20 Stunning Hotel Bars Around the Country
Stale bowls of peanuts and bottles of wine that have been open way too long? As if. These hotel bars are destination drinking spots, with sumptuous spaces and well-crafted libations. Check them out after you check in.
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Off the Record at The Hay Adams Hotel: Washington, D.C.
Awash in scarlet, this 80-seat lounge has gilded coffered ceilings and highly polished wooden floors, as well as a reputation as a place to be seen but not heard, per its hush-hush name. The walls showcase cartoon portraits of Washington bigwigs, part of a vast private portfolio of Arthur Wood recently acquired by the Library of congress. The hotel has also commissioned collectible, take-home drink coasters with notable politicians, including recent presidents and vice presidents, perfect for preventing drink rings from libations like the Trumpy Sour, with whiskey, barrel-aged bitters, lemon, thyme and honey. And if you work up an appetite from all that lobbying and hobnobbing, nosh on an order of OTR crab cake sliders.
Go to: Off the Record
Loa Bar at International House Hotel: New Orleans
Named for the voodoo word for deity or holy spirit, this stylish and romantic bar conjures an "extravagant taste of place" through regional ingredients and flavors brought to New Orleans from around the world. Creative Director Alan Walter incorporates foraged ingredients like Spanish moss, pine needles and catnip into infusions for libations served in vintage glassware and described on the menu as evocative and poetic musings. The 50 seats include soft chairs and banquettes covered in red velvet, and the intimate space is awash in candlelight. Eclectic libations include The Green Door, with chartreuse, Granny Smith apples, sage, mint, basil and lemon.
Go to: The International House
Thoroughbred Club at The Charleston Place Hotel: Charleston
Themed for the oldest Jockey Club in America (founded in 1792 near the hotel), this casually sophisticated 79-seat bar is dominated by leather and wood in tones of natural and burgundy. Accents including hand-forged iron tapas trays — crafted by blacksmithing student — reflect the influence of the ornamental ironwork found in the city’s historic homes and gardens. A broad selection of dark and aged spirits is used for drinks like the Blood Orange Boulevardier, with bourbon, vermouth, blood orange liqueur and Campari, and Mouzon’s Mash, which shakes bourbon with fresh peaches, mint and lemon. Drinks are designed to be sipped slowly, or savored with bar food like lump crab cakes with a warm tomato, bacon and corn salad.
Lobby Bar at The Brown Hotel: Louisville
The 103 bourbons at this 60-seat bar in the lobby of the storied Georgian revival hotel are prominently displayed front and center. (Fans of clear spirits and other non-whiskey beverages should look down behind the back bar.) If you’re not taking your bourbon neat, consider one of the impeccably made cocktails like the Brown Manhattan with bourbon, sweet vermouth and orange bitters, garnished with a boozy cherry, or the Kentucky Derby, the bar’s version of the Brown Derby, with bourbon, sorghum syrup and pink grapefruit juice. For food, the Hot Brown is practically mandatory. Invented here in 1926, the hangover helper tops Texas toast with roasted turkey, Roma tomatoes, bacon, Parmesan, parsley and mornay sauce, baked until golden brown.
Go to: The Brown Hotel
The Elephant Bar at The NoMad Hotel: New York City
Two large wooden elephants flank the center of the back bar at this 12-seat watering hole at the swanky NoMad Hotel. It sets a bold, international tone that suites the diverse clientele, world-class service and lively, high-volume environment. The Start Me Up cocktail, with bourbon, rum, Strega, honey, ginger, lemon and orange bitters, has been the most-ordered since the bar’s opening; the Walter Gibson Serves Two entices martini-loving duos, with gin, vodka, wine, blanc and dry vermouths and green apple eau de vie, aged in a beeswax bottle and served with house-made pickles; the food tends toward rich and luxurious, like a black truffle tart with creme fraiche and mascarpone.
Go to: The NoMad Bar
Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone: New Orleans
A longtime NOLA hotspot and the city’s only revolving bar, this 25-seat circus-themed merry-go-round, installed in 1949, invites guests to take a spin. Two thousand large steel rollers are pulled by a chain with a one-quarter horsepower motor that results in one revolution every fifteen minutes. Over the years, a carousel top, antiqued mirrors, a pewter bar surface and other details have been added. Two classic libations were created here: the Goody Cocktail, with white and dark rums, orange and pineapple juices, orgeat syrup and lemon-lime soda, and the Vieux Carré, a potent potable named for the French Quarter with rye, cognac, bénédictine, sweet vermouth bitters. A bar bites menu offers up blue crab and crawfish beignets and po’ boys.
