Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Chris Amirault

GQ Names 25 Best Cocktail Bars in US

Recommended Posts

GQ just announced their list of the 25 best cocktails bars in the US, with Zig Zag in Seattle coming out at #1. Here's the rest of the list:

2: Angel's Share ­ New York

3: The Violet Hour ­ Chicago

4: Clover Club ­ Brooklyn

5: The Alembic ­ San Francisco

6: Death & Co ­ New York

7: PDT ­ New York

8: PX ­ Alexandria, VA

9: Comstock Saloon ­ San Francisco

10: Holeman & Finch ­ Atlanta

11: Tiki-ti ­ Los Angeles

12: The Patterson House ­ Nashville

13: Eastern Standard ­ Boston

14: Rickhouse ­ San Francisco

15: Anvil ­ Houston

16: Arnaud's French 75 ­ New Orleans

17: Elixir ­ San Francisco

18: Columbia Room ­ Washington, D.C.

19: Cole's ­ Los Angeles

20: The Whistler ­ Chicago

21: Drink ­ Boston

22: Pegu Club ­ New York

23: The Edison ­ Los Angeles

24: The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. ­ Philadelphia

25: Needle and Thread ­ Seattle

Comments, rants, etc. invited. I'll start: NO Portland OR bars?!? That is insane.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've yet to set foot in a bar anywhere in the world that's better than The Violet Hour when it's "on"...that said, I've not been to Angel's Share or Zig Zag. I was extremely impressed by Clover Club, and am delighted to see it ranked so high. Had a very nice visit to Death & Company recently, as well. If you've never heard of The Whistler, it's the bar where you're most likely to run into the Violet Hour bartenders on their night off...it deserves its spot, but it's a pretty small operation so I hope it's not inundated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is GQ. This is more about what's hip. Not what's great. The upstairs of Tavern Law (Needle and Thread) is a top 25 bar? Pfft.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Curious, do they give any indication of the nature of the selection process?

Was there some sort of poll or contest? Editorial process?

Or is it completely subjective?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the article:

A year ago, we at GQ decided to rank the nation's very best cocktail bars—in order. So we traveled. A lot. Enough miles to circle the earth, the moon, and then some. . . . Recommendations came from bartenders, writers, blogs—anyone who knew the difference between a Gibson and a Vesper. In the end, we visited twenty-one cities and 102 bars. We drank no fewer than three cocktails at each, but usually many more.

It sounds as if they paid some attention to outside opinions, but other than that, the only thing they say about their selection process is this:

Old-timey accuracy matters, but the drink matters more. Handlebar mustaches, arm garters, entrances with passwords—these things can quickly sour into preciousness. If a drink was good—balanced and true—we drank. If it wasn't, we didn't.

If you page through the slideshow (here) you can read what they liked about each bar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't notice this when it first posted, but the list contains the following addenda:

The Best Spirit-Specific Cocktail Bars

1. Mayahuel (New York)

2. Smuggler's Cove (San Francisco)

3. La Descarga (Los Angeles)

The Best Restaurant Cocktail Bars

1. Cyrus (Healdsburg)

2. Iris (New Orleans)

3. Heaven's Dog (San Francisco)

4. Fino (Austin)

5. Prime Meats (Brooklyn)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does Cole's include The Varnish?

Personally I prefer The Varnish to any other bar in Downtown LA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's no way Angel's Share deserves a spot that high on the list, especially above Violet Hour. It's 2nd tier in NYC to PDT, Pegu, D&C. No Sasha Petraske bars either (Milk & Honey)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as San Francisco goes...

Alembic - yes, yes, yes

Elixir - ...not so sure about that one

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is GQ. This is more about what's hip. Not what's great. The upstairs of Tavern Law (Needle and Thread) is a top 25 bar? Pfft.

I feel so uncool. I've only been to a few. No great hotel bars? Was there an age limit on the bartender?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many people have traveled widely enough to say whether or not this list is nonsense? My instincts say don't take GQ seriously, but who knows?

Assuming there is a kernel of truth in these rankings, does it show that the cocktail renaissance has taken root across the country? Or should we assume the geographic distribution is just a bone thrown to readers outside New York?

I don't know the New York cocktail scene, but does that ranking for Pegu Club seem fair? I certainly hear less talk about it these days. Has it been that fully eclipsed by the bars that came after it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many people have traveled widely enough to say whether or not this list is nonsense? My instincts say don't take GQ seriously, but who knows?

Assuming there is a kernel of truth in these rankings, does it show that the cocktail renaissance has taken root across the country? Or should we assume the geographic distribution is just a bone thrown to readers outside New York?

I think there was obviously an attempt to make sure various regions were at least represented, if not entirely equally. For example, The Drawing Room is surely the equal of any of the bottom 10, but The Whistler is a more trendy and potentially surprising pick for GQ to make and it would be overkill to have 3 Chicago bars on the list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't comment on most of the list, and can't think of any glaring omissions, but as an Angeleno I do have to quibble with their choice of Cole's over Varnish. Yes, they make damn fine cocktails at Cole's, but their repertoire is a bit limited in comparison. Varnish is the first bar in LA that I've walked into where I feel comfortable ordering by saying, "I'd like something with (fill in name of base spirit), bartender's choice", and feel assured that I'm going to get a great drink.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats to my hard working colleagues behind the stick at Franklin Mortgage & Investment. Well deserved indeed! Way to represent Philly! Woot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GQ just announced their list of the 25 best cocktails bars in the US, with Zig Zag in Seattle coming out at #1. Here's the rest of the list:

...

Comments, rants, etc. invited. I'll start: NO Portland OR bars?!? That is insane.

First thought was Zig Zag is very deserving. Second thought, dang, it's going to be harder to get a seat at the bar.

I agree about Portland although my experience is limited to one trip when I was recovering from swine flu and only got to Teardrop.

I'm betting GQ reads this forum but just couldn't swing a trip to PDX.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only been to 7 of these places, so I can't argue too much with the list, except to agree with Mike's "no Cure?" And although I like Angel's Share, I'll second Kathryn that their ranking does seem awfully high.

If you read the text in the slide show, they were definitely considering some intangibles, not just listing places with the best drinks, and it's hard to quantify vibe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can never understand why people get wound up/upset/annoyed/miffed/pissed/angry/and so on at these lists as they're never going to get it right no matter who makes it onto the listing.


Edited by evo-lution (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly. Every bar on the list is excellent, and some of them are famously elite cocktail bars. There are also some excellent as well as some famously elite cocktail bars that aren't on the list.

One can quibble about the rankings and who was/wasn't included. My experience is that these things are almost always written and/or compiled by people who don't necessarily share the priorities of the cocktailians who might spend their time debating the merits of such a list. Just to make an easy example, there are bars on the list that might be judged by most cocktailians as having merely "very good" cocktails, but which are ranked highly by the GQ writers, presumably due to some perceived "coolness factor" that's important to them and their readers. Beyond those sorts of things, there can be all kinds of other reasons why an article might include or highly rank certain establishments and not others. I know to a fact that NYC publications at various times have profiled certain establishments in "best of" or "notable" roundups fundamentally because they were tired of writing about the same interconnected group of people all the time. And, of course, when examining our own reactions, it's always worthwhile to keep the "home court" effect in mind. This was discussed by Alan Richman in his GQ pizza article, where he points out that "a beloved pizzeria is almost always about memories." This all goes a long way towards explaining why we are sometimes just as mystified at those guys from Omaha who think they have a top tier cocktail bar as they are mystified that we don't agree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Velvet Tango Room? That's too bad. Such a fantastic place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×