Best Bars in the World
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.
London: Connaught Bar
When the century-old Connaught hotel underwent a $120 million restoration in 2008, the famed Art Deco bar was updated, too. Among the new features is a black-leather-topped martini trolley overseen by white-gloved attendants, who mix premium gins and vodkas with crisp Italian Gancia vermouth. Top London mixologists Ago Perrone and Erik Lorincz preside over the extensive cocktail list, headed up by the Connaught Collins with gin and house-made bitters. Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze oversees snacks like lobster spring rolls.
Plus: London City Guide
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. This spring, De Goriainoff will launch an Experimental Cocktail Club in London.
Plus: Paris City Guide
New York City: Mayahuel
© Danielle Corey
Mayahuel—named for the goddess of agave, the source of both mezcal and tequila—focuses on both spirits. There are no margaritas on the menu, though owner Phil Ward happily makes them on request. He also 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.
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: He uses cubes of different temperatures in his drinks (sometimes wielding a thermometer) and can carve them to a diamond-like sparkle. His signature cocktail, the White Lady, is an outstanding, frothy gin-based Sidecar; other mixologists say it's the best drink they've ever had.
Plus: Tokyo City Guide
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 and Schiaffino's father, Jose Antonio, has extensively researched Pisco Punch; Malabar uses marinated pineapple for its sensational version.
Sydney: Rockpool Bar & Grill
© Earl Carter
Neil Perry's new outpost of his Melbourne steak house 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.
Plus: Sydney City Guide
Amsterdam: Door 74
Philip Duff's 40-seat spot 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 ("In cold weather, I can drink it all night," he says). His Vanilla-Berry Crush is his most famous creation; it's also served at the Juggle Juice Bar at Amsterdam Schipol Airport.
Plus: Amsterdam City Guide
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 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.
Plus: Stockholm City Guide
Berlin: Becketts Kopf
Named for the Irish writer who lived in Germany, this bar 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.
Plus: Berlin City Guide