Broussard’s, New Orleans. Photo credit: Ed James
Esquire just published its annual list of the best bars for 2014, and if you’re expecting a litany of high-end cocktail joints brimming with equally high price points and mustachioed mixologists, you’re in for a surprise.
Drinks historian and Esquire boozer-in-chief David Wondrich has compiled a seriously eclectic set of watering holes, from the fancy Saxon + Parole in New York City to the absolutely divey J.J. Foley’s in Boston, a late night Jameson-rocks sorta place that is not necessarily going to take kindly to interlopers. (Pro tip for out-of-towners, below.)
The whole package from the the June/July issue of the magazine is worth a read, but here are seven of the most interesting contenders from the full list of 25. (Note that if you’re planning a trip to Detroit any time soon, get that flight booked, because Wondrich just named it the “bar city of the year.”)
Broussard’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans has all sorts of fine places for a world-class cocktail, from Cure to Sobou, but the bearded barkeep pictured above is one Paul Gustings, who Wondrich calls straight-up “legendary.”
Palmer’s, Minneapolis, Minnesota
"There are dives and dives in this world,” and this one falls into the latter category, thanks in part to a Wall of Shame cataloguing those regulars who’ve been 86’ed over the years. If only life came with such a guide.
JJ Foley’s Café, Boston, MA
Don’t call this place by its full name. It is Foley’s. You’re drinking Jameson. Wondrich rightly calls the joint “a survivor from the bad old days” of pre-gentrified downtown Boston. Best to purchase and wear a Red Sox hat before darkening its doorway, because some things never change.
The Long Island Bar, Brooklyn, New York
Sit at the curving, cigarette-scarred bar of this old-school Brooklyn watering hole, whose half-century history is adorably chronicled here. Every bartender is worth his weight in artisanal bitters, whether it’s owner Toby Cecchini, tequila expert Phil Ward (who Wondrich declares “one of the finest bartenders in America”), or David Moo of Brooklyn’s Quarter Bar.
Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium, Seattle, WA
Speaking of bitters, you’ve gotta trust the Pacific Northwest’s “reigning craft-cocktail” spot that puts ‘em in its name and uses Angostura “to stain the woodwork.”
Corazón y Miel, Bell, California
Props to a lounge that fits the hangover killers right into its menu, from some delicious sounding chilaquiles to buñuelos with fried bananas, alongside the hangover producers.