The change in seasons always brings with it an abundance of noteworthy openings from coast to coast. With a mix of new spaces and concepts from industry veterans and rookie owners alike, this year is no exception. In downtown Los Angeles, Eric Alperin will helm the bar housed inside of an art deco icon, while an upscale grocery store scion will try his hand at serving cocktails and food on the Lower East Side; Washington, D.C. will get an impressive collection of amaro, and a historic New Orleans restaurant will be revived by two of the city’s great bartenders.
Notable on both coasts is the Peruvian-Japanese influence that is at the center of Llama San in New York City and Kaiyo in San Francisco and a general push toward simple cocktails backed up by serious R&D. From the start of a tiki revival in Indianapolis to the latest venture from the Trick Dog team in the Bay Area, here are our picks for the most notable new and forthcoming bar openings this season.
What: An all-day cafe from the team behind Buvette, I Sodi and Via Carota.
Who: Jodi Williams and Rita Sodi
Where: West Village
Why It’s Important: For owners Rita Sodi and Jody Williams, Pisellino is a concept rooted in Italian nostalgia. Situated across from its sister restaurant Via Carota, Pisellino will function as an all-day community-centered spot serving coffee, snacks and cocktails reminiscent of traditional Italian cafes.
What: A bar serving classic cocktails and “unpretentious” food from the team behind Alameda.
Who: Owners of Alameda
Where: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Why It’s Important: Greenpoint has played the overlooked Brooklyn sibling to the cooler, hipper Williamsburg for some time now, but a looming L train shutdown and the opening of places like The Palace promise to help correct that. The owners of local favorite Alameda are looking to serve up “blue-collar” dishes along with drinks in a space where an Irish pub lived for over eight decades.
What: A casual cocktail bar on the Lower East Side, started by the son of a grocery store tycoon.
Who: Oliver Zabar, Sean Saunders (Happiest Hour / Slowly Shirley) and Kilian Robin
Where: Lower East Side
Why It’s Important: Zabar’s is a Manhattan institution, but instead of getting into the family business selling smoked fish and gourmet groceries, Oliver Zabar says he wants to elevate bar food and pair it with great cocktails and a smart wine list. Located in an old tenement building on the Lower East Side, Devon will fuse uptown with downtown, and vintage with modern.
What: A Nikkei-inspired offshoot of Williamsburg’s Llama Inn and the recently opened Llamita sandwich shop in the West Village.
Who: Lynnette Marrero, Erik Ramirez and Juan Correa
Where: West Village
Why It’s Important: With a focus on Nikkei—a term for the cuisine created in the late-19th century by Japanese workers who immigrated to Peru—Llama San will offer a menu that chef Erik Ramirez likens to Peruvian izakaya. Inspired in part by a research trip to Japan, beverage directly Lynnette Marrero will offer a cocktail menu that draws on spirits and ingredients from both countries, plus a selection of coastal wines.
Gage & Tollner
What: A revival of a historic steakhouse that closed its doors in 2004.
Who: St. John Frizell
Where: Downtown Brooklyn
Why It’s Important: St. John Frizell looks to breathe new life into a Brooklyn icon. Teaming up with Ben Schneider and chef Sohui Kim of the Good Fork / Insa, the Fort Defiance owner is looking to revive the Brooklyn landmark steakhouse that first opened in 1879. The concept includes a tropical-style cocktail bar called the Sunken Harbor Club.
What: Retro-themed cocktail bar from the team behind Happiest Hour and Slowly Shirley located upstairs at the new Moxy NYC Downtown hotel.
Who: Jon Neidich, Jim Kearns
Where: Financial District
Why It’s Important: Jon Neidich and the rest of the team behind the Happiest Hour and Slowly Shirley look to the Financial District. With the promise of retro arcade games like Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man, along with a playful menu that includes colorful cocktails like the Margarita al Pastor and Main in the Shade, it promises to be a late-night destination in a neighborhood not known for them.
What: A new bar from the owner of Long Island Bar, with a limited selection of spirits and beer.
