Travel

The Best Hotel Bar in 20 American Destination Cities

Published On 03/08/2016 Published On 03/08/2016
constantine bar
Courtesy of Constantine

Gone are the days when hotel bars -- much like their accompanying restaurants -- catered entirely to guests. No, today, they’re trendy and sleek and draw locals and travelers alike with stunning views and sophisticated cocktails. And while you might not book your hotel based on the bar alone, in some cases, you probably should. These are 20 of those cases.

Gustav Holland

Boston

The Hawthorne, Hotel Commonwealth

Address and Info

Kenmore Square

The Hawthorne beneath the Hotel Commonwealth looks like a friend's living room -- a friend with a good design sense, of course! -- and is a relaxed space to order up a cocktail or four while sitting fireside and contemplating the inevitably of death, traffic, and dropped R's. But mostly traffic. Also, it's a big supporter of Tiki culture in the summer, so get ready for some wicked-cool patio partying.

Los Angeles

Bar Marmont, Chateau Marmont

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West Hollywood

We're gonna eat shit for this pick, and we already know it. Even so, with all of the fantastic rooftop and "speakeasy-style" hotel cocktail bars in LA, there is no place quite like the bar at the Chateau Marmont -- if for no other reason than its legendary status as THE place where the celebrities (from Marilyn Monroe to Lindsay Lohan) have flocked for decades, evident in its palpable air of old Hollywood noir seediness. Order the Sunset Sour to complete the vibe.  

San Diego

JRDN Restaurant, TOWER23 Hotel

Address and Info

Pacific Beach

We could have named a Gaslamp District hotel bar here, but we didn't. Why? Because this is San Diego, FFS, and anything not on the ocean is a waste of time that could have been spent on the ocean. JRDN Restaurant at TOWER23 Hotel is on the ocean. Kick back with some San Diegan craft beer (there's nothing wrong with Sculpin all day, every day, of course, but it has plenty of others to choose from, too) and enjoy the surf, sunshine, and knowing that where you are right in that moment is the closest thing to paradise in the continental United States. Truth.   

Colin Beckett

Chicago

Sable Kitchen & Bar, Hotel Palomar

Address and Info

River North

In the heart of River North, where there is certainly no shortage of hotel bars from which to choose, Sable Kitchen & Bar at the Hotel Palomar is just a bit above the rest. Chicago's cocktail game is strong, no doubt, and Sable is an exemplary entrant into the "best cocktail bars of [such and such]" category. First, it organizes its cocktail list by the four elements -- earth, sky, ocean, fire. Then it has its house classics, as well as a long list of the classic classics. And then, it even has a section dedicated solely to Spanish-style gin and tonics, which will make any Douglas Adams fan happy. In fact, one of them SHOULD be named "Cuarenta y Dos" -- Spanish for 42. You're welcome, Sable Kitchen & Bar management.

Atlanta

The Wine Room, St. Regis Atlanta

Address and Info

Buckhead

Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play and they sip on fine wine like ev-er-y day. The Wine Room at the St. Regis has a list of over 500 vinos available by the bottle that's focused on high-quality American producers and single-vineyard boutique American wineries. It also conducts a "Champagne-sabering ritual" at 6pm every day (WHAT????) and has a lovely patio for you to sip your wine outdoors as the gods intended.

Delano Vegas

Las Vegas

Skyfall Lounge, The Delano

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Las Vegas

You could pick any one of Las Vegas' many (many) top-floor-with-a-Strip-view casino-resort-bar-lounges and pay $20 per drink and have a consistently unremarkable experience: VEGAS, BABY. Or, you could head up to Skyfall, a more sophisticated establishment (meaning the headlining DJ goes on before 2am) with a cocktail list that might actually earn Vegas its reputation as a cocktail city (a reputation, mind you, built on market and myth).

The newly remodeled Skyfall Lounge, formerly Mix Lounge, sits atop the 64-floor Delano Las Vegas and rocks a solid view of the Strip. And it offers a refreshing departure from the usual Grey Goose-and-Bacardi drinks (although, yes, it still has those -- it is Vegas) with cocktails like the Kentucky Colada, made with Elijah Craig bourbon and Appleton rum with coconut, lime juice, and Tiki spices.

Miami

The Broken Shaker, Freehand Miami Hostel

Address and Info

South Beach

In the land of surfside South Beach ultra-luxe hotels with their ultra-trendy ultra-lounge bars, The Broken Shaker and the Freehand Miami Hostel stick out like a sore thumb and welcome oasis. Enjoy the clever cocktails made with house-made elixirs, syrups, and infusions (and fresh herbs) at this highly acclaimed bar that's been named one of the best in America by the laudable Tales of the Cocktail. It's also one of our 33 best cocktail bars in America. And it's practically surfside!

