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Food Writers and Experts on the Best Drinking of 2013

Illustration: Eric Lebofsky

There's no better time than the end of yet another year on this planet to celebrate drinking, so today it's time to take a look at the best new drinking of 2013. In the latest of Eater's ongoing series of year-end survey questions, about 30 food writers and friends of the site recommend their favorite new bars (or other drinking establishments) that have opened this year anywhere in the world.

Naturally, these haunts include one of the hottest craft beer bars of the year (Tørst, New York City), as well as some of the world's best new wine bars (Vin Papillon, Montreal; and La Buvette de Camille, Paris). There are also restaurants with strong bar programs (Alder, New York; Saison, San Francisco) and, of course, cocktail bars that are already gaining widespread acclaim (Paper Plane, Decatur; Dead Rabbit, New York City; Gen Yamamoto, Tokyo). And don't miss Ryan Sutton's story explaining why he loves the cocktails at New York newcomer Carbone. A surprising number of these writers and experts were teetotalers in 2013, but they've got some recommendations when it comes to coffee drinking, too. Here we go:


Ben Leventhal, Eater Co-Founder:

A drink at Monsieur Bleu stands out for its spectacular setting. The negroni at Harry's Bar really is the negroni that dreams are made of. Stateside, I am forever and unconditionally committed to Milk & Honey, this time in their new base of Madison Avenue digs.

Amanda Kludt, Eater Editorial Director:

I consistently love the drinks at Gwynnett St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was a little pretentious and the drinks were slightly overwrought, but I was charmed by Mr. Foggs in London. I loved the mezcal bar La Clandestina in Mexico City and the tiki bar The Shameful Tiki Room in Vancouver.

Per-Anders and Lotta Jorgensen, Editors of Fool Magazine:

Craft beers from tiny breweries is a blessing and Tørst in Brooklyn is among the ones showcasing this the best way. Natural wine bar 121BC in Sydney run by Giorgio di Maria now has a new branch in Hong Kong. At the bar at Contra in New York, wines are poured by sommelier Linda Violago. In Copenhagen, wine bar Den Vandrette opened with a stunning selection of the natural stuff.

Marie-Claude Lortie, Columnist at La Presse:

La Buvette de Camille, a new wine bar in Paris.

James Casey, Founder of Swallow Magazine:

Drinking excellent wine, and also well-prepared gin and tonics at Estela has proved to be something of a hobby of mine.

Charlotte Druckman, Senior Editor at Medium and Skirt Steak author:

I have yet to catch the cocktail bug. Give me a good and extra-dirty martini, and I'm happy. Thomas Carter (Estela) and Josh Nadel (Lafayette) continue to be my wine gurus — they never cease to surprise me with pours I haven't had before and instantly warm to. Same is always true of Bar Tartine, though it's not new. Go there and you'll always be given a wine that's new to you (Jolie Laide Trousseau Gris, and Pullus Pinot Grigio, I'm looking at YOU). Patrick Cappiello at Pearl & Ash seems to be doing a lovely job on this front, too.

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Paper Plane, Decatur, GA. [Photo: Sarah Dodge]

Matt Buchanan of The New Yorker:

Paper Plane and Kimball House in Atlanta; the Dead Rabbit and Torst in New York. (R.I.P. P.K.N.Y.) Of the established joints — PDT, Booker & Dax and Amor y Amargo, of course of course.

Sharlee Gibb, Melbourne-based writer and restaurant expert:

Harry and Frankie (Melbourne), it's part wine bar, part wine store. Wine guy Tom Hogan has put together an impressive collection of bottles with something for everyone. You can take away or sit and sip the night away ($15 corkage).

Robbie Swinnerton, Japan Times restaurant reviewer and Tokyo Food File blogger:

Gen Yamamoto's intimate 8-seater bar feels as tranquil and traditional as a tea ceremony chamber. His artfully constructed fruit and vegetable infusions are structured to the seasons in just the same way as a kaiseki meal. Order a flight of 5 or 7, then sit back for a meditative couple of hours.

Joshua David Stein, food writer and New York Observer restaurant critic:

Worship Street Whistling Shop, London.

