This season brings with it a number of important bar openings, notable not only for their impressive drink lists and the individuals behind them, but also for the industry trends they embody. The country’s most daring bar is expanding, several notable landmark spots are getting a makeover, low-ABV cocktails are becoming further entrenched in the bar landscape and natural wine, perhaps not surprisingly, continues to drive the wine scene in many cities. But there are more esoteric concepts on the list this season, from a Seattle bar looking to define what Pacific Northwest tiki looks like to an arcade bar that serves drinks in repurposed kids’ toys. And, following a trend that has been building for several years now, a handful of bars are looking to find their own unique balance between highbrow and lowbrow. 

Here, now, our picks for the most notable new and forthcoming bar openings in America from January through August 2017.

New York

The Aviary

What: The first outpost of the innovative Chicago bar, which will accompany an adjacent speakeasy called The Office.
Who: The Alinea group (Alinea, Roister, The Aviary).
Where: The 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental at Columbus Circle.
When: Summer 2017
Why it’s important: As the first venture outside of Chicago for the group, The Aviary and The Office will test whether New York, which has traditionally been a bit allergic to high-end cocktail experiences, has an appetite for molecular mixology in a more formal setting. 

Diamond Reef

What: A pseudo-tropical bar with simple, playful drinks, like the Penichillin—a frozen take on Sam Ross’s modern-classic Penicillin.
Who: Michael McIlroy, Sam Ross and Dan Greenbaum, all of Attaboy.
Where: Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
When: March 2017
Why it’s important: A departure from the dimly lit Attaboy, Diamond Reef represents a more casual approach to drink-making that balances the group’s attention to detail with an irreverent playfulness.

Diamond Reef

The Embassy

What: A bar within the old Nassau brewing caves that will house two concepts: one, in Angus Winchester’s words, “more populist and egalitarian” and the other, dubbed The Residence, “a bit quieter and upscale.”
Who: Angus Winchester, renowned British bartender and one of the architects of the modern cocktail renaissance. 
Where: Within the former Nassau Brewing building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
When: Spring 2017
Why it’s important: The first venture into ownership for Winchester, The Embassy will showcase his knowledge of global drinking traditions, from how to drink pisco in Peru to soju in Korea.

The Landmark Rooms

What: Major Food Group’s takeover of the former Four Seasons space, which will aim to preserve many aspects of the iconic power-dining setting while undergoing an estimated $30 million renovation.
Who: Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick and beverage director Thomas Waugh.
Where: The Seagram Building in Midtown, Manhattan.
When: Spring/Summer 2017
Why it’s important: It’s without a doubt one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings in recent years and will likely remain so for many more to come. All eyes are watching as the team faces the challenge of preserving the legacy of the space while realizing their own vision.

Evil Twin Brewery and Taproom

What: A 10,000-square-foot brewery and taproom with outdoor seating area.
Who: Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, owner of Evil Twin Brewing and the beer bar Tørst.
Where: In a former banquet hall in Ridgewood, Queens.

When: Spring/Summer 2017
Why it’s important: The new space will allow Evil Twin to significantly increase production of their acclaimed beers and establish its identity as a New York brand. It will also give the brewery the opportunity to experiment with special batches and grow collaborations with restaurants like Mission Chinese, the NoMad and Blanca.  

Loverboy

What: A dive/cocktail bar similar to sister bar Mother’s Ruin, “but with pizza.”
Who: T.J. Lynch of Mother’s Ruin.
Where: East Village / Alphabet City.
When: Spring 2017
Why it’s important: Lynch expands his wildly successful formula at Mother’s Ruin east of Bowery. And who can argue with the addition of pizza? Expect his high-low style and love of frozen cocktails to be on full display.

Los Angeles

Bar Clacson

What: A cocktail bar modeled after a French tabac with a focus on low-ABV cocktails and games.
Who: Eric Alperin (The Varnish), Richard Boccato (Dutch Kills and Fresh Kills), Cedd Moses and Eric Needleman of 213 Hospitality team.
Where: Downtown
When: January 2017
Why it’s important: This much-anticipated collaboration is as important as Diamond Reef in its goal to be a neighborhood bar that just so happens to serve world-class cocktails (in this case, many that skew low-ABV). As the casual cocktail bar continues to evolve, Bar Clacson offers an important look forward.