San Francisco

The Big 4, The Scarlet Huntington

Address and Info

Nob Hill

This Nob Hill institution is the antithesis of the Silicon Valley/Silicon Valley tech scene, and that's exactly what we love about it. It is unrepentantly old... dating back to ye olde 1976, which, granted, isn't OLD old, but it looks the part, what with the Old World carved wood walls, studded green leather (vinyl?) chairs and banquettes, and the old people who hang out here. It is NOT AT ALL HIP, and really, isn’t that kind of refreshing in a city like San Francisco, where a place's measure of worth is directly proportional to the number of tech bros/trustafarian hipsters willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money/wait an exorbitant amount of time just to be able to check in on whatever the new Foursquare is and post a heavily hashtagged photo of whatever the new Instagram is? Order a barrel-aged Negroni for the not-absurd-for-San Francisco price of $14 and be done with it. As Barney Stinson once had to find out the hard way, new is not always better.

Nick Simonite

Austin

The Lounge, Hotel San José

Address and Info

South Congress

In hip, hipper, and hippest Austin, where do you even begin? Question and answer: at the lounge at Hotel San José, a zen-like garden courtyard with mellow DJs and Sunday jazz brunches. It's hip without being too hip(ster) -- a bit artsy, a bit fartsy, and tucked away enough to draw in the locals and the tourists. Order a michelada (made with Shiner Bock, OBVIOUSLY) with some Jimmies jerk chicken wings and hang out the Austin way.

Courtesy of Constantine

Minneapolis

Constantine, Hotel Ivy

Address and Info

Downtown

Are we partial to this place because it happens to share the name of one of the greatest DC Comics characters of all time, for which a pretty great, pretty underrated TV show was made then cancelled after only one season (as well as a movie before it that was actually completely fucking cool, from Keanu Reeves right down to Tilda Swinton and Peter Stormare)? Fine, a bit, yes. Or how about because it has a freakin' "Whiskey Chapel"? And a vaguely occultist theme. If vampires were real, they would totally hang out here.

Ron Manville

Nashville

The 404 Kitchen, The 404  

Address and Info

Downtown

Why a hotel and restaurant inside repurposed shipping containers? Because it is a hotel and restaurant inside repurposed shipping containers. The 404 is a five-room micro-boutique hotel with an attached restaurant that shows off the possibilities and versatility of, well, living and working in a shipping container. The 404 Kitchen has an intimate six-seat bar (another way of saying it's really small), and an excellent cocktail list that boasts modern twists on classics and an acclaimed lineup of bourbon, rare whiskey, and Scotch.

Detroit

Michael Symon's Roast, The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

Address and Info

Downtown

It's the bar that kickstarted Detroit's culinary and cocktail renaissance (and yes, that's a real thing) and was the first true "see-and-be-seen" spot there in a loooooooong time. The bar has served as something of a mixologist vocational training center, grooming some of Motor City's most talented bartenders since it opened in 2008. The must-try drink? The Last Word.

Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Louisville

Proof on Main, 21c Museum Hotel

Address and Info

Downtown

If you find yourself at a 21c Museum Hotel anywhere in the country -- like chic Cincinnati, or glamorous Bentonville, Arkansas -- just know you're in a good place. While we don’t totally understand the methodology behind its location scouting, it definitely seems to be working, and we're not complaining.

At Proof on Main, you'll gawk at the 21c's collection of contemporary art as you wander through the lobby en route to the bar, then you'll gawk even harder at the extensive bourbon selection -- you are in Bourbon Country, after all -- and the inventive cocktail menu. Try the Missionary, the most expensive cocktail on the menu at $12, or go all-in with a barrel-proof bourbon flight.

Washington DC

Off the Record, The Hay-Adams

Address and Info

Downtown

In a city overflowing with skeletons stuffed in closets and where any sort of social gathering space doubles as a venue for elbow-rubbing and relentless networking, politicking, plotting, secret back-room dealings... ooof, sorry, House of Cards binging in preparation for the new season... anyway, it's nice to be in a bar that is tongue-in-cheek about it all. It likes to bill itself as Downtown DC's place to be "seen and not heard," which is a cute way of referring to all the networking, politicking, plotting, secret back-room dealings, etc. An old-school DC bar that was once a hotspot for politicians and the journalists who love them (hoo-boy, if those walls could talk...), Off the Record is a super-sexy space (in that old-school DC way) with a so-so cocktail list, worse beer list, slightly better wine list, and surprisingly great Scotch list. Therefore, this is a place where you order Scotch. Scotch Scotch Scotch.

