Drew Swantak/Thrillist
Drew Swantak/Thrillist
New York, NY

Amor y Amargo

Catherine Owens
Somerville, MA

Backbar

Courtesy of Bar Marco
Courtesy of Bevy Bar/Paula Kim
Honolulu, HI

Bevy

Courtesy of Billy Sunday
Chicago, IL

Billy Sunday

Courtesy of Dan Bishop
Andy Kryza/Thrillist
Portland, OR

Clyde Common

Eleanor Lonardo
Seattle, WA

Damn The Weather

Courtesy of Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Washington, DC

Dram & Grain

Arnaud's Restaurant
Courtesy of George's Keep/Linda Romero
San Antonio, TX

George's Keep

Courtesy of Michael David Rose
San Francisco, CA

The Interval

Courtesy of Julie Soefer Photography
Houston, TX

Julep

Courtesy of Marvel Bar
Minneapolis, MN

Marvel Bar

Josh Meredith
Louisville, KY

Meta

Courtesy of Ron Manville
Nashville, TN

The Patterson House

Courtesy of John Kwiatkowski 
Detroit, MI

Sugar House

Allison Webber
San Francisco, CA

Trick Dog

Carlos Lopez
Los Angeles, CA

The Varnish

Drew Swantak/Thrillist
New York, NY

The Wayland

Jess Mayhugh/Thrillist
Baltimore, MD

W.C. Harlan

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1. Amor y Amargo 443 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

You won't find any mixers, sugars, or juices in this tiny, tile-covered sleeve -- just a bitters/amaro-heavy focus on truly classic, uncorrupted cocktails. Head-man-behind-the-rail Sother Teague also peddles everything you need to stock your home bar and make the same exact drinks he does (but probably not as well!).

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2. Clyde Common 1014 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205 (Downtown)

Clyde Common's rocking Prohibition era-themed cocktails are crafted by top-notch mixologists, plus this spot also offers European-inspired eats in its casual space Downtown. The trendsetting tavern has communal tables and small plates. Snack on truffle popcorn while you wait for your Heavy Petting cocktail, made with vodka, quinine syrup, lemon peel and grapefruit.

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3. Bryant's Cocktail Lounge 1579 S 9th St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

You can feel the history when you drink at Bryant's -- it's been around since the '30s, but you'll be more interested in the intoxicating darkness and your flawless (and also intoxicating) brandy Old Fashioned.

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4. Billy Sunday 3143 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

This 50-seat tavern has an appropriately turn-of-the-century feel courtesy of its china-filled hutch, lantern-esque lighting, and old-timey photos of people not smiling. While small plates are served, the libations here rule.

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5. Bevy 661 Auahi St, Honolulu, HI 96813 (Kakaako)

Taking inspiration from its home in the Kakaako neighborhood, Bevy is an upscale cocktail bar with a trendy, industrial feel and a commitment to sustainability. Ingredients for their drinks and menu of small plates are all sourced from local farms, and the decor is exclusively made of reclaimed materials and eco-friendly furnishings. The cocktail list is extensive and playful, with homemade syrups and infusions sharing space with innovations like candied ginger foam and barrel-aged bitters. There's also a new cocktail created daily, so make sure to ask your bartender what's cooking!

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6. Backbar 9 Sanborn Ct, Somerville, MA 02143 (Union Square)

The seasoned 'tailsmiths at Backbar concoct a myriad of alco-creations while the kitchen serves up sumptuous comfort food, in a space that feels like your garage if it was trendy and full of strangers.

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7. George’s Keep 17101 LA Cantera Pkwy Ste 1200, San Antonio, TX 78256 (La Crescenta)

Another bar specializing in house infusions and craft cocktails, George’s Keep presents a somewhat schizophrenic take on the speakeasy movement. In the front, you’ll find a classically adorned bar with limited selection of draft and craft beers as well as a custom drink menu. As you move to the rear bar, however, you’re transported to an entirely different scene, where bitters meets lemon zest as the bartender mix liquid works of art from a bar that’s center stage.

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8. Arnaud's French 75 Bar 813 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70112 (French Quarter)

Originally designated as a "gentlemen only area" in NOLA's early days, this cocktail bar located within Arnaud's Restaurant features drinks like the Pisco Derby (that's pisco, lavender honey syrup, lime, and grapefruit) and bar snacks like Oysters en Brochette (translation: oysters wrapped with bacon and deep fried). You'll feel extra fancy having those cocktails and snacks served to you by bartenders clad in white tuxedos. In addition to more inventive drinks, you can't go wrong with the killer Old Fashioned or Sidecar either.

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9. Dram & Grain 2007 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

Dram & Grain is a badass underground whiskey den run by Trevor Frye and Nick Lowe of Jack Rose Dining Saloon (which just so happens to be on top of said whiskey den). If you can get the secret phone number via secret business card, you can text these guys on their burner phone (!) and get yourself into one of three seatings on Saturdays only. Expect creative cocktails (red-hot pokers, smoke-filled concoctions), whiskey on tap, and only one vodka drink called the Training Wheels.

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10. Damn the Weather 116 1st Avenue S, Seattle, WA (Pioneer Square)

This cozy little bar with open brick walls and few rustic details keeps well with the atmosphere of its historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. With only a few local ciders and beers, Damn the Weather deals in a rotating selection of veggie-heavy shared plates and in cocktails, which on its menu range from "tall and fizzy," like the Chilcano to "short and fresh," like the scotchy Godfather Part II to "boozy and evocative," like the Tuxedo No. 3 with a daring dash of absinth.

