Stories / Drinks

Outstanding Drinks Across America

JBF Editors

JBF Editors

April 18, 2012


A map of all James Beard Foundation Outstanding Bar Program award semifinalists

The next time you want to wet your whistle in one of these cities, check out the following restaurants and watering holes—all semifinalists for the new JBF Award for Outstanding Bar Program—for classic cocktails as well as innovative tipples (and beer, too!).

1. The Zig Zag Café Seattle
COME HERE FOR: The extensive selection of whiskies, rums, and cachaças, plus a rotating menu of more than 20 cocktails, such as the Sarah Law.

2. Clyde Common Portland, OR
COME HERE FOR: A Barrel-Aged Negroni (a traditional gin negroni aged for 2 months in used whiskey barrels) or a Kingston Club.

3. Beretta San Francisco
COME HERE FOR: Handcrafted cocktails like the Kentucky Mule or the Rattlesnake, served alongside a seasonal menu of Italian comfort food.

4. Bar Agricole San Francisco
COME HERE FOR: Drinks made with housemade syrups, sodas, and bitters, including the Presidente and the Turf Cocktail.

5. Rivera Los Angeles
COME HERE FOR: A collection of artisanal and handcrafted tequilas, plus the Donaji cocktail (made with crickets!).

6. High West Distillery & Saloon Park City, UT
COME HERE FOR: House-distilled whiskies and vodkas, which are used in cocktails like the popular Dead Man’s Boots.

7. La Belle Vie Minneapolis
COME HERE FOR: The ever-changing cocktail list that’s overseen by lead bartender Johnny Michaels.

8. The Old Fashioned Madison, WI
COME HERE FOR: More than 50 Badger State beers on tap, plus another 80 by the bottle, with names like Java Lava and Kiss the Lips IPA.

9. The Violet Hour Chicago
COME HERE FOR: A menu of more than 30 classic and creative cocktails, such as the Hush and Wonder.

10. The Aviary Chicago
COME HERE FOR: Innovative cocktails like the Oolong, in which the cocktail base is infused with ingredients like applewood and almonds.

11. Anvil Bar & Refuge Houston
COME HERE FOR: Cocktails inspired by the South, like the uncompromisingly aggressive house cocktail, the Brave.

12. The Esquire Tavern San Antonio
COME HERE FOR: The proprietary ginger beer, the backbone to popular cocktails like the Moscow Mule and Only the Besh (created for chef John Besh).

13. Arnaud’s French 75 Bar New Orleans
COME HERE FOR: A seasonal cocktail menu created by Chris Hannah and featuring the bar’s namesake drink.

14. Cure New Orleans
COME HERE FOR: Perfectly balanced cocktails concocted from a wide range of spirits and housemade bitters.

15. The Porter Beer Bar Atlanta
COME HERE FOR: Thirty drafts and more than 500 bottles of beer, including those from the vintage beer program.

16. Holeman & Finch Public House Atlanta
COME HERE FOR: The Suppressor #1 and Suppressor #7, part of the local, low-proof-but-complex cocktail movement that was born to serve the public-transportation-challenged Atlanta market.

17. The Columbia Room Washington, D.C.
COME HERE FOR: A dry martini (the best in America according to GQ) or the signature Getaway.

18. PX Alexandria, VA
COME HERE FOR: Cocktails made with skill and farm-fresh ingredients, such the refreshing Sweet Basil.

19. The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. Philadelphia
COME HERE FOR: An extensive menu of cocktails made with fine spirits and great ice.

20. Standard Tap Philadelphia
COME HERE FOR: The draft-only selection (read: no bottles) of more than 20 beers, all brewed within a 90-mile radius of the bar.

21. Pegu Club NYC
COME HERE FOR: Mixology maven Audrey Saunder’s multitude of original creations, such as her ambassador to gin, the Gin-Gin Mule (gin, ginger beer, mint, lime, simple syrup).

COME HERE FOR: Jim Meehan’s expertly crafted cocktails, like the Paddington, which is flavored with a spoonful of orange marmalade.

23. Cook & Brown Public House Providence
COME HERE FOR: Popular offerings like the Thirsty Hungarian.

24. Drink Boston
COME HERE FOR: Hand-crafted cocktails based on your personal preferences (there is no menu).