Here is a list of my all time favorite places to drink with a little description of why and some photos to show you what to expect. When I started thinking of places to add to this list, I thought of my favorite places that have amazing cocktails, great views, and a memorable atmosphere. I love finding the perfect spot for drinks before or after dinner, and think it's a great way to experience the city. If you're traveling solo, don't be afraid to head to one of these places and grab a seat at the bar. It's one of my favorite ways to spend the night when I'm not sure where to go!
Are there any on your all time favorites that I should check out? Send me an email or comment below!
This historical bar in the Ritz Paris (which is incredible in itself) was frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald and of course Ernest Hemingway. Arrive here early to avoid waiting and you’ll feel like your transported back in time. I highly suggest the Clean Dirty Martini which has a frozen cube of olive juice. You’ll truly appreciate the history of the bar and the craftmanship of the cocktails, and I highly suggest putting this at the top of your list when you’re in Paris.
Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room
New York, New York
Yes, the cocktails are expensive, but I’m an eternal optimist so look at it this way instead: You can spend $30 for admission to Top of the Rock where you’ll get great views of the city but will be amongst a sea of tourists trying to take the best selfie with the skyline in the back. Or option B: Spend $20 on a cocktail at Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room and get better views, less crowds, and be able to sip Champagne while you’re at it. To me, this is a no brainer, and a really great way to experience the beauty of New York City.
£10 at The Montage Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills, California
I’ll also preface this suggestion by saying that the drinks are not cheap. Like many of the others on this list, £10 at The Montage is more of a fancy pre-dinner cocktail bar than somewhere you’d spend with your friends on a night out. (Unless your friends are looking for the rarest liquors in the world and they have $3,000 to spend on one drink. If they are, tell them I’m looking for some new friends.) The Whisky Bar is known as the only destination in the U.S. to specialize in The Macallan (was I the only one that didn’t know the company is “The Macallan” and not just Macallan?) Anyway, this is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and not to be missed if you’re in Beverly Hills and with someone who appreciates Whisky much more than I do.
Ok, now to a bar with my most favorite feature- a rooftop. Cindy’s is located at the top of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and the perfect place for a night out with friends. The rooftop is full of natural light with lots of windows and even has an outdoor terrace with firepits, making it ideal year-round for incredible views of the Bean, Millennium Park, and Lake Michigan. If you visit with a group (or you are able to drink 10-15 cocktails on your own…in which I would never encourage) be sure to try the Apothecary Service.
The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan
Las Vegas, Nevada
I love a good chandelier. To be honest, I would have one in every room of my house if my husband would allow it (to my clear, since I live in NYC that’s only one room, but you get the point.) On my first trip to Vegas many years ago, our hotel concierge recommended my girlfriends and I go to The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan and order the flower drink. We did as we were told and never looked back. The drink’s official name is the Verbana which is garnished with a Sichuan flower, which somehow makes your mouth tingle. We even tried to bring a few with us but they quickly died. Nonetheless, it’s worth making a trip here to sip cocktails in the middle of a giant and one-of-a-kind chandelier. It’s so Vegas.
On my first trip to London, numerous friends told me to skip going to the top of the London Eye, and instead go to the top of The Shard. I’m so glad I listened, as the Shard has some of the best views in London. There are actually multiple restaurants and bars in the Shard so you have several options depending on what you’re looking for. We went to Bar 31 which is on the 31st floor and has a three-story atrium bar. My mom and I loved drinking wine with views of the city while the sun was setting.
The Bar at Baccarat Hotel
New York, New York
Staying at the Baccarat Hotel might be a stretch (it’s one of the most expensive hotels in the city) but if you still want to experience the beauty of the first hotel from the Bacarrat brand, I suggest planning a trip to the Bacarrat Bar. Every detail in the hotel from the glasses to chandeliers to the fresh red roses has been perfectly thought of. Grab a seat in the prettiest lobby bar you’ve ever seen, pop into the full bar or step outside to the terrace, and enjoy a glass of bubbly at the Bacarrat.
