The People’s Best New Bars award, presented by Roca Patrón, is Food & Wine’s first-ever poll to rank the most incredible drink destinations in the country. We want to know what you think are the most innovative new bars in the Midwest.

By F&W Editors
September 17, 2014

The People’s Best New Bars award, presented by Roca Patrón, is Food & Wine’s first-ever poll to rank the most incredible drink destinations in the country. We want to know what you think are the most innovative new bars in America.

Northeast, Midwest, West/Southwest, Southeast, Northwest/Mountain
Midwest Area Bars

Photo © You Me Us Now


At this Logan Square bar, Robby Haynes and Henry Prendergast serve a rotating list of cocktails like the Old Fashioned Shot (photo), a shot of bourbon laced with sugar and garnished with a bitters-soaked orange wedge. analoguechicago.comThe Berkshire Room

Photo © ThinkLeigh Photography

The Berkshire Room

Benjamin Schiller crafts Dealer’s Choice cocktails, for which bar-goers choose a spirit, flavor profile and glassware, and are rewarded with a custom-made drink. The Weston (photo) is made with wheated bourbon, Dark Matter Coffee essence and pipe tobacco. theberkshireroom.comBilly Sunday

Photo © Hedrich Blessing

Billy Sunday

At this old-school tavern, chef Matthias Merges of Yusho serves original drinks like the Handle w/Care, made with tequila, falernum and tonka bean bitters. billy-sunday.comBlue Jacket

Photo © Blue Jacket LLC

Blue Jacket

This maritime-themed restaurant and bar specializes in rum-based highballs like Of the Older Bumbo (photo), made with El Dorado 12 Year Old rum, nutmeg-sorghum syrup and house-made bitters. bluejacketbar.comÇa Va

Photo © Hilary Norcross

Ça Va

Kansas City, MO
Not surprisingly, this small and intimate Champagne bar specializes in sparkling drinks. Along with the wide selection of bottles, there are plenty of Champagne-based cocktails such as the Valencia—made with apricot brandy, orange juice and bitters—to choose from. cavakc.comCeleste

Photo courtesy of Celeste


Celeste pays homage to the spirit of innovation of the World’s Fair that took place during the industrial revolution by serving cocktails rooted in science (such as The Prelude, a bottled cocktail made with orange oil) in a modern and refined barroom. celestechicago.comCoup d'Etat

Photo © Coup d’État

Coup d’État

This large restaurant and bar, consisting of several dining rooms and upper- and lower-level patios, serves reinvented classic drinks such as the Manhattan-martini hybrid A Lifetime of Todays (photo). coupdetatmpls.comForequarter

Photo © Emily Julka


Run by the Underground Food Collective restaurant group, Forequarter is a rustic restaurant that divides its drinks list into sections like Ginger (like a Rye Mule), Tart (the tequila-based La Taqueria, photo) and Light/Fizzy (Elderflower 75). There are bottled cocktails too, like Punch, a mix of rye, hibiscus, Earl Grey tea and citrus. forequartermadison.comGoodkind

Photo © Michael Goelzer


Headed by bartender Katherine Rose, Goodkind serves a selection of craft cocktails meant to pair perfectly with the food on the menu. The Mandrake (photo) is made with rum, house-made spiced orgeat, charred pineapple bitters and basil. goodkindbayview.comHeritage Tavern


Heritage Tavern

Mixologist Grant Hurless works with local growers to create his seasonally changing cocktail menu, featuring drinks such as Fox Trot (with sage liquor, vodka, Pimm’s, lavender and lemon) and Newton’s Folly (apple cider, tequila, rum, lime and ginger beer). heritagetavern.comThe Kill Devil Club

Photo © Landon Vonderschmidt

The Kill Devil Club

Kansas City, MO
Bartender-restaurateur Ryan Maybee consulted on the opening of this “adult oasis” that specializes in live jazz and punches like the Kill Devil Rum Punch (photo), made with two types of rum, Batavia Arrack and cinnamon bark syrup. killdevilclub.comThe Last WordPeople's Best New Bar Winner

Photo © Anjali Pinto

The Last Word

Ann Arbor, MI
In an elegant setting, The Last Word’s co-owner and mixologist Paul Drennan serves three different takes on the classic Manhattan as well as the Osborn (photo), a spicy gin-based drink with muddled pineapple and jalapeño. Menus are presented as small binders made from old hardcover books. thelastwordbar.comLucky Joe’s Tiki Room

Photo © Trevor Smith

Lucky Joe’s Tiki Room

This tropical–themed bar and lounge specializes in wacky riffs on classic tiki cocktails, such as a peach pie–flavored mai tai. luckyjoestiki.comMonarch

Photo © Gavin Peters Photography


Wichita, KS
In the historic Delano District of Wichita, Monarch features an extensive bourbon collection with cocktails like the Perfect Manhattan and the Apple Bourbon Sour. The tequila-based Charbandos (photo) is made with hibiscus syrup and pineapple juice. monarchwichita.comParlour

Photo © Parlour


Barman Jesse Held creates craft cocktails based on traditional favorites, like the Parlour Manhattan (with strawberry essence) or Spicy n’ Stormy (with house–spiced black rum), by incorporating fresh juices, house-made syrups, elixirs, and rare, artisanal spirits.’s House

Photo © Greg Rannells

Planter’s House

St. Louis
Named after a hotel that was a St. Louis landmark for more than 100 years, Planter’s House serves an extensive list of classic cocktails including a vast selection of margaritas, a choice of sours, collinses, fizzes and slings, and large-format bottled Negronis and Sazeracs. The Manhattanite (photo) is made with rye, sweet vermouth, Suze and chocolate bitters. plantershousestl.comSportsman’s Club

Photo © Nathan Michael

Sportsman’s Club

In a softly lit space decorated with taxidermied animal heads, Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue use a minimum amount of simple ingredients to make stellar drinks, which change daily. The one constant is the Sportsman’s Club Cocktail (photo), made with bourbon, Zucca and Luxardo bitters. drinkingandgathering.comThree Dots and a Dash

Photo © Mark Gjukich

Three Dots and a Dash

Named after a 1940s rum drink made with two types of rum, falernum and honey (photo), and also Morse code for V, as in victory, this tiki-style bar from the Melman brothers is right below its sister establishment, Bub City. threedotschicago.comThunderbird



Located in the up-and-coming Fountain Square neighborhood, Thunderbird serves a range of quirkily named cocktails divided into three categories: Old Standards, like the Sazerac and the Negroni; Over-Hyped, like the Blanche Devereaux, made with rye, apricot liqueur, grapefruit and honey; and For the Tiki Gods, such as the rum and coconut cream-based Gorilla Grog. thunderbirdindy.comVoltaire

Photo © Todd Zimmer


Kansas City, MO
In Kansas City’s old Stockyards district, Voltaire boasts an impressive list of whiskeys and both bottled and draft beers. The bar also serves a varied selection of house-made cocktails including the KC Sour (photo), made with bourbon, smoked lemon juice, demerara syrup and red wine.