Kyle Nabilcy, Isthmus food writer:

Some friends and I have made a road trip to Minneapolis into a summer tradition, and we drink, eat, and pay a little attention to a baseball game over the course of a weekend. From the Fulton Brewery Tap Room to the magnificent, diverse cocktails at Eat Street Social, from the superior bourbon and beer selection at Butcher and the Boar to the beer shopping spree we go on at The Four Firkins, Minneapolis is a drinking city par excellence.

Peter Meehan of Lucky Peach:

Didn't do a lot of drinking in 2013. Except for juice. And coffee. God, I drank a lot of coffee.

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Scopa, Venice, CA. [Photo: Elizabeth Daniels]

Kat Odell, Editor of Eater LA:

Scopa in Venice.

Helen Rosner, Executive Digital Editor of Saveur:

Pouring Ribbons and the Dead Rabbit, both in New York, both doing great things. I haven't been to barmini in DC, but Juan Coronado came by the SAVEUR office (perks!) and made some of the most memorable drinks I've had in recent memory.

Alexandra Forbes, Food Writer and Columnist of Folha de São Paulo:

Vin Papillon, a lovely and lively new wine bar in Montreal where co-owner and power sommelière Vanya Filipovic curates the list and runs the room like few in the business. (Joe Beef's Fred and Dave are also co-owners but Vanya runs the show, 100%).

Adam Goldberg, blogger behind A Life Worth Eating:

Sweetleaf and Dutch Kills teamed up to open a coffee shop by day, mixology bar by night in Hunter's Point, Long Island. This place has been under the radar for almost a year now. Where else can you get caffeinated cocktails made with Ritual Roasters drip coffee? [Ed. Note: Dutch Kills' owner Richard Boccato consulted on a limited, individual basis with Sweetleaf. The two are not affiliated.]

Mike Thelin, Feast Portland Co-Organizer:

I love the drinks at Aska in Brooklyn. Everyone talks about the food, but the cocktails are also really memorable.

Adrian Moore, Paris-based food writer and Mandarin Oriental concierge:

This year has seen so many great bars open in Paris and it's hard to pick a fave as they've all got their own unique character and amazing personalities behind them.

That being said, I'd have to say that the following rocked my world this year: Marie Celeste. This upper Marais bar was one of the places I found myself ending up for a last one on numerous occasions. Why? It's run by great people: Adam Tsou and Carina, his partner in both love and business, he of New York, she of Colombia. (They are the minds and souls behind the pocket-sized cocktail/cantina, Candelaria.) Also Carlos, their Venezuelan homme de confiance behind the bar, always full of cheer and humor, and ready to suggest and pour the next cocktail or hit of small production mezcal. And last but certainly not least, Haan Palcu-Chang, a half-Chinese, half-Romanian Canadian who did time at Copenhagen's Michelin starred Kiin Kiin and who has a way of inventing fun, smart, and fusion-y small dishes to soak up the alcohol and surprise your taste buds.

Their other new place, Glass, a former titty bar in gentrifying Pigalle is small, confidential, and wild with small production beers, cool artisanal cocktails, and funky DJ sets. Not forgetting, of course, the city's best hot dogs from cult comfort food purveyors, Emperor Norton.

The Gurgling Cod:

My spouse got me a SodaStream, so my porch has really raised its game in terms of the kinds of drinks that are happening there.

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The Berkshire Room, Chicago. [Photo: Timothy Hiatt]

Ari Bendersky, Director of Content/Editor-in-Chief of AbesMarket.com:

I don't go out to drink as much as I used to. Sure I have cocktails at dinner, but nights of random drinking are fewer. That said, one of my new favorite spots has to be The Berkshire Room at the Acme Hotel. Benjamin Schiller left the Boka Restaurant Group to open this joint on the site of a former Art Deco-era hotel in the heart of River North so if he was going, you wanted to follow. You walk in and you want to drink brown booze. Sure you can have any kind of drink you want and Schiller and his No. 2 Johnny Costello will make you anything — and you'll love it — but the vibe in this joint screams whiskey. I love bourbon and each of those guys have made me delicious drinks that make me slur a little — even after just one. It's okay because the room is super comfortable and a cab is only as far as walking out front.

Kerry Diamond, Editor of Cherry Bombe:

Chef Ashley Christensen's Joule Coffee in Raleigh gets my vote. It's not a bar per se, but you can get a cappuccino in the morning and a cocktail in the evening. Plus, all of Ashley's places have a great vibe. She's the mayor of that town.