Who: Toby Cecchini (Long Island Bar) and Joel Tompkins
Where: Fort Greene, Brooklyn
When: Late September/Early October
Why It’s Important: Despite a pared-down menu with six options per spirit and lighter fare, Rockwell is sure to bring in plenty of Long Island Bar regulars and new Fort Greene neighbors. Although this will be in a smaller space, owners Toby Cecchini and Joel Tompkins ensure the original spirit of his Brooklynite favorite will remain intact.
What: An all-day bar and café offering aperitifs, wine, beer and cocktails.
Who: Claire Sprouse
Where: Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Why It’s Important: For her first solo project, Claire Sprouse, co-founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, aims to highlight sustainable bar initiatives in an accessible neighborhood setting.
What: An all-day cafe and bar with a Japanese-inspired drink menu.
Who: Claire Chan (The Elk), Gil Calderon (Foster Sundry), Gemma Kamin-Korn (Lalito) and Grant Wheeler (Den Hospitality)
Where: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Why It’s Important: In her first Brooklyn endeavor, Claire Chan expands on the success of her West Village cafe, The Elk, broadening the concept with beer, natural wine and cocktails in a beautifully minimal space designed by Isaac Rae.
Hank’s Saloon at Hill Country
What: The iconic Brooklyn dive moves to a food hall.
Who: Hank’s Saloon owner Julie Ipcar
Where: Downtown Brooklyn
Why It’s Important: Hank’s is one of the last bars of its kind in Brooklyn—a home for blue-collar workers, rockabilly bands and plenty of assorted “loonies.” While the dynamic might change after it’s current location closes down and relocates to Hill Country Food Park, at least we don’t have to say goodbye for good.
What: A larger location for Williamsburg’s dimunitive bar of the same name.
Who: Cory Bonfiglio
Where: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Why It’s Important: Williamsburg’s Beer Street is expanding to a new 2,500-square-foot space in Prospect Heights, near the Barclays Center. Owner Cory Bonfiglio is considered one of New York’s preeminent beer buyers and curators—with stints at Cannibal and Proletariat prior to opening Beer Street. Expect a diverse selection of cult favorites, local beers and a new draft wine and cocktail program.
Evil Twin Brewery/Tap Room
What: A massive standalone brewery and taproom for Evil Twin Brewery.
Who: Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø
Where: Ridgewood, Queens
Why It’s Important: After more than two years of setbacks, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, who founded Evil Twin in 2010 and helped open Tørst in 2013, is finally opening a permanent outpost for his brewery. Formerly a banquet hall, the nearly 15,000-square-foot space will house a production facility, an indoor bar, an outdoor beer garden and a year-round greenhouse, plus a permanent food truck from Fette Sau.
The Inferno Room
What: A tiki bar decorated with art pieces from modern tiki artists Dave Hansen and Glen Helzer as well as a collection of 1970s works from the Middle Sepik River region tribes of Papua New Guinea.
Who: Ed Rudisell, Chris Coy, Eli Sanchez
Where: Fountain Square
Why It’s Important: Owners Ed Rudisell and Chris Coy have created a space that both pays homage to the city’s bygone tiki institutions, namely Knobby’s Mai Tai and Kahuna Lounge, the ceramic mugs of which are used at Inferno Room, and paves the way for a tiki revival in Indiana’s capital.
What: A cocktail bar in the former Two Wrongs space.
Who: Tyler Stevens, Billy Hasson
Where: Pearl District
Why It’s Important: Taking its name from the eponymous song by The National, Pink Rabbit will bring “fun” cocktails from former Teardrop Lounge bar manager and Husk bar manager, Tyler Stevens, to the Pearl District.
What: An omakase-style cocktail bar with a 15-drink omakase cocktail menu, from the team behind Oriole.
Who: Julia Momose (Oriole, GreenRiver, The Office)
Where: West Loop
Why It’s Important: Alongside food from chef Noah Sandoval, Kumiko will showcase Momose’s detail-oriented approach with a dealer’s choice menu meant to be unique to each guest.
