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Eater's 38 Essential Cocktail Bars Across the US

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In honor of Eater's Cocktail Week, here's the first-ever Eater map of the 38 essential cocktail bars across the country. This is your answer, and ours, to any question that begins with, "Can you recommend a cocktail bar ... ?" This group covers the entire country and a myriad of different cocktail bar genres including neo-speakeasies, dressed-up dive bars, and former brothels.

You'll find bars like Distil in the new cocktail hotbed that is Milwaukee, to the drink theater on display at chef Grant Achatz's The Aviary in Chicago, to the 1970s-inspired drinks served at Seattle's Dirk Diggler-y Rob Roy, to Leo Robitschek's recreation of the grand hotel bar at New York's The NoMad. The only criteria: cocktail greatness.

There are plenty of great cocktail bars that didn't make the list, so instead of readying your pitchforks, why not make your case for (or against) in the comments section.

· All Cocktail Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Cocktail Week on Eater [-E-]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Smuggler’s Cove

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650 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 869-1900
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Hands down one of the best tiki bars in the country, complete with waterfall, wood planks and all sorts of pirate-y bric-a-brac. All kitsch aside, this small (it has a capacity of 50 people spread across three floors) Hayes Valley hideaway features a strong selection of rums and drinks that draw on early 1900s Caribbean traditions and classic American tiki drinks. [Photo: Jennifer Yin/Eater SF]

2. The Alembic

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1725 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 666-0822
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The Alembic is one of those bars where the drinks take time to make, but they're also hands-down the best in the hood, perhaps in the city. The kitchen's spiced duck hearts are a great foil for something boozy. –Carolyn Alburger, Eater SF [Photo: Flickr/acnatta]

3. Bar Agricole

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355 11th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 355-9400
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Rum seems to have found its stateside spiritual home in SF. Thad Vogler and Eric Johnson, the two guys behind Bar Agricole's tightly-curated cocktail list use only top spirits and ingredients. The bar is rum-centric, but the gin drinks also shine. [Photo: Jennifer Yin/Eater SF]

4. Library Bar

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7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(213) 488-1931
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The Roosevelt's literary-looking cocktail bar has become an LA institution. Though head bartender Matthew Biancaniello has departed the bar still looks to LA's bounty to craft cocktails based around (often esoteric) seasonal ingredients. [Photo: Elizabeth Daniels/Eater LA]

5. The Varnish Bar

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118 E 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 622-9999
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Cedd Moses, Sasha Petraske (of Milk & Honey fame) and Eric Alperin's downtown speakeasy is hidden inside Cole's restaurant and features a short menu that steers clear of the LA farm-to-drink trend in favor of drinks that focus on historical accuracy. [Photo: 213 Nightlife/The Varnish]

6. Copa D'Oro

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217 Broadway St
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 576-3030
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Head bartender Vincenzo Marianella is one of the pioneers of LA's farm-to-drink movement. Here he inserts fresh ingredients into an omakase (i.e. "you choose") model. There is a list of drinks, but customers are encouraged to work with the bartender to select a base spirit and choose from a selection of fresh ingredients to participate in crafting their own drink. [Photo: Copa d'Oro]

7. Noble Experiment

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777 G St.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 888-4713
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Nathan Stanton and Arsalun Tafazoli, the team behind Noble Experiment and Craft & Commerce, helped usher in new era for cocktails in San Diego. Noble Experiment is the first bar of the two and remains a tough place to snag a seat. The entrance is hidden behind a wall of false kegs in Tafazoli's restaurant Neighborhood. The narrow bar seats 35 at a time and requires reservations. [Photo: Flickr/nan palermo]

8. Teardrop Lounge

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1015 NW Everett St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 445-8109
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No national cocktail list would be complete without what is arguably Portland's best and most ambitious cocktail bar. It's a breeding ground for great bartenders and boasts a program that revolves around a variety house-made tinctures, tonic water, liqueurs, and bitters. [Photo: Facebook/Teardrop Lounge]

9. Clyde Common

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1014 SW Stark St.
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 228-3333
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Jeffrey Morgenthaler's bar program at Clyde Common, the restaurant connected to the Ace Hotel, has become a trendsetter when it comes to anything from new ingredients to bottled cocktails. Food is great to boot. [Photo: Eater PDX]

10. The Woodsman Tavern

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4537 SE Division St
Portland, Oregon 97206
(971) 373-8264
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Evan Zimmerman's cocktail program at The Woodsman Tavern has quickly become one of the most revered in the city. Zimmerman (formerly of Laurelhurst Market) is one of the city's best bartenders and his cocktail program proves just how creative simplicity can be. [Photo: Avila/Eater PDX]

