Esquire just released its highly anticipated “Best Bars in America” list, an annual compilation by cocktail historian David Wondrich. The eclectic lineup ranges from a swanky cocktail parlor on the West Coast to a total dive bar (a category Wondrich adores) in the East.
PUNCH quizzed Wondrich on his method of compilation, which has had him exploring celebrated and hidden gems across America for years. “Fortunately, I travel quite a bit, and I try to check out all the places,” says Wondrich. “But it’s a big country.”
Lately, he’s observed a trend towards less pretentiousness and more accessibility in bars. “The cocktail bars, for the most part, are trying to be more down to earth,” he says. “More emphasis on hospitality, less so on crazy drinks.”
He is also impressed with the nationwide penetration of the cocktail movement. Wondrich speaks very fondly of smaller cities like Richmond, Virginia, where he visited a good number of great bars and restaurants, including the Roosevelt, which made this year’s list. “The next cocktail destination is just around the corner, you know?” says Wondrich.
What were some of the standouts? “Palmer’s Bar in Minneapolis is just an amazing, old and intense dive. Welcoming to all. Long Island Bar [in Brooklyn] is a new favorite. Stockade Tavern, for people who are in New York. They should get on the train and head up to Kingston. It’s definitely worth a trip,” says Wondrich whose round up hallmark is to pay just as much attention to the old guard as he does to the new.
Head over to Esquire check out the full list. [Esquire]