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11. W.C. Harlan 400 W 23rd St, Baltimore, MD 21211

Under low-lit chandeliers, bartenders in retro-flowery dresses pour well-made drinks like the stellar Old Fashioned with James E. Pepper 1776 Rye and a cinnamon cherry.

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12. The Wayland 700 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

From a duo that spent many years bartending, cooking, and consulting in the restaurant business, The Wayland is a live-music cocktail bar in the heart of Alphabet City that aces the neighborhood watering hole game. Connected to the bar is a kitchen that specializes in small plates like raw (or fried) oysters, pork belly BLTs, and fried mashed potatoes. The cocktails reflect a DIY approach, with hours of prep work just to produce house-made radish, spiced apple, and key lime-flavored bitters.

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13. The Varnish 118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (Downtown)

In the back of Cole's -- specifically behind an oak door that's marked with a framed picture of a cocktail -- is The Varnish, a tiny bar from the vaunted mixologists behind New York's Milk & Honey and Little Branch. The bar is an intimate, Prohibition-era hideaway with cozy wooden booths, soft jazz playing in the background, and expertly-made top-shelf cocktails. Order the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, or go off-menu and let the bartender make you something unexpected.

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14. Trick Dog 3010 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Brought to you by The Bon Vivants, Trick Dog in The Mission's a marble- and steel-adorned cocktailery serving drinks from a Pantone-inspired menu with names from favorite song titles, along with bar bites like beer nuts, pickles, and cracklins.

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15. Sugar House 2130 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48026 (Corktown)

One of Detroit's leading mixology bars, this hip Corktown spot uses eclectic spirits and mixers to make inventive and delicious drinks. Bartenders clad in tiki shirts or vests shake and stir creative concoctions with off-the-beaten-path liquors -- cacaçha, mezcal, absinthe, madiera, and chartreuse, to name a few -- and homemade infusions and syrups. While the specialty menu rotates seasonally, the staff's encyclopedic knowledge of classics from Aperol Spritzes to Zombies ensures a constant flock of regulars, aided by the antique hunting lodge décor (taxidermy animals mounted throughout, vintage bar stools, original brick facade from 1888) and dim, sultry ambience.

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16. The Patterson House 1711 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203

Thanks to its sophisticated decor (cozy, 30-seat bar, vintage chandeliers), and even more sophisticated drinks (get the hickory-smoked cola and whiskey Jennings first and then move on), The Patterson House remains one of the leaders in a town where new, interesting things seem to be happening every minute.

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17. Meta 425 W Chestnut St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Meta is a wonderful world of contrasts -- a marble-barred, copper-penny-floored temple of swank drinking lodged next to a strip club. But it’s not just bravado and balls that make Meta the best damn cocktail bar in a city that was doing craft cocktails long before they were trendy. The signatures are all grounded in tradition, but with a nice kick in the knickers. Take, for example, The High Pant, which augments some Old Fitzgerald with fernet and ginger to transform the Old Fashioned into something completely new. And hey, with cocktails this good, that strip club next door just keeps getting less lurid by the sip.

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18. The Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar 50 2nd Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (North Loop)

Upstairs, at the Bachelor Farmer, you'll find a friendly brick-and-wood restaurant offering a variety of organic dishes made with ingredients from its rooftop garden and other local growers, while downstairs is a dimly lit speakeasy with expertly crafted cocktails. There, at Marvel Bar, you'll want to order the signature cocktail, Oliveto, which features olive oil, egg white, lemon, Licor 43, and Gordon’s gin.

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19. Julep 1919 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007 (Washington)

Julep's got an old-school, punky Southern charm that's soaked in bourbon, just like you'll be after a few masterfully crafted cocktails and cold seafood dishes from former Pass & Provisions Chef Adam Garcia. Housed in an industrial 1880s uniform factory, the space features a gorgeous copper bar and a sophisticated back porch. There are masterful odes to the bar’s namesake drink, but the list runs on into a boozy Southern history book with classics born in the region and a seasonal lineup that plays with Southern inspirations.

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20. The Interval 2 Marina Blvd, Fort Mason Building A, San Francisco, CA 94123 (Cow Hollow)

Deep in Fort Mason, The Interval is part museum, part coffee shop, and part bar. Bartender Jennifer Colliau is a straight-up cocktail geek and all of her drinks, some with quirkier names than others (Decanted Mother-in-Law, Mexican Firing Squad Special) have a story. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves make you feel like you're in someone's personal library. It's the kind of place you go to think while you drink.

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21. Bar Marco 2216 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Bar Marco, an elegant European-inflected Strip District destination, doesn't just make waves with it's food (which is nothing to scoff at). The restaurant has disposed of the traditional tipping policy, instead offering employees substantial salaries and stake in the business instead. That means servers are all the more enthusiastic to serve your pigs' head croquettes with dollops of grain mustard aioli, discuss the buckwheat fettuccine with a nutmeg-spiced pork ragu blanket that you just ordered, or take extra care that the kitchen cooks your filet mignon to the right temperature. A subterranean Wine Room offers ticketed meals which require reservations, but you can stop by the main dining room anytime for a meal and a glass of wine from small producers.

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