen in December of 2014 with Field once again behind the stick.

15 Place Vendôme
Paris, France
Tel: 33 01 43 16 30 30

Salvatore at Playboy, London

Every drinker needs to have Salvatore Calabrese make him or her a cocktail at least once. The master mixologist has worked at several top London bars and now runs his eponymous lounge at the city’s private Playboy Club. (Don’t worry; the bar is open to the public.) Not only are Calabrese’s drinks delicious, but he also has an amazing collection of vintage cognacs and other spirits on hand. In 2012, he was awarded the Guinness World Record for mixing the world’s oldest and most expensive cocktail.

14 Old Park Lane
London, England
Tel: 44 0207 491 8586

Quaich Bar, Craigellachie, Scotland

There are Scotch bars and then there’s the Quaich. It is lined from floor to ceiling with shelves holding nearly 700 different bottles of whisky. As you can imagine, the menu is huge and it takes some time to choose a dram. The establishment is located on the River Spey in the heart of Scotch-distilling country. It’s less than 5 miles from where The Macallan, Glenfiddich and The Glenrothes (among others) are made.

Craigellachie Hotel
Victoria Street
Craigellachie, Scotland
Tel: 44 0843 178 7114

Tiki-Ti, Los Angeles

There’s no doubt that tiki cocktails are back, but there are just a few surviving original tropical spots left from the heyday of the ‘50s and ‘60s. So if you’re a rum lover, you’ll definitely want to stop by Los Angeles’ Tiki-Ti, which serves a mind-boggling selection of nearly 100 cocktails. It was started in 1961 by Ray Buhen, one of the original barmen at Don the Beachcomber’s, and now Buhen’s son and grandson run the legendary watering hole.

4427 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
Tel: 323 669 9381

The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, New York

It’s hard to imagine how a bar that’s only been open since the beginning of 2013 made it onto this list, but as soon as you step into this Irish-style pub in New York’s Financial District, you’ll understand. The Dead Rabbit has everything from sawdust-covered floors to an impressive drink menu including old-timey punches and 72 historically accurate cocktails. Founder and general manager Sean Muldoon and bar manager Jack McGarry both came from the award-winning bar in Belfast’s Merchant Hotel, and they haven’t stopped racking up accolades. At this past summer’s Tales of the Cocktail convention, The Dead Rabbit was named the World’s Best New Cocktail Bar and also won for World’s Best Cocktail Menu. And McGarry took home the title of International Bartender of the Year. You’ll have to see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

30 Water Street
New York, NY
Tel: 646 422 7906

(Photo courtesy Andrew Kist)

One Flew South, Atlanta

Usually, we try to spend as little time as possible in airports (and even less in their under-stocked, overpriced watering holes), but Terminal E of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is a completely different story: It’s home to One Flew South. This traveler’s paradise is the finest airport bar we’ve encountered and offers a list of unique craft cocktails, like the Santana’s Daughter, a mixture of jalapeño-infused tequila, beets, cardamom and lime. It also serves a full menu of sushi and “Southernational” dishes inspired by food from all around the world.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Terminal E
6000 North Terminal Parkway
Atlanta, GA
Tel: 404 816 3464

(Photo by James Camp, courtesy of Green Olive Media)

Red Square, Las Vegas

There are some unique bars out there, but Red Square is definitely one of the most unusual: It boasts a lounge inside a giant freezer that’s stocked with more than 200 types of vodka. (If you venture inside, the spot will provide a fur coat and hat.) But this joint isn’t in Moscow; it’s in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay casino resort.

3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV
Tel: 702 693 8300

Sazerac Bar, New Orleans

Want to head back in time? Enter the Sazerac Bar inside the historic Roosevelt Hotel, which first opened for business in 1923. The establishment underwent an extensive restoration several years ago, but it’s retained its old-world charm. It once was the regular haunt of Ramos Gin Fizz-loving Governor Huey P. Long, who had a permanent suite on the hotel’s 12th floor.