Hotel Monteleone

New Orleans

The Carousel Bar, Hotel Monteleone

Address and Info

French Quarter

This is a no-brainer. New Orleans has lots and lots and lots and lots of bars, and lots and lots and lots and lots of hotels (with bars), and so very many of them are great places to drink in -- seriously some of the all-around best in the country. But the rotating Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone is so exceptionally iconic that it stands just that much more above the rest. And when you're here, you must order a Sazerac, the actually IRL official cocktail of New Orleans.

Courtesy of PUNCH media

Philadelphia

Square 1682, Hotel Palomar

Address and Info

Rittenhouse Square

If the truffle popcorn isn't enough to sell you on the place, perhaps the fact that it was named the number-one bar in America by USA Today readers will. Sure, it's possible you have different tastes from the typical USA Today reader, but the publication also managed to name Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago and Proof on Main in Louisville -- both of which also made this list -- so it's a pretty solid endorsement. An even more solid endorsement comes courtesy of us, right here.

New York City

Top of the Standard, The Standard High Line

Address and Info

Meatpacking District

There is arguably no more visible, more prominent, more recognized, or more discussed adaptive reuse/urban greenspace project than the High Line in New York, a public park built on a historic freight line rail elevated above the streets of Manhattan's West Side. Slap up a well-regarded boutique hotel on one end of it with a top-floor space-age lounge, live jazz, dramatic views of the city, and drink prices that are not in keeping with the rest of the city (still not as bad as Vegas, ya whiners), and you've got yourself a must-have Manhattan experience. This might not be THE best bar in a hotel in all of New York City, but it is an exceptional New York City experience.

Jannie Huang

Portland

Clyde Common, The Ace Hotel

Address and Info

Downtown

You gotta love a bar that has a fairly robust selection of absinthe. There was a push a few years back when it seemed like absinthe was going to become "a thing," but it never really quite landed. Sure, the taste isn’t for everyone, but the ritual is pretty much the coolest interactive drinking experience you can have. So Clyde Common carries French, Swiss, and Washingtonian absinthe -- this being Portland and all, you know there's gotta be something semi-local -- as well as a sizable selection of small-batch and single-barrel bourbons, and wheated bourbons, and cask-strength bourbons, and Tennessee whiskeys, and rye whiskeys, and barrel-aged cocktails, and exclusively Oregon drafts, and a whole separate menu of brunch cocktails that includes a brandy milk punch which you almost never see outside of New Orleans. Yeah, this is a place you want to drink.

Six Seven

Seattle

Six Seven Restaurant, The Edgewater

Address and Info

Elliot Bay

We picked this for the view. There may be better bars, and better hotel bars -- or maybe not! Six Seven is a pretty terrific bar in its own right, but there are absolutely no better views in the entire city of Seattle -- OK, maybe from the Space Needle, but whatever. This particular hotel is the only over-water and waterfront hotel in the Seattle area. That's it. The only one. It's located on a pier in Elliott Bay, part of the Puget Sound, and Six Seven is a restaurant and bar with some seriously jaw-dropping outdoor seating. The cocktail menu is full of creative and classic concoctions that will please any beverage enthusiast, including a build-your-own mule menu, several barrel-aged cocktails, breakfast cocktails, and after-dinner cocktails. That's a lot of round-the-clock cocktails. The spirits list is extensive and there's probably some beer and wine in there too, but who cares. Also, the view. Also also, this hotel has a long history of rock pedigree, having hosted The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Kurt Cobain. The Seattle sound on the Sound -- there's a certain poetry to that, yes? We'll drink to that!  

Courtesy of Omni William Penn Hotel

Pittsburgh

Speakeasy, Omni William Penn Hotel

Address and Info

Downtown

Speakeasy is a Prohibition-era bar that is actually a Prohibition-era bar, dating back to the 1920s (although it was used as a storage space for years before being restored to its former glory). Enjoy pre-Prohibition classics, Pennsylvania-inspired cocktails, and the "Signature Collins Service," which is just like, "Yes, tableside Collinses please!" and makes the Grey Goose bottle service at bars in, say, Las Vegas, just so... sigh.