11. Rob Roy

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2332 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 956-8423
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Rob Roy (named after the classic drink combining sweet vermouth, scotch, and bitters) serves up cocktails in space that could double as Dirk Diggler's living room. Expect leather, stacked stone, and 1970s-inspired drinks. [Photo: Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle]

12. Canon

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928 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 552-9755
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Capitol Hill's Canon is the handiwork of studious barman Jamie Boudreau. The focus is on dark spirits and bitters (it does, after all, call itself a whiskey and bitters emporium) all contained in a very brief cocktail menu. Deviations, however, are encouraged. [Photo: A. Fawcett/Eater Seattle]

13. PDT

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113 St Marks Pl.
New York, NY 10009
(212) 614-0386
Jim Meehan's PDT is as famous for its cocktails as it is for its Bill & Ted's-style entrance through a phone booth in hot dog joint. The bar, one of the first of the neo speakeasy-style, remains one of America's most influential. [Photo: Eater NY]

14. Death & Co

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433 E 6th St.
New York, NY 10009
(212) 388-0882
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Death & Co. is one of the pioneers of the craft cocktail movement and remains one of New York's most innovative bars. The speakeasy-esque spooky saloon is all about creative twists on classic cocktails, all served by some of New York's best bartenders. [Photo: Kalina/Eater NY]

15. Milk & Honey

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134 Eldridge St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 625-3897
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Sasha Petraske's Milk & Honey remains one of the world's best bars. The Lower East Side space, which opened in 2000, helped ignite the cocktail movement. It's slated to close in the next few months and reopen in a larger space uptown that does not require reservations. In it's original form it remains an essential New York bar. [Photo: Eater NY]

16. Booker and Dax at Ssäm

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207 2nd Ave
New York, New York 10003
(212) 254-3500
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Booker & Dax is the brainchild of Dave Arnold, the director of culinary technology at the French Culinary Institute, who applies his knowledge of science to perfect classic drinks. There are toys, like rotary evaporators and liquid nitrogen, but this isn't about theatrics. The atmosphere is low-key and the drinks are deceptively simple. [Photo: Edsel L/Flickr]

17. The NoMad

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1170 Broadway
New York, NY 10001
(212) 796-1500
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Leo Robitschek created one of the best four-star cocktail programs in the country at Eleven Madison Park. He's now taken his winning formula to the group's new venture, a sort of reincarnation of the grand hotel bar. The cocktails are even more ambitious and served at high volume from a list of more than 30 drinks. It's quickly established itself as one of New York's best, and most ambitious, bars. [Photo: Krieger/Eater NY]

18. The Hawthorne

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500A Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 532-9150
The Hawthorne is the latest from Jackson Cannon, who is also behind the drinks at Eastern Standard Kitchen and Island Creek Oyster Bar. It opened just last year, but the multi-room lounge—which looks a lot like the penthouse apartment you don't have, art included—is already a must-stop. [Photo: The Hawthorne ]

19. Drink

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348 Congress St.
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 695-1806
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Chef Barbara Lynch's South Boston cocktail bar takes the omakase route and goes menu-less, save for a few recommended drinks that find their way to the chalkboard and rotate frequently. The bar, which is headed up by longtime No.9 bartender John Gersten, remains a haven for some of the city's best bartenders. [Photo: CarbZombie/Eater National Flickr Pool]

20. Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

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112 S 18th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(267) 467-3277
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Named for a famous bootlegging front, Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., is one of the first Philly bars that embraced the speakeasy theme, with its unmarked entrance, dim lighting, and drinks that are long on classics. It remains the city's beacon for craft cocktails. [Photo: Facebook/Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.]
728 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 299-8385
Located just outside of DC in Alexandria, Virginia, the entrance to PX is lit only by a blue light. A ring of the doorbell gets you into three, dimply lit rooms. The bar is run by Todd Thrasher, who spent time with José Andrés and brings a modernist twist to the cocktails here. Fun fact: Evan Zimmerman, of The Woodsman Tavern, is also an alum. [Photo: Kevin L./Yelp]

22. The Passenger

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1021 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 393-0220
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Brothers Derek and Tom Brown, who own both The Passenger and The Columbia Room, have quickly become the darlings of the cocktail/wine/beer scene in DC. While cocktails are the main event here, the beer list is worth a visit as well. [Photo: Facebook/The Passenger]