Kat Kinsman, Managing Editor of CNN Eatocracy:

I don't even have to think about this one. The single best drink I had this year was made by Steva Casey at Veranda on Highland in Birmingham, and she calls it "Love Song to Bobby Burns." A picture and the recipe (courtesy of Ms. Casey) are here, but it's a soulful, smoky meld of Lagavulin and sherry and it goes down like a poem.

Adam Roberts, Amateur Gourmet blogger and cookbook author:

Bar Stella in L.A. has a groovy environment and really excellent drinks. Go when the sun's still out, sit outside, and order the Mojito made with 1909 heritage edition Bacardi (according to the menu) and you'll be really glad you live in a place that stays warm in December.

Janice Leung Hayes, blogger behind e_ting in Hong Kong:

Ronin in Hong Kong — brilliant Japanese-esque food, a fantastic range of liquors, infusions, cocktails, and sake.

Andrew Zimmern, Host of Bizarre Foods:

Sadly, I'm a homebody, but I understand that brown liquor is back!

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Dead Rabbit, New York City. [Photo: Daniel Krieger]

Kate Krader, Food & Wine Restaurant Editor:

Dead Rabbit. The most amazing cocktail bar. Communal punch!!

But if we're talking about drinking, I would call out the wine situation in NYC right now. At Charlie Bird, at Estela and at Pearl & Ash, in particular, they have terrific somewhat unconventional wine programs, plus great food.

Bonjwing Lee, photographer and blogger behind the Ulterior Epicure:

I don't frequent drinking establishments. But I often do saddle up to the bar at restaurants before or after my meal. I love sipping on bartender Sam Levy's "Whiskey for Breakfast" (brown butter bourbon, lemon, barrel-aged maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar) in the stunning, new lounge at The Restaurant at Meadowood. I also love the No. 6 that Chase White is making at the bar at Saison. Who knew (Whistle Pig Rye) whiskey went so well with sencha tea? The overlap of those two flavors is mind-bending.

Greg Morabito, Editor of Eater NY:

I was surprised and delighted by the cocktail program at Alder in New York. But the best new bar in New York City, hands down, is Achilles Heel.

Ali Kurshat Altinsoy, MAD Symposium Director:

I haven't really been drinking so much recently, but of the places that I have visited these were highlights: Tørst in NYC; Happiness Forgets in London (which I'm not sure is new for 2013 though new to me); and Warung Beach Club in Itajai, Brazil was pretty remarkable. Gamsei from Matt Bax in Munich opened this year and is top of my to-visit list.

Ryan Sutton, Bloomberg News Restaurant Critic:

Thomas Waugh's cocktails at Carbone and ZZ's Clam Bar. To explain why, let me tell you a story: I was not a happy camper the first time I hit Carbone. There was like a two-hour wait for a table and no eating at the bar, which is funny because I hate making reservations for a la carte restaurants. I probably go as a walk in to 90 percent of the places I review, because who thinks about a plate of pasta 30 days in advance (really). And so I rely on bar seating to make that walk-in eating happen. But that wasn't gonna fly here, and fair enough because it's their house, their rules.

So I'm with a nice girl from Astoria at Carbone's bar, and I'm like all right I'm screwed. But whatever, I order a Mai Tai from this Rasputin-bearded bartender (Thomas), I take a sip and what I say next can't be put in print because it's the type of triple-decker expletive that involuntarily comes out of your mouth when you try something so perfect you can't even wrap your head around it. I've had so many lousy Mai Tais — and THIS was impeccable — the pure clean flavors of rum, mint, lime, and almond. My night took a 180 right there. Went from unhappy Sutton to ecstatic Sutton. Yes, we still waited about an hour and forty five minutes for a table, and yes the food was phenomenal, but it was that perfect Mai Tai that transformed me into a happy human being. That's a tough thing to do, to change somewhat jaded diner's mood at the end of a long day.

So that's the long way of saying I think Waugh's cocktails are pretty special (and worth the high prices). And of course, I made reservations like a good little diner on all subsequent visits. Just one thing: If what Waugh does is so magical, would be nice if they could publish his cocktail list (with prices) online at ZZ's. It's the right thing to do.

· All Year in Eater 2013 Coverage [-E-]

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