Beverage Director

The Best Places to Drink in Pittsburgh Right Now

Hidden Harbor
Hidden Harbor | Tom O'Connor
Hidden Harbor | Tom O'Connor

Whether you’re in the mood for a rowdy night out in an old-school dive, or you’d rather have an elegant evening at a top-shelf cocktail lounge, Pittsburgh’s ever-growing bar scene offers something for everyone. With so many great watering holes around (serving so many great local brews and spirits), it can be difficult to pick just one to try during a night out on the town. That’s why we’ve rounded up all of our favorites, from neighborhood institutions to brand-new hot spots, in this edition of Beverage Director: your source for the best places to drink in Pittsburgh right now. Cheers!

Lorelei
Tom O'Connor Photography

Lorelei

East Liberty

A cozy beer hall and cocktail lounge with bistro eats 
This Alpine-inspired spot has been a welcome addition to Pittsburgh’s bar scene since it opened in 2017. Led by the team that also runs tiki favorite Hidden Harbor and beer mecca The Independent Brewing Company, this crew knows good drinks, and their lager-forward beer menu and creative cocktail list shows it. Look for lots of European influences on the cocktail menu, from Cloosterbitter to kräuterlikörs, along with house-infused spirits that add depth to their list.

the warren
Aviana Adams

The Warren

Downtown

Low-key neighborhood bar with a killer cocktail list 
The Warren has easily become one of Downtown’s go-to spots for after-theater drinks. Pittsburgh cocktail guru Spencer Warren leads the beverage program here, with inventive cocktails that change by the season (and sometimes more often), most for only $10, along with a robust beer program, and an in-house wine shop, too. The bar also offers seafood-forward dishes and sushi from the adjoining Penn Cove Eatery, along with their takes on traditional bar snacks like pimento cheeseburgers and Katsu fried chicken sandwiches.

Apteka

Bloomfield

A minimalist bar with Eastern European influences
Apteka is one of Pittsburgh’s great vegan restaurants -- it’s one of Pittsburgh’s great restaurants overall, in fact, and the bar program is equally essential. The bar’s small but mighty cocktail menu features libations made with a collection of housemade syrups and shrubs, and the deceptively simple drink descriptions (such as “Tequila, spruce, vermouth”) mask some truly complex flavor profiles. You’ll also find a list of Eastern European-heavy brews, plus house cordials and inventive non-alcoholic sodas.

Bar Botanico
Kevin Gubish

Bar Botanico

Lawrenceville

Buzzy new hot spot with choose-your-own adventure cocktails 
The newest spot in this lineup, Bar Botanico offers an abbreviated menu of signature cocktails that belies its totally personalized approach to drinking. Guests are encouraged to sidle up to the bar and chat with the bartender about favorite flavor profiles and tastes, and then allow the bartender to craft a one-of-a-kind drink that feels totally fresh and unique (because, in effect, it will be).

Bridges & Bourbon
Nick Jones

Bridges & Bourbon

Downtown

Elevated bar with modernist cocktails and inventive small plates
The cocktail is king at this stylish bar dedicated to celebrating the true art of beverage-making. With a modernist cocktail list that makes use of every trick in a bartender’s playbook -- from unique serving vessels to flavored smoke -- Bridges & Bourbon is serving some of the most inventive (and Instagramable) drinks in the city.

Hidden Harbor Pittsburgh
Tom O'Connor

Hidden Harbor

Squirrel Hill North

A tropical tiki bar with island-inspired cocktails
Like any respectable tiki establishment, Hidden Harbor is all about letting your troubles float away -- and if you had any doubt you were in a tiki bar, the mermaid statue at the head of the bar and fresh flowers adorning your glass clinch it. The bar has an excellent rum program (ask about the Rum Passport, which offers a handy checklist for Hidden Harbor's latest and greatest additions), and the cocktails are some of the very best in the city. You’ll never find pre-mixed piña coladas here; instead, be prepared to be wowed at the flavor-forward cocktail menu, with drinks like the Black Lime Grog (bourbon, black lime-infused overproof Jamaican rum, yellow chartreuse, lime, pineapple, coconut and passion fruit) packing a solid punch.