123 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA
Tel: 504 648 1200

The Oakroom, Louisville

This lavish hotel bar still features the same ornate wood décor as it did when it opened in 1907. It also stocks an extensive list of bourbons and wine. During Prohibition, the Seelbach Hilton Hotel that houses The Oakroom was popular among gangsters and bootleggers coming to make deals at Kentucky distilleries. According to legend, Al Capone frequented the watering hole and often used it as a poker den. With all that history, how could you stay away?

500 South 4th Street
Louisville, KY
Tel: 502 807 3463

Icebar, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

We can practically guarantee that this is the coolest bar around, since it’s inside Jukkasjärvi’s Icehotel. Yes, the above-the-Arctic-Circle hotel and its bar are almost completely constructed out of ice; even the Martini and Champagne glasses are carved from ice, so you can have your drink in the rocks. The joint is rebuilt anew each winter and will be up and running for the coming season by early December.

Marknadsvägen 63
Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Tel: 46 0980 66 800

Nihon Whisky Lounge, San Francisco

With more than 500 whiskies hailing from 18 countries around the globe, Nihon is a whisky-lover’s dream. (The bar carries the largest selection of Scotch on the West Coast, with more than 200 single malts alone!) The best part? All the spirits are available by the taste, full pour and bottle. (If you splurge on a bottle, you can even store it in a private locker until your next visit.) The San Francisco spirits haven also serves excellent sushi—what more could you ask for?

1779 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA
Tel: 415 552 4400

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Comments

  1. Geoff Ryan says

    Should have known, given your site’s name, but the complete lack of mention of beer, despite the vast armada of quality craft brews, makes me think this is an agenda-driven piece, rather than a real list. A true bar i would want to visit before I die would serve all customers their drink of choice, not what the liquor industry was peddling. You do these bars a disservice.

    • vernon sendelbach says

      uh Ryan, did you actually view the name on the web site–it says LIQUOR.com, not brewery, so WHY would they mention beer?? Or have you been overdoing the suds when typing?

    • Deidre Darling says

      shame on you for talking about an industry you know nothing about. These are all establishments that serve with integrity and not an agenda. Many of them have been around a lot longer than you sir. Setting the standards of a bar and serving all types of beverages, including beer.

  2. Pat Patelos says

    Please check out my personal bar @ 2700 Rockwood Drive Raleigh, NC 27610. Specialty: Manhattan on the rocks.

    Pat Patelos Owmer/Bartender/Patron

  3. NissankaPeti says

    I have had the privileged of staying and drinking at this memorable bar around 22 yrs ago when I was
    introduced to my first sip of Balvenie. Perhaps 30th April 1991. It is the only malt I still drink.
    “Slainte”
    NisaPeti.

  4. Douglas Smith says

    I will definitely check out ‘One Flew South’ at the Atlanta airport when I head back there to launch the Inaugural Whiskies of the World Atlanta on Nov. 1.

  5. Mike Simons says

    I was surprised that Harry’s Bar/Cipriani wasn’t included on the list.
    http://www.harrysbarvenezia.com

  6. Nihon is all right, but it’s not even one of the top ten bars in San Francisco, let alone worthy of this bucket list. Major fail there.

    • In that case, what would you recommend instead? If you’re going to say it’s inferior, and I’m not questioning your opinion, you do need to say what is superior. You claim there are 10+ better WHISKY bars in the city, please name three.

  7. The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, Singapore. The birthplace of the Singapore Sling.

  8. No Geiger Bar? No Aviary? No Carousel Bar? Incomplete, I’d say…

  9. I am fairly certain that the image attached to The Oakroom, is not The Oakroom. It strongly resembles The Oyster Bar in Grand Central, NYC but I don’t believe that is it either. Can we get a confirmation that it is or does anyone know what the true identity is?

    • We got that photo directly from The Seelbach Hilton. It is definitely Louisville and not New York!

      • That’s not the Oakroom, it’s the Rathskellar in the Seelbach. It’s a great room for events on the lower level, but not a bar. If you need a picture of the Oakroom, I could probably take time out from my bourbon truffle shop a block and a half away and get you a photo. (I’m partial to the Old Seelbach Bar there personally.)

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