Asheville, North Carolina
You’ve probably noticed I don’t have many breweries on this list, and that’s mostly because I don’t really drink beer. That being said, my husband does so I have been to a LOT over the last few years. If you haven’t been to Asheville, I highly suggest adding it to your bucket list. It’s one of our favorite places for a long weekend getaway. One fun fact my husband found the first time we visited was that Asheville has the most breweries per capita in the U.S. I actually enjoyed many of them but if you need to pick just one- I would recommend Wicked Weed. Wicked Weed has some of the most unique beers I’ve ever tasted and their staff is extremely knowledgeable. They offer tours, have a pub, full brewery, a “Funkatorium” and tasting rooms. Whether you like beer or not, I suggest checking out their pub, which offers a wide selection of Wicked Weed as well as a full bar, so there is something for everyone.
Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle
New York, New York
Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle is one of my favorite places to have a cocktail in New York. The bar is located at one of the most iconic hotels and includes the only public display of artwork in the world from Ludwig Bemelman. The first time I entered the bar, I was thrilled to notice the large mural from one of my favorite children’s books: Madeline. The cocktails here are incredible and I highly suggest ordering a martini. They make them strong and even give you a small carafe (called a “sidecar”) on the side so you can enjoy a little more than what fits in the glass. Adding to the ambiance is live music every night of the week and not to be missed is the 24-karat gold leaf ceiling.
The Broken Shaker
The Broken Shaker is the perfect Miami spot when you want to enjoy a cocktail outdoors without having to reserve a day bed or buy a bottle. Located in the Freehand Hotel, the bar is basically a poolside tiki bar with great drinks and a laid-back vibe. Miami was the first Freehand Hotel, which now has locations in Chicago, LA, and New York. Each of them have different restaurants but Broken Shaker has become their staple cocktail bar. I’ve been to three out of four of the Broken Shaker locations but Miami is by far my favorite. You can’t go wrong with any of the cocktails which change frequently. Just make sure you enjoy them next to the pool in one of the neon Acapulco chairs.
The Cocktail Club
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston has one of the best restaurant scenes in my opinion, but the city also has some of the best cocktail bars too. The Cocktail Club (I know, not the most unique name, but at least you know what to expect) is a speakeasy on Upper King Street above The Macintosh restaurant. This is a great option year-round, as they have fireplaces and a rooftop terrace. The Cocktail Club focuses on rare liquors, homemade infusions and fresh ingredients from scratch. They also offer cocktail classes and different memberships which makes it a little more special than many of the other places nearby.
Queens, New York
I’ve lived in Queens for a few years now and I am amazed at how many places I had never heard of prior to my move (and prior to Amazon) and Dutch Kills is one of the first places I fell in love with. New York City has no shortage of speakeasies but most of them are pretentious and unwelcoming. Dutch Kills is the opposite of that. They have a huge selection of liquor but what really shines are the cocktails. You have to be careful with specialty cocktails, as some are pure sugar and end with a 2-day headache, but I always look forward to trying something new here. The bartenders help guide you when you’re interested, but they also don’t judge for ordering a Tito’s and soda. The thing I love most about this place is that they aren’t afraid to have a packed bar, which makes the atmosphere that much more fun. It’s also very important to note that the bar has a “secret” sandwich shop called Hendu’s inside. What more could you ask for?
Arnaud's French 75
New Orleans, Louisiana
Arnaud’s is one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans and still continues to be one of the best. While I recommend having a meal there should you have time, I also would recommend starting off with a drink next door at the French 75 bar. New Orleans has many great cocktails (and I’m not referring to Hurricanes) and the rich history of the city shines through at this place. You can’t go wrong with anything on their list, but of course the best seller is the French 75. What I found equally as fun about this place is the Mardi Gras Museum, which is one floor up from the bar and you can even take your drink with you while you explore.
3 Arts Club Cafe
Located inside Restoration Hardware in the Gold Coast is the hidden gem that is 3 Arts Club Café. The space includes an indoor courtyard, an espresso bar and a wine room which makes it one of the most beautiful furniture stores I’ve ever seen. The atrium-like ceiling lets in natural light and the room is filled with olive trees, so you feel like you’re outside no matter what time of year it is. The focal point is a massive chandelier in the center of the courtyard which is the perfect view for a glass of wine any time of day.
Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel
New York, New York
There is no shortage of great cocktail bars in New York City, which makes it hard to pick your favorites. That being said, I would always recommend making a point to go to Rose Bar. Located in the Gramercy Park Hotel, this is the perfect place for great cocktails, sexy scenery and bold artwork. This dimly-lit bar can be hard to get in to at times, as it’s a favorite of many celebrities and musicians, who occasionally give exclusive performances. The artwork rotates but has included pieces from Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst (to name a few.) Within Rose Bar is also Jade Bar so I would advise making time to have a cocktail (or two) at both.
The Surf Lodge
Montauk, New York
If you’re a New Yorker, you may cringe at this recommendation but I am going to make it anyway. The Surf Lodge is actually a hotel (which I won’t recommend because I’ve never actually stayed there) but it’s the go-to spot for drinks in the summer. Is it full of former frat dudes? Yes. Is it harder to get in to at times than the White House? Yes. But is it always a guaranteed fun time? Yes. To me, this is one of my favorite places to go in the summer when I’m in the Hamptons. The Surf Lodge has a huge outdoor patio and one of the best places to watch the sunset. They have live music constantly and get some huge names to play concerts on the deck. It may be rowdy at times so I suggest going earlier in the night before it’s too crowded.
Nick's English Hut
If you aren’t from Indiana, chances are you’ve never heard of Nick’s English Hut. But if you are, or if you’ve ever gone to an IU basketball game, then you know why it’s on my list. Nick’s is in the heart of Bloomington on Indiana University’s campus where I went to college. I may be biased but IU has one of the most beautiful campus’ in the country and worth visiting if you haven’t. There are no shortage of bars in Bloomington but Nick’s was always known as one of the best. It’s been around forever and has such a rich history in the town of Bloomington. It was also notoriously the one bar that you didn’t try to use your fake ID at (or so I heard?) Nick’s has great food (especially the fries) and great drinks, but the real reason you should check it out is to play “Sink the Biz” which is a silver bucket lined drinking game in which you go around the table pouring beer into until someone sinks it. Ok, now that I’m writing this I realize it’s actually pretty gross. But man is it fun! They even sell the game so you can play it in your own home. Which you will.
King Cole Bar at the St. Regis
New York, New York
The St. Regis is one of the most iconic hotels in New York (it’s on my favorite hotels list here) and equally as iconic is the King Cole Bar. The famous bar is known as the home of the original Bloody Mary and is the perfect place for a cocktail (or high tea) when you need a break from shopping on Fifth Avenue. Each St. Regis has their own version of Bloody Mary which are inspired by New York’s “Red Snapper” which was created in the 1930’s. The focal point of the bar is the huge “King Cole” mural by Maxfield Parrish which has been in the hotel since the 1930’s. If you’re looking to splurge, you can reserve Table 55, which is one of the most exclusive tables in New York and comes with a price tag of $2,500 for the night. Call me if you need someone to join you!
RM Champagne Salon
I’m a huge fan of Champagne so finding a place dedicated to an extensive selection was really exciting for me. This cute little French restaurant and speakeasy is tucked away on a cobblestone street in the West Loop of Chicago. The space feels like you are going to a friend’s house in Paris with antique mirrors lining the walls. In the summer, you can sit out front on their cute patio that has a few seats outside. This is the perfect place to enjoy oysters and a glass of Champagne with your girlfriends.
The Bowery Hotel Bar
New York, New York
The Bowery Hotel was only a few blocks from my old East Village apartment so this was a go-to for pre-dinner cocktails or dinner at Gemma (also in the hotel.) The hotel is always filled with celebrities and the lobby and bar area is no exception. The lobby and bar are only open to hotel guests (so you have to be extra nice or get really lucky if you’re not staying there) but once you get in, you’ll appreciate the exclusivity. It’s never overly crowded, has an upscale Lower East Side vibe, and makes the best Espresso Martini I’ve ever had.