Chefs, for the most part, like to drink. So, on the final day of Cocktail Week, seven of them share where they like to get their booze around the world. Among the selections are some of the world's most renowned and hottest cocktail bars, such as PDT in New York City, the charming patio of The Broken Shaker in Miami, and the birthplace of the Negroni Sbagliato, Milan's Bar Basso. There are also some dives on this list, such as the rock-and-roll vibe of Slim's Downtown in Raleigh.
Here now, Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, New York City), Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia, Chicago), Ashley Christensen (Poole's Diner, Raleigh), Jonathon Sawyer (Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland), Michael Schwartz (Michael's Genuine, Miami), Bryan Voltaggio (Volt, Frederick, MD), and Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar, New York City) share where they like to grab a drink and why.
PDT, New York City. [Photo: Noah Kalina]
PDT: Jim Meehan has created a timeless watering hole that is distinctly New York. The cocktails are killer, the service is on point and, no doubt, I love the ability to satisfy my hunger with one easy step. (Who wouldn't want a Humm dog and fries?) The décor and no standing room rule makes this an easy spot to sip a few, have great conversation, or just lose yourself for a few hours.
Raines Law Room: A real throwback to old New York. I'm a huge fan of the turn-of-the-century meets speakeasy vibe. They have consistently put out some of the best drinks in the city all the while creating an exclusive atmosphere... time stops down there; true nod to the classics.
The Bar at Husk: We've spent some late nights here when we are in Charleston to see our friend chef Sean Brock. They have great bourbon, outstanding music, and a very laid back, low country vibe. This is the kind of joint I could stay in for hours — laughing, toasting, sharing stories, you name it. This is a gem.
The Aviary: Grant [Achatz] and Nick [Kokonas] have created a place that is in a league of its own. I usually find myself at the Aviary whenever I'm in Chicago. From the cocktail ingenuity to the creatively executed food, this is one of the most convivially modern places out there. The Office downstairs is a top-notch drink spot and should also be frequented by many!
Bar Basso, Milan. [Photo: Bar Basso]
One of the classic old-school bars in Milan is Bar Basso. They came up with this drink called the Negroni Sbagliato, which means a mistake or a bungled Negroni. So rather than gin, they add prosecco in sort of a lighter version of it. It's really quite delicious. A little bit lighter. [My wife Cathy Mantuano and I] included it in our cookbook Wine Bar Food because we loved it so much. And it's just the whole tradition there of the aperitivo and all the little snacks that they bring out while you're enjoying your Negroni Sbagliato is one of the great pleasures of the world. I would say 20 years ago is when we first became aware of it and every time we're in Milan we go back there all the time. The very civilized thing to do, an aperitivo with the Negroni Sbagliato.
There's one other incredible margarita that I had in Mexico that they muddled a serrano chile and it was so awesome. It was all those good things about the chile oil that make you happy along with tequila and it was in the St. Regis hotel [in Punta Mita]. It was just one of those memorable cocktails that you can't wait to go back and try again or try at home. It's amazing.
Slim's Downtown, Raleigh, NC. [Photo: Slim's Downtown]
As a fan and participant in the sport of libation, I love and appreciate most bars that you can imagine. I own a craft cocktail bar, and frequent them for education and enjoyment while traveling. As much as I value a perfectly chilled glass, a hand-cut pristinely clear two-by-two rock of ice, or a freshly pulled glistening orange zest romanced with an igniting hint of flame... my heart belongs to the dirty rock-and-roll bar.
The bar that I call home is Slim's Downtown. Cracking cold beers since 1999, Slim's is my haunt for the daily cure. Live music spans from country to death metal, an offering nearly as diverse as the clientele. There are no barrel-aged bourbon cocktails, and no celery bitters, no salumi... hell, there might not even be a vacuum in the place. However, the bartenders know what a double is, and that sometimes canned grapefruit juice is the perfect choice. My favorite Slim's barkeep, Abe (an engineer by day), makes fun of my "fancy-ass expensive bar," but grins ear-to-ear when I drag him down there for a Boulevardier. He gets it... They get it... They get me. From the looks of all of the familiar faces at the bar each day, they get us all. That's a great bar.
Bar a Vins Tateru Yoshino, Tokyo. [Photo: Park Hotel Tokyo]
Love the Bar at Park Hotel in Ginza, 30-some-odd floors above the masses in Tokyo. The service and style is so elegantly understated Japan. The design is dark as twilight, hard oak everywhere, oversized leather aviator chairs surrounding the unadorned bar. Here, cocktails are a conversation and the execution is equal parts artisan precision and ingredient worship. Order "something with calvados and/or whiskey" and barkeep Kenji Ishida will briskly walk behind the oak wall and retrieve a wooden tray of mise en place such as aged sherry, an ice sculpting pick, a crystal stirring jar, Boulard XO Calvados, a hunk of ice, some botanical bitters, Japanese whiskey Hibiki 12 and a stunning Fujisaki apple. Sip, chat, smoke and enjoy. Also, when in Chicago, I love the dedication and execution of the bar at The Violet Hour. Always a stop for my wife Amelia and I.
The Broken Shaker, Miami. [Photo: The Freehand]
Broken Shaker. Best cocktail bar in Miami. The owner Elad Zvi is this crazy Israeli and a really good friend of mine. The bar itself is tiny, tucked away in the Freehand Miami on Midbeach. Any given night of the week, the crowd spills out into the courtyard under a canopy of trees lit by string lights creating this amazing energy. Potted herbs and citrus trees (no joke!) are set to the back, picked for drinks, especially the nightly-changing punch bowls. It's like an exceptionally curated thrift store — great glassware, lots of cool period stuff scattered about like no one thought about it, but you know they did and that's the magic of it. You go, have a great hand-crafted cocktail, relax with friends and meet some new ones. We make a habit of taking friends in town there. It's one of the obligatory stops. They've captured something really special. It makes you want to go back again and again.
The Passenger, Washington, DC. [Photo: R. Lopez]
Buckeystown Pub in Frederick, Maryland, has been a favorite since back when I was a kid. You could sit at the bar as a kid, watch deer get skinned in the butcher shop and have a tall boy and a shot. Where boys become men. Other favorites are Jose Andres' barmini and The Passenger in DC.
The Broken Shaker, Miami. [Photo: Facebook]
One of my favorite parts of going to Miami is hanging at The Broken Shaker. It's a bar out back, partially poolside to the hostel in front. It's chill, refreshing, brings the creative vibe, and is no-nonsense (requirements in my book for a good bar). They make great drinks, and there's plenty of room to meet friends or make new ones.