Food & Drink

The Best Places to Drink in Pittsburgh Right Now

Updated On 12/04/2017 at 06:06PM EST Updated On 12/04/2017 at 06:06PM EST
Courtesy of Hidden Harbor

Hidden Harbor

Squirrel Hill North

A tropical tiki bar with island-inspired cocktails
Letting your troubles float away is the idea behind the tiki-inspired spot, with tropical touches like a mermaid statue at the head of the bar and fresh flowers adorning almost every glass. 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 Gardenia Grog (gin, rhum agricole, Jamaican rum, lemon, raspberry, lavender, lemongrass, vanilla, cantaloupe, pineapple, bitters, and rose water) packing a solid punch. Plus, if you ever see a drink on a bar menu that says it serves four, you know you’re in a good spot. 

Gooski's

Polish Hill

No-nonsense dive with friendly staff and cheap drinks 
This Polish Hill mainstay has been getting a lot of attention lately (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 INC

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. 

Kelly’s Bar & Lounge

East Liberty

Old-school bar with an extensive drink list and low prices
If you go to Kelly’s Bar & Lounge and don’t order the mac & cheese, you’re doing it wrong. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the drinks. This Pittsburgh mainstay has classic cocktails, draft beer (lots of bottles, too), and a crowd that ranges from hipsters to grandparents, which is exactly what you want in a laid-back neighborhood bar. And the friendly, welcoming staff is an added bonus.

Butterjoint

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.

Spirit

Lawrenceville

Eclectic multi-level bar with live music, cocktails, and pizza 
Sure, this festive space is a little weird. It’s a hybrid music venue, bar, event space, and pizza parlor, but it just works, with events happening almost every night of the week, from live music to Bingo Bango, the Sunday-night bingo game. The bar menu features a Pittsburgh-heavy rotation of draft brews, an admirable can list, and a bevy of classic cocktails, with a twist -- think Gin & Juice with carrot and ginger. Plus, for only $5, you’re going to find one of the best picklebacks you’ve ever had, thanks to their house pickle brine. 
 

Maggie's Farm Rum

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. 
 

Bar Marco

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 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 rosĂ© 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

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. 
 

Scratch Food & Beverage

Scratch Food & Beverage

Troy Hill

Comfortable, casual spot with a long list of local booze options
Simple, seasonal food and drinks are what you’ll find at this Troy Hill restaurant and bar, and (as the name suggests) everything is made from scratch. The cocktail list is broken into two parts: Scratch Classics (Brown Derbys, Palomas, White Russians) and Made from Scratch, which highlights the bar's own bartender-created concoctions. There's also a wine and beer list that changes with the seasons, as well as an excellent selection of brunch drinks, including the Fire & Ice (made with Pittsburgh local Commonplace Coffee, firewater, and Kahlua). 

Speakeasy

Downtown

Underground speakeasy-style hotel bar in the Omni William Penn
Tucked beneath the Omni William Penn Hotel’s lobby, Speakeasy is a secluded bar that stays true to its Prohibition-era name with dark wood, plush seating, and a tin roof. The drink menu is straight from the 1920s, too, with a selection of Highball cocktails, classics (Sidecars and Sazeracs are made perfectly), and an array of Old Fashioneds and Gimlets are available, along with a serviceable list of single malts and blended Scotch. 
 

TĂ„KO

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 täkĹŤ, 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 täkĹŤ-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. 

Grapperia

Lawrenceville

Italian grappa and amari bar with low-key atmosphere
You don’t have to travel overseas to feel like you’re in Italy -- just stop at this Lawrenceville grappa bar (just behind sister restaurant Piccolo Forno), have a limoncello, and make believe for a little while. Grapperia’s menu is centered around grappa, an Italian brandy that’s made by distilling the pulp and skins from grapes used in winemaking, and the place offers more than three dozen options straight up, along with a number of grappa cocktails (a lavender-infused grappa served with green pepper honey and lemon juice is a lightly floral, bright-tasting delight). There's also an extensive list of amari (an Italian herbal liqueur) and Italian wines on the menu. 
 

Mixtape

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. 

Smallman Galley

Strip District

Restaurant incubator with a galley-style bar full of local selections
You’ll find plenty to love at Smallman Galley’s cozy bar which offers a wide selection of local beers and craft cocktails, all designed to pair well with the incubator’s four restaurant concepts (currently brunoise, Iron Born, Banhmilicious and Colonia). The bar features 20 drafts on tap, with hometown selections ranging from Braddock’s Brew Gentlemen to Millvale’s Grist House, and the cocktail program epitomizes fun, with themes that pay tribute to pop culture classics, from mid-century pulp novels to The Sandlot. During the day, the bar turns into a cafe serving coffee, espresso, and lattes. 

Sienna Mercato

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.
 

The Goldmark

Lawrenceville

DJ-owned bar with low-key vibes and nightly live sets
This Lawrenceville bar is the perfect spot for a fun night out. There are DJs spinning regularly and a cocktail menu packed with takes on classic drinks (the Gold Fashioned spiked with black walnut bitters is a favorite), but what the bar is really known for are its beer and shot combos. Choose from Tier 1 (think Iron City & Old Grand Dad), Tier 2 (like Blue Moon & Absolut mandarin) or Tier 3 (Bell’s Two Hearted & Blanton’s are an option) based on your drink (and cost) preference. Then throw back, sip, and repeat.