What: A new bar spotlighting low-ABV and fortified wine cocktails as well as non-alcoholic, CBD-infused drinks.
Who: Jeff Donahue, Wade McElroy (Sportsman’s Club, Estereo, Ludlow Liquors) and Julia McKinley
Where: Logan Square
Why It’s Important: Jeff Donahue and Wade McElroy, alongside beverage director Julia McKinley—who has worked behind the bar at Lost Lake, the Milk Room, Lonesome Rose and Golden Teardrops, all under Paul McGee—will focus on low-proof cocktails in a city known for playing hard.
NoMad Las Vegas
What: An outpost of the of the New York and Los Angeles restaurant and bar from the team behind Eleven Madison Park.
Who: Daniel Humm, Will Guidara, Leo Robitschek
Where: Park MGM
Why It’s Important: With a NoMad-branded hotel, casino, pool, restaurant and bar, there’s no doubt that the NoMad team will live up to their award-winning hospitality. This new addition to The Strip will showcase NoMad’s classic New York flair paired with Vegas-style extravagance.
What: D.C.’s first and only amaro library.
Who: Nicholas Stefanelli
Where: The Wharf
Why It’s Important: Nicholas Stefanelli of Masseria is sharing his collection of nearly 40 contemporary amari and 45 vintage amari dating back to the 1950s, some of which will be served in vintage takes on classic drinks, like the Negroni.
Potomac Distilling Company
What: Bartender and sommelier Todd Thrasher’s rum distillery and tiki cocktail bar.
Who: Todd Thrasher
Where: The Wharf
Why it’s Important: Industry alum Todd Thrasher’s debut distillery is slated to include a trio of bars, including a Polynesian-themed rooftop bar called Tiki TNT. The location will make Thrasher’s flagship line of rum—his first venture into distilling—the centerpiece to the menu. To find it, just look for the 74-foot tall smokestack at the Wharf that spells out “Thrasher’s Rum” on one side, and “Rum Not War” on the other.
What: A new bar from the team behind Barnacle and The Walrus and the Carpenter.
Who: Renee Erickson
Where: Denny Triangle
When: August 31
Why It’s Important: The newest project from chef Renne Erickson is an underwater-themed speakeasy in the Amazon Spheres. The moody, curio-heavy bar is on a fast-track to becoming a Seattle’s most Instagrammed nightlife destination. The menu is heavy on seafood, including a blinged out hot dog with salmon roe and scallop crudo, while the drinks menu offers a balanced mix of original, classic, modern and non-alcoholic cocktails.
What: A tiki bar from the Bar Mezzana team.
Who: Ryan Lotz
Where: South End
Why It’s Important: The team behind Bar Mezzana, helmed by Beverage director Ryan Lotz, formerly of No. 9 Park, is branching out from their coastal Italian roots. Shore Leave adds to Boston’s burgeoning tiki movement (see last fall’s Blossom Bar opening in Brookline), and is likely to draw on some of the same housemade ingredients, like bitters and shrubs, that put Bar Mezzana on the map.
What: Tropical-themed cocktails and a variety of dumplings from the team behind Trick Dog.
Who: Morgan Schick, Josh Harris
Why It’s Important: The endlessly creative team behind Trick Dog are going tropical, doubling down on kitschy decor and inventive drinks (e.g. a Singapore Sling that hinges on “Sherry Herring”) alongside food from chef Wilder Marroquin.
What: A long–awaited rum bar from the owner of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand.
Who: Thad Vogler
Why It’s Important: A pioneer of “less-is-more” spirit lists, Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand continues this philosophy at his new rum bar. Rather than stocking a laundry list of rums, the selection at Obispo will be scarce, but no less impressive, with each hand-picked by Vogler himself.
What: Restaurant/bar in Cow Hollow centered on food and drink of the Japanese population in Peru (lots of Japanese whisky and pisco), from one of the co-founders of Whitechapel and Novela.
Who: Debora Fernandez
Where: Cow Hollow
Why It’s Important: From John Park of Whitechapel and Novela, Kaiyo is San Francisco’s only restaurant dedicated to Nikkei cuisine. Cocktails will heavy on Japanese whisky, sake and pisco.
