A spirited guide to the country’s top watering holes
The 150 Best Bars in America
The Daily Meal walks into a bar and — we peruse the menu, the clientele, and the drinks list; we scrutinize the drink, the place, the vibe; we take mental notes. Then we decide to grab a wad of cocktail napkins and start scribbling notes for a list like this, which we’ve been compiling annually since 2011.
Choosing a bar is a personal matter, and just as every person is unique, so is each bar. Sure, there are plenty of cookie-cutter Irish pubs, tacky tourist joints with sticky-sweet frozen drinks, and lackluster lounges with watered-down booze, but there are thousands of wonderful drinking places across the United States, too.
From simple beach bars and swanky cocktail lounges to innovative houses of “molecular” mixology to dusty dive bars and dens of iniquity, there’s a bar for everyone. Bars are ubiquitous and unifying. They are the great socioeconomic equalizer: Nearly anyone of legal age can enter a bar, pull up a stool and buy him- or herself a refreshing glass of liquid luxury in its many forms: from a budget ice-cold brew to a fine wine to a potent shot to a classic cocktail to a spectacular modernist creation. Bars are relatable and welcoming; they are a comfort to many in good times and bad.
Whether you like it neat, dirty, on the rocks, up, with a twist, shaken, or stirred, there’s a watering hole on this list that’ll have your whistle wet in no time. So pull up a stool, tip your bartender, and check out our annual ranking of the 150 best bars in America for 2019.
Three Dots and A Dash
Named after a popular tiki drink from the 1940s, Three Dots and a Dash is a speakeasy take on a traditional tiki bar and one of Illinois’s craft cocktail destinations. Hidden down an alley in the middle of downtown Chicago, the tiki bar was named one of The World’s 50 Best Bars by Drinks International and is led by cocktail expert Kevin Beary. His team works tirelessly to source and create the best possible tiki cocktails using the freshest exotic fruits and spices, the finest rums and distilled spirits, and cold-pressed juices and elixirs. Three Dots and a Dash’s rum-soaked menu features classic, modern, and large format tiki drinks and a selection of Polynesian-inspired bites. Bring a crowd and try the Port Royal — made with an entire bottle of Appleton Estate 21-year-aged Jamaican rum that is poured tableside and mixed with oak-aged yellow Chartreuse, freshly pressed lime juice, cold pressed pineapple juice and clarified mango and rambutan purée that is served in a huge pirate ship vessel with dry ice escaping the lower decks — or the Shotstopus, which holds an individual shot in each tentacle. If you’re here solo, go for Beary’s signature Idle Hands cocktail, a crystal-clear concoction of clarified banana rum, cane sugar, and “Lime 2.0” that looks like water but tastes like a banana daiquiri.