World's Best Bars
San Francisco: Rickhouse
The newest place from the owners of Bourbon & Branch honors the Kentucky warehouses where bourbon is aged. The 300 bourbon barrels that decorate the ceiling signal the bar's emphasis on whiskey drinks. Another specialty at Rickhouse: punches, like a gingery Pimm's with gin and lemon, served in white milk-glass bowls with giant blocks of berry-studded ice.
Photo courtesy of Justin Lew.
London: Connaught Bar
When the century-old Connaught hotel underwent a $120 million restoration in 2008, the famed Art Deco Connaught Bar was updated, too. Among the new features is a martini trolley overseen by white-gloved attendants, who mix premium gins and vodkas with Italian Gancia vermouth. Top London mixologists Ago Perrone and Erik Lorincz preside over the extensive cocktail list; Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze oversees snacks like lobster spring rolls.
Photo courtesy of the Connaught/Damian Russell.
Paris: Curio Parlor
In 2006, Romee De Goriainoff abandoned a career in finance to open the Right Bank's Experimental Cocktail Club. Curio is on the Left Bank; it has the same terrific cocktails in a more elegant setting, with chandeliers and taxidermy. His Strawberry Fields combines vodka and Champagne with a garnish of "slapped" mint, while the Copa Verde is a more unorthodox mix of tequila, honey and avocado.
Photo courtesy of Curio Parlor.
New York City: Mayahuel
Mayahuel—named for the goddess of agave, the source of both mezcal and tequila—focuses on both spirits. Owner Phil Ward mixes exquisite drinks like the Slight Detour, combining jalapeño-infused tequila, reposado (aged) tequila, mezcal and agave nectar. The food is Mexican as well, like cochinita, braised pork belly with papaya-mango mustard.
Photo © Danielle Corey.
Tokyo: Bar High Five
"Japan is the Galápagos Islands of bartending: Mixologists develop their own ways of making classics," says High Five owner Hidetsugu Ueno. Ueno, who trained at Tokyo's legendary Star Bar Ginza, is obsessed with ice: At Bar High Five, he uses cubes of different temperatures in his drinks and can carve them to a diamond-like sparkle.
Photo courtesy of Bar High Five.
Chef-owner Pedro Miguel Schiaffino opened Malabar with his parents, which may explain the cozy living-room vibe. A Culinary Institute of America alum, he updates South American cocktails and serves dishes like barbecued goat with purple corn. Pisco is the house spirit; Malabar uses marinated pineapple for its sensational version of Pisco Punch.
Photo © Kevin Willison.
Sydney: Rockpool Bar & Grill
Neil Perry's Rockpool Bar & Grill is set in a stunning green-marble building that evokes the Art Deco period. Mixologist Linden Pride celebrates a later era—the 1950s—with his version of the Moscow Mule, mixing vodka with fresh ginger and house-made ginger beer. The extensive bar menu includes Perry's bacon-Gruyère wagyu cheeseburger.
Photo © Earl Carter.
Amsterdam: Door 74
Philip Duff's 40-seat Door 74 is in a hard-to-find location, in the workshop of a former garage. Duff uses old-school techniques, glasses and garnishes for seasonal drinks like the Fig & Foam, a bourbon sour with fresh grenadine and organic fig puree. His Vanilla-Berry Crush is his most famous creation; it's also served at the Juggle Juice Bar at Amsterdam Schipol Airport.
Photo courtesy of Door 74.
Stockholm: f/l Cocktailbar
This bar is run by the owners of the experimental Scandinavian restaurant frantzén/lindeberg, across the street (diners can come by for a drink before or after dinner there; otherwise f/l Cocktailbar is members-only). By day, it's a bakery; at night, mixologists squeeze fruit juices to order and serve drinks like the Martinez Fashioned—gin, maraschino liqueur and grape zest.
Photo courtesy of Stefan van der Kwast Gissberg.
Berlin: Becketts Kopf
Named for the Irish writer who lived in Germany, Becketts Kopf is marked outside by an illuminated picture of Samuel Beckett's head (kopf means "head"). Husband-wife owners Oliver Ebert and Cristina Neves serve cocktails in vintage glasses, focusing on carefully modernized drinks like the Lusitanian (aged Portuguese brandy and sweet vermouth); the simple menu includes variously aged Ibérico hams.
Photo courtesy of Becketts Kopf.