23. The Violet Hour

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1520 N Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 252-1500
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Toby Maloney (of Pegu Club and Milk & Honey fame) runs this classy Wicker Park cocktail bar with a very particular attention to detail. While Chicagoans invariably joke about the amount of time it takes to make a drink here, speed is contrary to the point. The bar is built for those bent on staying awhile. No standing room. [Photo: Facebook/The Violet Hour]

24. The Aviary

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955 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-0868
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Alinea chef Grant Achatz's The Aviary is ground zero for the small, but increasingly influential molecular mixology movement. This is a bar built on relentless experimentation and innovation and the result is the closest thing America has to drink theater. (Note: It's worth trying your luck at getting into Aviary's cocktail bar with a cocktail bar, The Office.) [Photo: Eater National]

25. The Barrelhouse Flat

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2624 N Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 857-0421
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Violet Hour alum Stephen Cole opened Barrelhouse Flat about a year ago in Lincoln Park; it has since become one of Chicago's top cocktail destinations. The bar is split into two themes: the more dive-y, casual downstairs bar (which includes a pool table, jukebox and punch served from custom-built carts) and the more upscale, classic top level. [Photo: Tim Hiatt/Eater Chicago]

26. Bryant's Cocktail Lounge

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1579 S 9th St
Milwaukee, WI 53204
(414) 383-2620
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This trapped-in-time cocktail lounge dates back to 1938. It's Milwaukee's oldest and perhaps the best place to grab an Old Fashioned—which, here in Wisconsin, is brandy-based, a tradition that dates back to the late 19th century. [Photo: Bryant's]

27. Distil

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722 N Milwaukee St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 220-9411
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Whiskey is the core of the cocktail program at this newish Milwaukee bar, but what makes it unique is the program's quest to use ingredients—like Schlitz-Elderflower foam or Wisconsin Nueske bacon-infused bourbon—that make for drinks that have a sense of place. [Photo: Distil]

28. Bradstreet Craftshouse

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601 1st Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 312-1821
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This is another Midwest bar that can claim Toby Maloney (of Alchemy Consulting and formerly of Pegu Club) as a consultant. The arrival of Bradstreet in the Graves Hotel has instantly raised the bar for the Minneapolis cocktail scene. The menu focuses on twists on the classics and organizes drinks by approachability. [Photo: Bradstreet Craftshouse]

29. Manifesto

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1924 Main St.
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 536-1325
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Manifesto is the handiwork of one of Kansas City's best bartenders, Ryan Maybee—who also runs the bar program at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange (same address and owners). The entrance to the 48-seat basement bar is unmarked and, in classic speakeasy fashion, the drinks are mostly retooled classics. [Photo: Facebook/Manifesto]

30. Patterson House

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1711 Division St
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 244-7989
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Max and Benjamin Goldberg, along with partner Toby Maloney (yes, again), run this small, classy cocktail joint that was inspired by Chicago's The Violet Hour. The name of the bar is an homage to former Tennessee Governor Malcolm R. Patterson, who vetoed the return of state-wide prohibition in 1909. [Photo: eGullet]

31. Taste by Niche

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4584 Laclede St
St Louis, MO 63108
(314) 361-1200
The large and diverse, but surprisingly navigable cocktail list at Niche is the handiwork of bar manager Ted Kigore. The drinks are paired with small plates courtesy of St. Louis star chef Gerard Craft, and while the list is long on the classics, the proprietary drinks—which are categorized by flavor profile—are the real draw. [Photo: Eater National/Niche]

32. Arnaud's French 75 Bar

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(504) 523-5433
Chris Hannah is one of the premier bartenders in the city, and Arnaud's French 75 has been named one of the best bars in the country by a handful of publications. Hannah is driven by a passion for the cocktails of the past, both the classics and the forgotten ones. – Gwendolyn Knapp [Photo: Arnaud's]

33. Cure

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4905 Freret Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
(504) 302-2357
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Cure is considered by many to be the best bar in NOLA. Bartenders Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal helped kick start a new era for craft cocktails in the city when they opened Cure; its beacon status endures. Their other two bars, Bellocq, which focuses on punches and cobblers and the newly-acquired Perestroika at Pravda are also among NOLA's best. [Photo: Cure]

34. Holeman & Finch Public House

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2277 Peachtree Rd. NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 948-1175
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Greg Best and friends lit a fire under Atlanta's cocktail movement when Holeman & Finch opened a few years ago, and there is still no dethroning them as kings of the cocktail hill with their unwavering attention to detail and love for interesting spirits. – Jackie Goldstein, Eater Atlanta [Photo: Eater Atlanta]