Bar Clacson

San Francisco

Obispo

What: A rum-focused bar from Thad Vogler, the owner of acclaimed bars Trou Normand and Bar Agricole.
Who: Thad Vogler
Where: 24th Street in the Mission.
When: May 2017
Why it’s important: Vogler is going all-in on his longtime love of rum with a Mission bar dedicated to it and named after his onetime address in Havana. Further details are scant, but Obispo will serve food, and there will be, surely, a strong list of of carefully curated rums.

Petit Marlowe

What: A Burgundy-focused wine and raw bar spin-off of the hit restaurant Marlowe.
Who: Anna Weinberg, James Nicholas, Jennifer Puccio (Marlowe, Leo’s Oyster Bar, etc.) and Mark Bright (formerly of Les Clos) on wine. 
Where: The former Les Clos space in SoMa.
When: May 2017
Why it’s important: 
With a wine-friendly menu, Petit Marlowe is a showcase for Bright’s extensive wine knowledge and further evidence of Big Night’s Midas touch.

Bar Crenn

What: Dominique Crenn’s take on a wine bar, focused on natural and biodynamic wines and low-ABV cocktails.
Who: Dominique Crenn and sommelier Matt Montrose, of Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn.
Where: Next door to Atelier Crenn in Cow Hollow.
When: Spring 2017
Why it’s important: Offering a more casual alternative to Crenn’s lauded tasting menu-focused restaurants, Bar Crenn will be a “wine bar in the Parisian mold,” as she told the San Francisco Chronicle, and a way to experience Crenn’s food, Montrose’s wine IQ and an aperitif without breaking the bank.

Forthcoming Bar from the Lazy Bear Team

What: A two-concept cocktail bar from the Lazy Bear team featuring a ticketed cocktail tasting menu experience in back and a more traditional bar in front.
Who: Lazy Bear’s bar manager Nicolas Torres and chef David Barzelay.
Where: the Mission.
When: May/June 2017
Why it’s important: It’s a promising entry into the high-concept cocktail bar canon, joining tasting menu joints like LA’s The Walker Inn (which has a similar low-key front bar—Normandie Club—and back-room tasting experience) and Washington, D.C.’s Columbia Room.

Seattle

Navy Strength

What: A tiki(ish) bar spin-off from the Rob Roy team inspired by the tropics, travel and Seattle’s position as a maritime hub. 
Who: Anu Apte (Rob Roy) and Chris Elford (Proletariat, Canon).
Where: Next door to the couple’s other spin-off, the beer bar No Anchor, in Belltown. 
When: March 2017
Why it’s important: 
With Apte and Elford at the helm, it’s already slated to be one of the biggest openings of the year. But how the couple plans to venture outside of rum and Polynesian pop for their own take on tiki is bound to make the bar an important entry in the evolution of the genre. 

Washington, D.C.

A Rake’s Bar at the LINE Hotel

What: A southern-inspired bar from Corey Polyoka of Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen focused on ingredients and drink traditions native to the area.
Who: Beverage Director Corey Polyoka and chef Spike Gjerde.
Where: Inside the new LINE Hotel in Adams Morgan.
When: May 2017
Why it’s important: Polyoka is bringing his hyper-regional approach at Woodberry to D.C. and testing the necessity-as-mother-of-invention principle. The bar program that will eschew the use of citrus (vinegar and verjus will act as regular stand-ins), rely on fresh-pressed sorghum for sweetening (no processed sugar) and explore forgotten local drink traditions and ingredients. Also coming to the LINE: A lobby bar called Brothers and Sisters, where spirits guru Todd Thrasher (PX, Restaurant Eve) will run the cocktail and wine programs.

Chicago

Otto Mezzo Bar

What: A deco-inspired “late-night Italian cocktail bar.”
Who: Bartender Brandon Phillips and chef Kevin Hickey, of Duck Inn.
Where: In the old Ay Chiwowa space in River North. 
When: Spring 2017
Why it’s important: Phillips is extending his partnership with chef Kevin Hickey to explore what is essentially the inverse of an Italian aperitivo bar. According to Eater, expect large-format drinks, spiked gelato and espresso cocktails. 

Houston

Tongue-Cut Sparrow

What: A 25-seat Japanese-inspired cocktail bar with a focus on the classics.
Who: Bobby Heugel of The Pastry War and Anvil Bar & Refuge.
Where: Behind the The Pastry War in Downtown.
When: January 2017
Why it’s important: Heugel opened Tongue-Cut Sparrow without any warning earlier this year, and the more formal service marks a departure from his previous bars, and proves that he and his team are truly headed for world domination. Also: Japanese whisky. 

