May 8 2013

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Cocktail crazy: A few of America’s best cocktail bars

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The Violet Hour

Purple reign: The Violet Hour is the best cocktail bar in Chicago. Photo: Courtesy of the Violet Hour

Mixology is all the rage these days and cocktail bars are making a big comeback. The good news for tippling travelers is that exciting new bars are popping up in cities across the country. Here’s a sampling of some of best places to imbibe.

Weather Up in the heart of New York City is doing classic cocktails right with a commitment to using only the finest ingredients. This even includes making their own ice with the same machines used to create ice sculptures. Bartenders hand-carve crystal-clear pieces of ice from a 300 pound block for every cocktail they serve. Weather Up recently opened an outpost in Austin, Texas, where every Monday is Tiki Night and their well-trained bartenders sling Mai Tais and Devil Mugs.

The Violet Hour is a Prohibition-era speakeasy in the middle of modern Chicago. In addition to making craft cocktails, the Violet Hour collaborates with local distilleries to create one-of-a-kind concoctions. This means that they’re serving drinks you literally can’t get anywhere else. The Juliet & Romeo (with Beefeater gin, mint, cucumber, and rose water) was voted one of the best cocktails in America by GQ magazine.

If you’re a whiskey or rum aficionado, then San Francisco is the city for you. Hard Water is a whiskey bar in the New Orleans style, serving more than 130 kinds of bourbon and rye. If you want to try a variety of whiskeys straight up, the expert bartenders would be happy to help you put together a flight that will please your palate.

The Smuggler’s Cove is another San Francisco specialty bar, this one serving more than 400 rare rums. One of those rums is Eurydice, which is grown locally in California and is exclusive to Smuggler’s Cove. Ambitious imbibers can join the Rumbustion Society and sample their way through the Cove’s extensive liquor library.

More About: Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith is a writer, traveler and lover of cities currently living in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter at @shameonseamus.
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