Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Where to Drink: Hip Cocktail Bars, USA

Maybe the post-Independence Day spirit of imbibing and celebration hasn't worn off, but we're excited to source out some great American bars.

A Porter flight away, some of the world's best bars making mind-blowing drinks and will hopefully top your list of to-dos on your next weekend getaway.

Your experience in a great bar might just change the way you think about drinks and inspire a greater love for the city, because the following bars totally did that for us (what can be remembered of them at least). Here is our list of our favourite cocktail bars in Boston, New York and Las Vegas.

348 Congress Street, Boston, MA
A part of the Barbara Lynch empire (of No. 9 Park and B&G Oysters fame), craft cocktail bar Drink is hidden on a lower level in the eclectic yet quiet Fort Point Channel area, across the bridge in Boston. That's not all that is hidden - you'll notice there are no liquor bottles visible to the guests' eye. Nor are there menus. And don't expect to find any products from after 1950 either (that means no vanilla vodka, OK?).

So what can you get at Drink? A wickedly made cocktail that is expert selected and tailored to your tastes based on your preferred spirits and the mood you're in. Mixed by a masterful bartender that makes carving ice off a block and shaking a Boston look like Timberlake moves. If the drinks aren't enough to love, we dig that the fine barkeeps at Drink are led by female mixologist extrodinaire, Misty Kalkofen.  Drink is the essential thinking-woman's bar.

 The Violet Hour
1520 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL

Doesn't it feel so much better to have a seat?  Really, it's only civilized to be sitting down if you're drinking Lady Grey-infused Gin. There are only as many people inside The Violet Hour as there are chairs. And they are beautiful chairs of blue leather and regal high backs. 

The Violet Hour makes you want to read smart books, be a better lady and of course, drink better cocktails. Perhaps it's the atmosphere created by chandeliers, candles, heavy curtains and the ability to make audible conversation. Or maybe it's the opportunity to savour a cocktail made with the care and expertise that can only come from the most noble drink-mixing intention. Whatever the je ne sais quoi may be, The Violet Hour will make you feel like Alice entering Wonderland (except that the tea gets infused into gin).

The Griffin
511 Freemont Street, Las Vegas, NV

Had enough ten-dollar bottles of water? Not in the mood for bottle service? See a different side of Las Vegas by venturing off The Strip out to Old Downtown. This is the Vegas of yore, where you'll find the legendary 4 Queens, Freemont Street and an array of the old-school Vegas buffet. Bypass the $2 shrimp cocktails and deep-friend Twinkies...a little past the light show strip is where the tourist crowd dies off into bohemian locals territory. 

A little seedy, sure.  But the real Vegas party is in here: real bodies, real (hip) locals and a real jukebox. Those urbane enough to experience more than nightclubs and 5-litre streetside Margaritas will be well-rewarded at The Griffin. With a warm and sophisticated room (think Grandpa-esque hunting lodge turned tavern) and a palpable unpretentious coolness, The Griffin isn't breaking any molds - but somehow in the context of the Las Vegas experience, it's a breath of fresh air and a gem to be found. 

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