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Nicole Rupersburg lives in Las Vegas and likes it well enough, except when it comes to shitty cocktails at stupid prices and the sad-sack "beer scene." Follow her on IG where she will often make fun of these things: @eatsdrinksandleaves.

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1. The Hawthorne 500A Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215 (Fenway Kenmore)

You'll want to dress to impress at this refined lounge tucked underneath the Hotel Commonwealth, where nationally acclaimed co-owner and bar director Jackson Cannon has built an experience that revolves around thoughtfully crafted cocktails, similar to his beloved sister establishment, Eastern Standard. Warm and comfortable with low tables and plenty of armchairs, drinking at The Hawthorne is almost like sitting in someone’s living room, except you're sipping on exceptional drinks like the Air Mail (a champagne cocktail with white rum, honey, lime and bitters) and small bites like deviled eggs with crispy prosciutto, pickled anchovy, and chorizo toast.

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2. Bar Marmont 8171 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046 (West Hollywood)

Bar Marmont specializes in simplistic yet flavorful plates made with fresh local produce. Deserts include hot fudge sundae, chocolate pot de creme, and piping hot caramel glazed beignet which— and this is true— is also known as “WTF’s” on the menu. Set in the romantic Chateau Marmont, this spot is a romantic flick waiting to happen (because, of course, this is LA).

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3. JRDN 723 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

JRDN is a contemporary steak and seafood restaurant at the Tower23 Hotel that serves up California cuisine in menu sections like raw bar, starters, soups and salads, and “supper” and “butcher’s cut,” both of which feature larger plates, like American wagyu skirt steak and baked rigatoni with milk-braised pork shoulder, Swiss chard, lemon, and oregano. The décor is fresh, cool, clean, and upbeat, with polished concrete floors, dark leather booths, and light wood tables and chairs. Head to JRDN before dusk to witness the 70-foot long “wave wall” at the back of the restaurant as it’s filled with an ambient reflection of the Pacific sunset.

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4. Hotel Palomar 505 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Near North Side)

Finding its home in the Near North Side, the Palomar is a top-rated hotel that keeps you close to all the shopping, drinking, and eating that you want to do in downtown Chicago. But you don't have to go far for a fun night out: the Sable Kitchen & Bar offers a high-energy bar scene. A nod to father of Chicago Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the bar brings the elegant 1940s back to life, inspired by the art and science of creating refreshing and surprising cocktails.

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5. The St. Regis Atlanta 88 West Paces Ferry Rd, Atlanta, GA 30305 (Buckhead)

The five-diamond St. Regis is Buckhead's crowning jewel, boasting spacious guest rooms adorned in custom furnishings and bespoke artwork. And to take your stay to the next level, each of its 31 luxury suites has exclusive access your very own Mr. Belvedere. Check out the pool area with a poolside cafe and waterfall, or treat yourself to the full-service spa, fitness room or game room. Don’t forget to check out the Wine Room with over 500 wines available by the bottle or glass, which you can enjoy indoors or on the patio.

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6. Skyfall Lounge 3940 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119 (Strip)

Skyfall is located within the 43-story Delano Las Vegas, an upscale hotel with chic, modern suites, floor-to-ceiling windows and luxe bathrooms (can you say jacuzzis). Take in panoramic views of the Strip at this breathtaking cocktail lounge and roof bar. It doesn't even matter that the drinks are good when you have a view like this (but rest assured, with Death & Co bartenders at the helm, the drinks are damn good). Skyfall Lounge is socated adajacent to Rivea, French master chef Alain Ducasse's elegant ode to French/Med fusion fare.

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7. The Broken Shaker 2727 Indian Creek Dr, Miami, FL 33140 (Miami Beach)

The Broken Shaker's insanely good hand-crafted cocktails are made using herbs and spices from their own garden (say it together now: no mo gmo). Sip and kick back in the hostel's backyard in a hammock, play on the ping pong table, or take a dip in the pool. The Freehand Miami may just be one of the coolest places you’ve ever stayed— it’s a restored art deco building only minutes away from the Bass Museum of Art and the Miami beach. You gotta check it out, bro.

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8. Big 4 Restaurant 1075 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108 (Nob Hill)

With dark wood, white tablecloths, and a 1976-era carved wood walls, walking into this place feels like taking a step back in time. This decidedly un-San Franciscan bar/restaurant, in addition to being refreshingly different than the modern Silicon Valley establishments, boasts classic American cuisine, barrel-aged Negroni, and elegant piano music.