35. The Cedars Social

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1326 S. Lamar St.
Dallas, TX 75215
(214) 928-7700
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At the forefront of Dallas' cocktail revival is the Cedars Social and cocktail mastermind Michael Martensen, who's teaching a new generation of Dallas bartenders how to make some very old drinks. – Andrea Grimes, Eater Dallas [Photo: Cedars Social]

36. Midnight Cowboy

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313 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 843-2715
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In its former life, Midnight Cowboy was named Midnight Cowboy Oriental Massage, and a massage wasn't the only thing on the menu. The former brothel has been transformed into a reservations-only speakeasy with classic and original drinks courtesy of bar manager Brian Dressel. [Photo: Raymond Thompson/Eater Austin]

37. Anvil Bar & Refuge

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1424 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 523-1622
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Anvil opened three years ago and has since made a name for itself as one of the country's best bars and a feeder for top Texas bar talent. It remains a low-key bar that pumps out expert cocktails sans pretense. [Photo: Gary Wise/Eater Austin]

38. Williams & Graham

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3160 Tejon St.
Denver, CO 80211
Sean Kenyon's Williams & Graham gives the phone booth entrance to PDT a run for its money with a spy movie specialty: a bookcase that doubles as a revolving door. The scene features standard neo-speakeasy trappings like leather booths, low lighting and a jazz soundtrack. [Photo: Adam Larkey/Eater Denver]

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1. Smuggler’s Cove

650 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Hands down one of the best tiki bars in the country, complete with waterfall, wood planks and all sorts of pirate-y bric-a-brac. All kitsch aside, this small (it has a capacity of 50 people spread across three floors) Hayes Valley hideaway features a strong selection of rums and drinks that draw on early 1900s Caribbean traditions and classic American tiki drinks. [Photo: Jennifer Yin/Eater SF]
650 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102

2. The Alembic

1725 Haight St., San Francisco, CA 94117
The Alembic is one of those bars where the drinks take time to make, but they're also hands-down the best in the hood, perhaps in the city. The kitchen's spiced duck hearts are a great foil for something boozy. –Carolyn Alburger, Eater SF [Photo: Flickr/acnatta]
1725 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117

3. Bar Agricole

355 11th St., San Francisco, CA 94103
Rum seems to have found its stateside spiritual home in SF. Thad Vogler and Eric Johnson, the two guys behind Bar Agricole's tightly-curated cocktail list use only top spirits and ingredients. The bar is rum-centric, but the gin drinks also shine. [Photo: Jennifer Yin/Eater SF]
355 11th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

4. Library Bar

7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
The Roosevelt's literary-looking cocktail bar has become an LA institution. Though head bartender Matthew Biancaniello has departed the bar still looks to LA's bounty to craft cocktails based around (often esoteric) seasonal ingredients. [Photo: Elizabeth Daniels/Eater LA]
7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

5. The Varnish Bar

118 E 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
Cedd Moses, Sasha Petraske (of Milk & Honey fame) and Eric Alperin's downtown speakeasy is hidden inside Cole's restaurant and features a short menu that steers clear of the LA farm-to-drink trend in favor of drinks that focus on historical accuracy. [Photo: 213 Nightlife/The Varnish]
118 E 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

6. Copa D'Oro

217 Broadway St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Head bartender Vincenzo Marianella is one of the pioneers of LA's farm-to-drink movement. Here he inserts fresh ingredients into an omakase (i.e. "you choose") model. There is a list of drinks, but customers are encouraged to work with the bartender to select a base spirit and choose from a selection of fresh ingredients to participate in crafting their own drink. [Photo: Copa d'Oro]
217 Broadway St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

7. Noble Experiment

777 G St., San Diego, CA 92101
Nathan Stanton and Arsalun Tafazoli, the team behind Noble Experiment and Craft & Commerce, helped usher in new era for cocktails in San Diego. Noble Experiment is the first bar of the two and remains a tough place to snag a seat. The entrance is hidden behind a wall of false kegs in Tafazoli's restaurant Neighborhood. The narrow bar seats 35 at a time and requires reservations. [Photo: Flickr/nan palermo]
777 G St.
San Diego, CA 92101

8. Teardrop Lounge

1015 NW Everett St, Portland, OR 97209
No national cocktail list would be complete without what is arguably Portland's best and most ambitious cocktail bar. It's a breeding ground for great bartenders and boasts a program that revolves around a variety house-made tinctures, tonic water, liqueurs, and bitters. [Photo: Facebook/Teardrop Lounge]
1015 NW Everett St
Portland, OR 97209

9. Clyde Common

1014 SW Stark St., Portland, OR 97205