You pretty much know how much you like a bar within 60 seconds of walking in.  Many factors come into play and can be assessed instantly: the atmosphere, the people, the booze, the bartender, the music, and the lighting.  There are so many awesome bars in this world, so much of it is dependent on where you live/visit and who you hang with.

The first bar I ever had a drink in was the Monkey Bar in NYC in 1985.  The drinking age was 18 and I was 18.25.  The first drink I ordered was a Whiskey Sour.  The Monkey Bar today is a lot different than it was then, but it is still an iconic bar.  I love the fact that was my first.

Here are my favorite bars anywhere in the world, broken down by category:


Whiskey Bars

  1. The Hard Water, San Francisco, CA
  2. The Brandy Library, New York, NY
  3. The Flatiron Room, New York, NY
  4. Bourbon & Branch, San Francisco, CA
  5. Longman & Eagle, Chicago, IL


Dive Bars

  1. The Silver Peso, Larkspur, CA
  2. Gino & Carlo, San Francisco, CA
  3. The Sly Fox, New York, NY
  4. Buffalo Rose Saloon, Golden, CO
  5. Ye Olde Pickle Factory, Nisswa, MN

Hon Mention: Li Po Lounge, SF, CA


Iconic Bars

  1. The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York, NY
  2. The American Bar, Stafford Hotel, London
  3. King Cole Bar, New York, NY
  4. Old Seelbach Bar, Louisville, KY
  5. The Sitzmark Club, Alta, UT

Hon Mention: Sam’s Anchor Cafe, Tiburon, CA


Mixology Bars

  1. Booker & Dax, New York, NY
  2. The Aviary, Chicago, IL
  3. Apotheke, New York, NY
  4. PDT, New York, NY
  5. Death & Co, New York , NY


Bars at Restaurants That Make You Want to Wait for a Table

  1. Holeman & Finch, Atlanta
  2. The NoMad, New York, NY
  3. The Buckeye Roadhouse, Mill Valley, CA
  4. The Breslin, New York, NY
  5. Del Posto, New York, NY