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9. Hotel San Jose 1316 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 (South Austin)

A former 1930s motor lodge, Hotel San Jose is now one of the hippest bars and music venues in SoCo. Its minimalistic rooms feature tribal fabrics, handmade decor, and minibars. Larger rooms have patio seating, while suites have access to outdoor porches or gardens. The leafy courtyard bar and lounge has a wading pool and the occasional live music.

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10. Constantine 1115 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (Downtown)

Housed in the luxurious Hotel Ivy in Downtown Minneapolis, this subterranean, slightly vampiric bar is known for its "Whiskey Chapel" and various cocktail offerings, all crafted by mixologists. Constantine also serves a number of elevated bar bites, like fois gras nachos. Despite the decor and fancy dishes, Constantine never takes itself too seriously, which is evident in its cocktail names. For example, one of the best cocktails on the menu is the Lumbersexual, with contains citrus vodka, orange curacao, lime, and cranberry cordials.

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11. The 404 Kitchen 404 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203 (Downtown)

Housed in a downtown shipping container, this intimate spot barely fits 40 diners, but it's worth a visit if only for its 150-strong whiskey collection that features obscure selections and mainstream brands alike. The dishes emerging from the tiny kitchen -- like the peach and tomato salad, or the rabbit with dandelion greens -- use gamey meats and peasant ingredients like squash, cornbread, and red potatoes to create an assembly of homey flavors.

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12. Roast 1128 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226-1907

Headed by Iron Chef Michael Symon, Roast is a massive, highly decorated, 200-seat steakhouse. Its bar/lounge is also known for dishing out some of Detroit's best cocktails, each made with fresh ingredients. Located within the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, the bar’s Renaissance-style ambiance will make your night out feel classy as can be.

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13. Proof on Main 702 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Located in The 21c Museum Hotel Louisville, a boutique hotel and art museum, Proof on Main serves up gourmet meals from Chef Levon Wallace, including a unique and scrumptious burger made out of bison and topped with a Jezebel sauce that gives it a fruity, earthy flavor, plus Tillamook cheddar and applewood-smoked bacon. You'll want to throw in a side of the crispy cauliflower, and top it all off with the s'mores dessert. This trendy spot houses the Proof Bar, too, which offers an enormous bourbon list (we're talking upwards of 50 varieties).

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14. Off the Record 800 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006 (Downtown)

If you're across the street from the White House, head to Off the Record. Situated in the Italian Renaissance-style Hay-Adams hotel, this aptly named haunt looks like an over-the-top hideaway of the political elite. Don't be surprised if you noticed Frank Underwood sipping a Sazerac by the bar...

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15. Carousel Bar & Lounge 214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (French Quarter)

Featuring an actual carousel bar that revolves around patrons, the French Quarter's Carousel Bar & Lounge mixes classic and contemporary cocktails like Sazeracs and Pimm's Cups, pairing them with New Orleans-style bar bites like seafood okra gumbo and po boys. Live jazz music entertains a slightly more dressed-up clientele, who'll endure a wait to snag a table at the circular bar.

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16. Square 1682 121 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Rittenhouse)

Located adjacent to Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, Square 1682 features locally sourced produce and meats, and pours distinctive craft cocktails that are as imaginative as they are tasteful. And not for nothing, was named number one bar in America by USA Today. But if that doesn't impress you, the truffle popcorn will.

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17. Top Of The Standard 848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014 (East Village)

Come for the view, but stay for the bacon-wrapped shrimp. This rooftop bar serves up unparalleled 360 views of the city (and New Jersey!) and a Sex And The City-style brunch including small plates of smoked salmon tarts and Mother of Pearl cocktails.

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18. 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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19. The Edgewater Hotel 2411 Alaskan Way, Pier 67, Seattle, WA 98121 (Downtown)

The Edgewater is an upscale waterfront hotel located minutes away from the Port of Seattle ferries and Pike Place Market. The rustic-elegant ambiance will make you feel like you’re staying in a luxurious log cabin, except it isn’t actually in the woods but instead on a pier over Elliot Bay. (Regardless, no rustic lobby lounge would be complete without a stone fireplace, and they’ve got one.) Within the hotel is the Six Seven Restaurant, famous for its waterside indoor and outdoor seating which offers breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.

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20. Speakeasy 530 William Penn Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Recently renovated with an art deco design scheme and a swanky bar, the space is tucked away in the basement of Pittsburgh’s luxurious Omni William Penn Hotel and offers lots of well-crafted, Prohibition and Pennsylvania-inspired cocktails.

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