“That’s when it hit me: ‘Okay, if I mess this up, my career is basically over.’ The pressure hit for a moment, for those two hours, and then I was back. I was okay after.”
served on a big rock, and take in a stellar musical lineup at night that rivals those of spots in downtown Nashville. Yep, I love this place. 102 East Palestine Avenue —K. S.
CAFE LA TROVA
Deep in Little Havana is chef Michelle Bernstein and barman Julio Cabrera’s homage to 1950s Santiago de Cuba. Cabrera is the keeper of the cantinero tradition, the hospitable, well-groomed style of bartending that originated in Cuba. It’s the real deal here, with focused drinks that go beyond the mojito (although they make an excellent one). Try the Presidente; it will put in doubt your loyalty to the manhattan. 971 SW Eighth Street —K. S.
With a wrap-around bar, starlight ceiling, and mod furniture, Mama Tried is like an idealized ’70s Las Vegas bar that crash-landed in downtown Miami.
While manufactured dives can drip in irony, this place gets the delightful scuzzy details just right. Bonus to the cheap beers and cigarette machine: excellent cocktails.
207 NE First Street —K. S.
The design? Luxe terrarium bunker. The location? Tucked beneath Korean steakhouse Cote. The vibe? Exotic, classy, and unabashedly fun. And the cocktails match, thanks to the creative effort of head bartender Sondre Kasin. Try the artisanal Red Bull vodka made with a homemade energy drink and Champagne. 16 West Twentysecond Street —K. S.
Sometimes you need to be discreet. In fact, sometimes you want to meet someone in a dark, plush corner of an Ian Schrager hotel bar that’s eleven floors above Times Square. That kind of discreet. You want the rendezvous to feel as dressed up and hassle-free as a Roxy Music song, so you decide
Rule No. 290 SORRY. A MARTINI SIPPED THROUGH A CRAZY STRAW IS NO LONGER A MARTINI.
on 701West, where Michelinstarred chef John Fraser is cooking the bar snacks and where sips like the Jasmine French sound as if they could be James Bond characters. Don’t ask and we won’t tell. 701 Seventh Avenue, Eleventh Floor —J. G.
Rita Sodi and Jody Williams, the partners behind the beloved Via Carota, know that details matter, and Bar Pisellino is a veritable shrine to those details. Amberhued and humming all day long, it is not an Italian bar as much as it is an eccentrically romantic fantasia of what you imagine a bar in Italy could be. If Sophia Loren suddenly walked in, you would not be shocked. 52 Grove Street —J. G.
TIPPLE & RAMBLE
If I were to design the perfect central-California wine bar, I would put it outside, so that drinkers could soak in the West Coast sunshine, swing in a hammock, order some empanadas and a platter of mezes and a bottle of Grüner Veltliner, and drink and eat at tiled picnic tables under an awning in the backyard. I don’t have to dream that up, though, because Tipple & Ramble already exists. 315 North Montgomery Street —J. G.
Fiume feels like a studioapartment punk-rock pop-up even though it has been in operation for two decades. Last call comes
when the bartender bangs a cymbal hanging from the ceiling. (“I’ve got a mallet for it,” he’ll tell you.) But watch how that bartender peels fresh citrus, grabs you a chilled glass, painstakingly eyeballs the ingredients in your Ortolan. This is a bar where people care—even if they act like they don’t. 229 South Forty-fifth Street —J. G.
FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY To get an idea of the ambition of the drinks at Friday Saturday Sunday, ask bartender Paul MacDonald to explain the cocktails he makes based on the Fibonacci sequence. They are mysteriously round yet angular. And delicious. But this place is far from precious—it’s always friendly, and hopping. You’ll run into someone you know any second now. 261 South Twenty-first Street —K. S.
The dark, dim bar Martuni’s is a San Francisco institution where everyone is welcome. The green neon outline of a familiar cocktail glass draws you in for one thing: a martini—large, strong, ice-cold gin or vodka? Lemon twist or olive? Dirty or extra dirty? You won’t be judged for your preference. Stay for the piano bar in the back, which on any given night is packed with locals singing loudly, joyfully in unison. 4 Valencia Street —Omar Mamoon
If you have ever daydreamed about converting your place of habitation into a drinking establishment, consider Bottlehouse, the incarnation of your wish. It’s an actual house in the middle of the yoga-mom magnet that is Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood. Sit by the window, or out on the patio when the sun deigns to show up. The beverage list goes beyond wine and ventures knowingly into ciders, vermouths, sherries, and Pacific Northwest beers. You live here now, so you have time to try them all. 1416 Thirtyfourth Avenue —J. G.