Gooski's

Polish Hill

No-nonsense dive with friendly staff and cheap drinks 
This Polish Hill mainstay has gotten a lot of attention in recent years (being named one of Esquire’s best bars in America will do that), but that doesn’t seem to matter much to either of the bartenders or the clientele. Between the smoke, the noise (thanks to a jukebox and regular live music in the back room), and the Polish food, not much has changed at Gooski’s in a long time. And that’s just the way that we like it: Gooski's remains one of our favorite dive bars in the city.

The Allegheny Wine Mixer

Lawrenceville

Cozy, low-key wine bar with informed staff and a rotating wine list 
The staff at this quirky Lawrenceville wine bar all know their stuff when it comes to vino and can walk you through the wine list with ease, helping you find your next new favorite (come prepared to chat about your favorite flavor profiles and what tastes you’re most into). The wine list changes regularly, and there's also an extensive by-the-glass list, so you can try a few without committing to a bottle. You’ll also find a full wine cup, punch, and cocktail menu, and some local draft beer and bottles thrown in for good measure. 

<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Butterjoint/photos/a.259416420861457.1073741832.159769470826153/259416440861455/?type=3&amp;theater" target="_blank">Butterjoint</a>

Butterjoint

Oakland

Cocktail bar serving house-made bar snacks
An ever-changing cocktail menu (thanks to bar manager Amanda Schaffner’s seasonal selections) and truly outstanding bar snacks (pierogies stuffed with grass-fed cottage cheese, anyone?) make this cozy Oakland cocktail bar one of the best places in the city to unwind. Connected to sister restaurant Legume, Butterjoint shares the upscale eatery’s commitment to quality, placing an emphasis on local spirits and Pittsburgh brews.

Maggie's Farm Rum Room

Strip District

Cozy cocktail outpost for Maggie’s Farm Rum distillery
This tiny bar in the Maggie’s Farm Rum distillery is the place to go if you want to warm up on a cold Pittsburgh night. You’ll find eggnog (when it’s in season), hot rum punch, and any manner of rum-soaked cocktails on the menu. And when the weather gets warmer? It’s time for mojitos and Palomas. The mixologists know what they’re doing, and the rum (which has been winning awards all over the place), is the perfect base for their cocktail creations. Not in the mood for a spirit? Not to worry, as Maggie's also offers beer, wine, and cider. 

Butcher & The Rye

Downtown

Award-winning restaurant and bar known for its extensive whiskey collection 
When you’re in the mood for a whiskey, Butcher & the Rye is the place to go. Richard DeShantz’s downtown restaurant may be known for its hearty menu and house-made charcuterie, but the elegant, full-service bar (the first Pittsburgh bar to be nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Bar Program) is the star of the show. You’ll find two bars in the restaurant: the first floor main bar which includes a Whiskey Wall with more than 600 varietals of the good stuff and a more intimate Rye Bar on the second floor with a top-notch craft cocktail list. 
 

<a href="https://www.facebook.com/barmarcopgh/photos/a.1204079956338563.1073741876.167136583366244/1204079979671894/?type=3&amp;theater" target="_blank">Bar Marco</a>

Bar Marco

Strip District

Modern cocktail and natural wine bar in a historic firehouse
The cocktail list may be small at Bar Marco, but it’s on point -- you’re going to have a tough time finding one that you don’t like. The Strip District restaurant and bar also has a host of bartenders on staff who can create the perfect off-the-menu “bartender’s choice” drink for you based on the spirit you happen to be most into at the moment, and the wine list (with an emphasis on natural wines), carefully selected by sommelier Dominic Fiore, is always surprising. Fun fact: Bar Marco is also one of the few restaurants in Pittsburgh to go completely tip-free.

