Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What Makes a Great Bar?

Recently we helped judge the Spirit Awards at Tales of the Cocktail, and several of the categories awarded bars for excelling in certain ways: best drinks selection, best classic cocktail bar, best new bar, etc. Bars like Zig Zag, Bourbon & Branch, Cantina, Vessel, Pegu Club and Flatiron Lounge were nomintaed in the various categories, and it was interesting to see why each place was nominated. And it got us to thinking more about the formula for a great bar and why we frequent certain places more than others. What is it that keeps you coming back to your favorite bars? Is it a certain drink, a bartender, the atmosphere, the crowd?

Also, a quick shout-out to our buddy Paul Clarke who got some kudos in a recent piece on Salon—check it out.

And welcome another Imbibe friend, Chuck Taggart, who for some weird reason is just now making it onto our blogroll. Chuck's blog is highly entertaining, and we always learn something new and interesting over there. And make sure you try his fantastic pimento dram recipe in the current issue—delicious! And a final welcome to The Thirstin' Howl, another fun blog and new addition to the roll.


jmk said...

What is it that keeps you coming back to your favorite bars? Is it a certain drink, a bartender, the atmosphere, the crowd?

All of the above, but especially the bartenders, spirits selection and drink list. Seasonal cocktails are always a good sign, and good food. I hate when I find a great bar with great everything except food. Seems like that is often forgotten which is a shame.

Geoff said...

I agree on the food, how do good bars let this slide? More and more I also look for places that do their own infusions, homemade liqueurs, etc. Definitely lots of fresh ingredients, and some classic cocktails (but not too common) are always essential.

Anonymous said...

Good beer and wine too. One of my favorite bars has stellar cocktails, but less than exciting beer and wine, which means I won't take my beer and wine friends there.

tina said...

I agree with jmk. Another thing I look for: places that change their offerings over time and don't get stuck in a rut. Finally, l need to feel comfortable in a place. i like to look at sleek bars with modern furniture & cool art, but if I can't settle in and feel welcome, I'm out the door.