Tongue Cut Sparrow

Boston

A4Cade

What: A speakeasy-style arcade bar behind Roxy’s Grilled Cheese serving playful riffs on classic cocktails and a heavy dose of childhood nostalgia.
Who: Bar manager Tainah Soares (formerly of Trina’s Starlight Lounge) and the teams behind Area Four and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese.
Where: Cambridge
When: January 2017
Why it’s important: Another entry for the highbrow-lowbrow category, A4Cade has been drawing long lines for drinks like frozen Painkillers in kids’ cups and bottled Aperol Spritzes with curly straws. They also offer drinks that come in “two player” versions (to share) and magnums of Champagne that arrive with a mustache, a la “P.I.”

Nashville

Attaboy

What: An offshoot of the original Attaboy location that will inhabit a much roomier 1,800-square-foot space with a small outdoor patio. True to the original, opened in 2013 in the former Milk & Honey space, the Nashville Attaboy will not provide menus.
Who: Michael McIlroy and Sam Ross of Attaboy, with partner Jason Seiden.
Where: Behind a retail shop with an unmarked entrance in East Nashville.
When: Spring 2017
Why it’s important: The bar team behind Attaboy are the closest thing to a direct lineage from the late innovator Sasha Petraske. Their decision to open a branch in the heart of Nashville represents a significant change of pace (and possibly inspiration) for the Attaboy crew.

Louisville

Whiskey Dry

What: A casual whiskey and burger bar featuring over 200 whiskeys from around the world.
Who: Chef Edward Lee (610 Magnolia, Milkwood, Succotash), Milkwood GM Stacie Stewart and spirits writer Noah Rothbaum.
Where: Fourth Street Live in Downtown.
When: Spring 2017
Why it’s important: Lee’s take promises to depart from the classic, stuffy image of the whiskey bar and make the subject accessible to novices and experts alike, and Rothbaum is sure to stack the list with authority. 

Other notable openings:

Hitachino Beer & Wagyu (SF): Hitachino Beer’s first stateside outpost serving food Kappo-style alongside their beers, several of which are exclusive to the taproom.

Birds & Bees (LA): A new hidden bar beneath an office building in Downtown LA serving up a short list of inventive riffs on classic midcentury cocktails.

Les Sablons (Boston): A multi-level restaurant in Cambridge with a bar program headed up by the The Hawthorne‘s Jackson Cannon that promises to be a “rambunctious, first floor, neighborhood cocktail party.” 

PAGU (Boston): A buzzy Japanese-inspired tapas restaurant with a beverage list helmed by Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli (formerly Island Creek Oyster Bar) featuring a long list of cider, sherry and sake poured alongside an inventive list of cocktails that look to the kitchen for inspiration. 

BEATNIK (Chicago): A new bar from the crew behind The Drifter and Bordel with a beverage program from The Drifter’s Liz Pearce.

Palizzi Social Club (Philadelphia): A revamp of an old-school Italian social club (which opened in 1918) in South Philly revamped with a cocktail program from Vincent Stipo (formerly a.bar and Vernick Food & Drink). Membership costs $20, and is limited.

Free State (Washington, D.C.): A new Chinatown bar from the team behind Lost & Found focused on drinks (like the venerable Orange Crush) and ingredients from the Mid-Atlantic.

Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co. (Charleston): A new standalone brewery and restaurant (complete with oft-mentioned Polish smoker) from the crew behind the beloved Charleston beer bar, Edmund’s Oast.

The Campbell (New York): A revamp of the historic Campbell Apartment within Grand Central under the direction of the The Gerber Group (Whiskey Blue, Mr. Purple).

The Wooly Public (New York): A new bar in the historic Woolworth Building (the only space open to the public, in fact) from Eryn Reece (Death & Co., Mayahuel) and chef Jeff Srole (Maison Premiere, Craft). 

Forthcoming Justin Yu/Bobby Heugel Project (Houston): An eagerly awaited project from two of Houston heavy hitters reported to be opening in the Heights in the spring or summer of 2017. Details forthcoming. 

Goodnight Charlie’s (Houston): A honky-tonk from master sommelier David Keck that promises a selection of Texas wine on tap, simple cocktails and live music. 

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