For the Locavore
Bar Agricole, San Francisco
This 4,000-square-foot bar is deeply dedicated to the farm-to-shaker movement: Bitters, syrups and sodas are house-made, often with ingredients from the garden. The best drinks tweak the classics, like the rum Agricole Mule.
Weather Up, New York City
Customers come to this dark lounge for some of New York's most precise craft cocktails, made with hand-cut ice. The bar menu mixes the obvious (potato chips) with surprises (broccoli rillettes).
At Weather Up, a $6,000 machine creates 300-pound blocks of ice. Using saws, hammers and chisels, the staff carve out different ice shapes for different drinks.
Vandaag, New York City
Aquavit and genever, neat and in cocktails, are the signature spirits at this airy, Dutch-inspired restaurant. Their heady flavors go well with the bitterballen (slow-braised oxtail croquettes).
Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chicago
The 16-page drink menu at Hotel Palomar's bar quotes Jean-Jacques Rousseau, lists cocktails like the Chuck Yeager (rum with cinnamon bark syrup) and boasts one of the city's largest amber spirits collections.
The Tasting Kitchen; Venice, CA
Like the food, the cocktails at this casually hip restaurant are market-driven and fastidiously handmade, down to the extra-tart tonic water and "kola" in the highbrow Jack and Coke.
For the History Buff
1886 Bar at the Raymond Restaurant; Pasadena, CA
Taking its name and inspiration from the year the original hotel opened, 1886 Bar offers three-ingredient drinks, a version of Charles Dickens's favorite punch and a bar menu with crisp pork belly.
Oak at Fourteenth; Boulder, CO
"We serve mocktails, low-alcohol drinks, high-alcohol drinks, eclectic wines and geeky beers. We basically want to turn people on to great imbibing options," says mixologist Bryan Dayton, an alum of Frasca Food and Wine. Among the boozier drinks at this New American bistro: the mezcal- and cardamom-laced Ginger's Lost Islandgreat with a dish from the wood-burning oven, like the lamb T-bone.
Too New to Review
The Aviary, Chicago
Inside star chef Grant Achatz's restaurant Next, this bar celebrates his mad-scientist molecular experiments. Its take on the traditional Christmastime Tom and Jerry drink calls for warm milk flavored with roasted bananas and a cream base aerated with nitrous oxide.