What: A second tiki bar from Future Bars Group, which also operates Pagan Idol and Bourbon & Branch, among others.
Who: Future Bars Group
Why It’s Important: With Trader Vic alumnus Daniel “Doc” Parks at the helm, Zombie Village straddles the line between tiki’s past and present. The bar takes its name from a bygone Bay Area tiki oasis owned by Skipper Kent, while the interior will prominently feature installations from contemporary tiki artists Bamboo Ben and Ivan Mora.
What: Rum and natural wine from an ABV and Trou Normand alum in the Mission.
Who: Eric Ochoa, J. De Natale
Why It’s Important: ABV, Bar Agricole and Trou Normand alum Eric Ochoa is reinventing the former Bar San Pacho space. There’s no official opening date yet, but he’s teased the possible inclusion of natural wines, rum, mezcal, pisco and tequila.
What: The first solo project from Jennifer Colliau, current beverage director of The Interval and owner of Small Hand Foods.
Who: Jennifer Colliau
Where: Uptown Oakland
Why It’s Important: With more than two decades of bar experience to her name, Jennifer Colliau finally strikes out on her own. Though details are scarce, Here’s How takes its name and inspiration from the 1941 cocktail book of the same name.
What: A brewery, cocktail concept and restaurant from 213 Hospitality in LA’s Union Station.
Who: Cedd Moses, Eric Alperin, David Lentz
Where: Union Station
Why It’s Important: The team behind some of LA’s most popular bars, including Bar Clacson, The Varnish, Bar Jackalope and Caña Rum Bar, will take over the historic art deco Union Station space, continuing their Downtown expansion. The on-site brewery and brewpub, Imperial Western Beer Co., will specialize in sour beer, while the cocktail bar—The Streamliner—will be helmed by Alperin.
What: A 12-seat omakase-style restaurant from one of LA’s most inventive barmen.
Who: Matthew Biancaniello
Why It’s Important: The author of Eat Your Drink is back behind the bar after some time and will double down on his penchant for inventive culinary cocktails in upscale digs right off Pacific Coast Highway.
Jewel of the South
What: A fine dining restaurant styled after a 19th century establishment of the same name.
Who: Nick Detrich, Chris Hannah
Where: French Quarter
Why It’s Important: Chris Hannah is something of a local legend in the Big Easy. As the head bartender at the classic Arnaud’s French 75 (for a whopping 14 years), he reintroduced the Brandy Crusta to its home city and helped revive the bar. Hannah has finally left his prestigious post to team up with Nick Detrich (formerly of Cane and Table) to bring fine dining and great cocktails to the French Quarter.
What: A tropical-themed cocktail bar with drinks by Daniele Dalla Pola who made a name for himself at the tiki-inspired Nu-Lounge Bar in Bologna, Italy.
Who: Graziano Sborggio, Daniele Dalla Pola
Where: Arts and Entertainment District
Why It’s Important: Despite boasting the most tropical climate in the mainland U.S., Miami has a surprising dearth of tropical-inspired bars. Dalla Pola hopes to shift the tide with this latest venture, which will serve his take on a number of tiki classics, including Don’s Special Daiquiri.
Other Notable Openings:
Melfi’s (Charleston): A Roman-style pizza restaurant from Brooks Reitz (Leon’s Oyster Shop, Little Jack’s Tavern, Jack Rudy) with a cocktail program focused on Italian classics and amari.
Cøllect (Detroit): A Scandinavian-influenced beer bar on the second floor of the Eastern Market building inspired by Brooklyn’s Tørst.
The Longfellow Bar (Boston): A new two-story bar directly above Alden & Harlow in the former Cafe Algiers space.
Machine (Chicago): A bar led by beverage director and The Violet Hour vet Aneka Saxon that promises “engineered dining and drink” with an emphasis on local flavors
Undercote (New York): A Champagne- and cocktail-focused bar under Simon Kim’s Michelin-starred Korean steakhouse, Cote.