Brillobox

Bloomfield

Well-designed lounge with a bar and event and community space
Brillobox’s motto is "Keeping it weird since 2005," which sums up the vibe of the place pretty accurately. Part lounge, part bar, part restaurant, and part community space, this cozy Bloomfield spot has been a mainstay on Pittsburgh’s drinking scene for more than a decade. The draft menu is outstanding (with rosé and Prosecco on tap, too), and the cocktail menu changes all the time. The bar’s vegetarian-friendly menu leans toward classic bar fare (grilled cheese and tomato soup and a spectacular burger are standouts), and it does weekend brunch (and Bloody Mary’s) well, too. 
 

Acacia

South Side Flats

Prohibition-themed cocktail bar with speakeasy vibes
You have to know what you’re looking for in order to find this nondescript spot on the South Side, but once you do, you’re in for a treat. The bartenders here have serious mixology skills and aren’t afraid to show them off in the form of both classic cocktails (try the Old Fashioned), and new creations. This modern-day speakeasy also features an extensive whiskey list and a staff who knows exactly which direction to point you in when you’re looking for something special on the rocks. 

Mixtape

Garfield

Friendly neighborhood cocktail bar with lots of board games 
This coffee-shop-meets-cocktail-bar is an eclectic space that gives you an excuse to hang out all day, transitioning from lattes and smoothies during daylight hours to creative cocktails in the evening. And if you’re looking for a little friendly competition, you’ve come to the right place: Mixtape offers a wide selection of old-school board games perfect for challenging your friends. The cocktail menu changes with the seasons (though a number of classics are always on the list), and every cocktail can be made vegan with a simple request. 
 

täkō

Downtown

Modern Mexican restaurant with a tequila wall and killer margaritas
If you’ve had a bad experience (or two) with tequila (and who hasn’t?), it’s usually because you’ve been drinking bad tequila. You won’t run into that problem at täkō, whose extensive tequila wall features a seemingly endless number of bottles of reposado, blanco, and añejo, plus a large collection of mezcal and rum, too. The margaritas are a must-try as well. On the regular menu, you’ll find täkō-standards like Pineapple Jalapeño, Thai Coconut, and Spicy Cucumber, and there's usually a special margarita or two on offer each night, based on the whims of the bartender. Just be warned: Reservations are hard to come by, and the bar fills up fast, so plan your evening accordingly. 

<a href="https://www.facebook.com/mixtapePGH/photos/a.752726398119236.1073741825.752720918119784/1146794305379108/?type=3&amp;theater" target="_blank">Mixtape</a>

Mixtape

Garfield

Friendly neighborhood cocktail bar with lots of board games 
This coffee-shop-meets-cocktail-bar is an eclectic space that gives you an excuse to hang out all day, transitioning from lattes and smoothies during daylight hours to creative cocktails in the evening. And if you’re looking for a little friendly competition, you’ve come to the right place: Mixtape offers a wide selection of old-school board games perfect for challenging your friends. The cocktail menu changes with the seasons (though a number of classics are always on the list), and every cocktail can be made vegan with a simple request. 

Il Tetto

Downtown

Rooftop beer garden with lively atmosphere and extensive beer menu
Sienna Mercato’s beautiful rooftop beer garden boasts 36 draft lines, a retractable glass roof (hello, winter drinking!), and a gorgeous view -- what more could you ask for in a drinking experience? Known for its holiday parties and fun, lively atmosphere (there’s always a crowd on nice evenings), Il Tetto also features a seasonal cocktail and wine list, and a selection of tasty bar snacks like homemade pork rinds and Buffalo chicken dip.
 

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Emily Catalano is the creator of Good Food Pittsburgh, a site devoted to all of the good food that her hometown has to offer. She loves fries on her salad, Jalapeno Hannah, and any event with a cookie table. Follow her at @emcatalano.