Round Robin Bar at The Willard Intercontinental: Washington, D.C
Polished mahogany, green accents, a stately atmosphere and the distinctive bar-in-the-round have made this lively 75-seat icon a go-to for the District’s political and social elite since the days of Abraham Lincoln. Historically referred to as the nexus of Rum Row and the E Street Corridor, the bar was beloved by Mark Twain and Walt Whitman (the latter immortalized it in a poetic appeal to Union troops.) Kentucky senator Henry Clay introduced the city to the mint julep here, which eventually became the bar’s signature cocktail, with bourbon, sugar, branch water or soda water and mint leaves, served over crushed ice. Order one along with a Willard Burger, topped with fried onions, roasted tomatoes, raclette cheese and truffle aioli, and served with whiskey-salt fries.
Library Bar at The Rittenhouse Hotel: Philadelphia
Sink into a leather chair next to the fireplace and peruse a title with Pennsylvania ties at this 25-seat library-themed bar. Designed by Alexandra Champalimaud, the hideaway also features a black crystal chandelier and an etched, mirrored map of old Philadelphia behind the marble bar. To create an engaging, intimate feel, classic drinks like the Old Fashioned can be customized with your base spirit of choice, three kinds of bitters and maraschino liqueur. The namesake-inspired Perfect Square stirs bourbon with citrus liqueur, dry vermouth and bitters. Locally made spirits pop up in assort drinks, including the Philadelphia Sour, with Bluecoat American Dry Gin, juniper berry syrup and lemon, topped with syrah. In lieu of bar snacks, opt for traditional caviar service, with four different varieties, including a private label.
Berkshire Room at The Acme Hotel: Chicago
Redwood Room at The Clift Hotel: San Francisco
The Hawthorne at The Hotel Commonwealth: Boston
Twilight Sky Terrace at Madison Hotel: Memphis
Clyde Common at The Ace Hotel: Portland, Oregon
Driskill Bar at The Driskill Hotel: Austin
From the carpet featuring the hotel's namesake cattle brands, to the antique firearms along the walls, to the Widow Maker sculpture depicting a cowboy caught up in a runaway horse, this 150-seat bar — dating back to 1886 — nicely captures the grandeur and personality of Texas. Dunken overstuffed leather chairs, sofas and hassocks encourage prolonged conversations; live music six nights a week ramps up the energy. The Batini is the official cocktail of Austin, with vodka, hibiscus and ginger-infused syrup, sweet and sour and agave. Sink your teeth into house-made beef jerky (seasonings change daily), or Texas wagyu beef and pulled pork sliders with queso and hand-cut fries.
Rooftop Terrace at the 21c Hotel: Cincinnati
Vol. 39 at The Kimpton Gray Hotel: Chicago
The bookish theme for this 65-seat lounge housed in the former New York Life Insurance building was stirred by a trove of vintage encyclopedias discovered during renovations. Now tome-lined shelves join leather sofas, coffered ceilings and original Georgia Gray marble in a striking space that is opulent, yet approachable, and luxurious without pretense. The cocktail menu is creative and provocative, with modern touches and unexpected ingredients. A Calvados Old Fashioned replaces whiskey with apple brandy from Normandy, stirred with cardamom and bitters; a flight of six mini martinis (True, Astoria, Gibson, Dirty, Tuxedo and Suit & Tie) is served in vintage cordial glasses. Tableside caviar service is available, along with fun snacks like a crunchy snack mix of chicken skins, Marcona almonds and puffed quinoa.
Circular Bar at The Hotel Hershey: Hershey, Pennsylvania
The Chandelier Lounge at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas: Las Vegas
A stunning intersection of art and life, this bar features 113 seats, and two million crystals. A sparkling oval chandelier and a curtain of shimmering strands brighten the setting, with each crystal catching the light and guests' eyes. Three levels offer different experiences (and menus): a high-energy bar in the middle of the casino floor, a sanctuary for the cocktail connoisseur, and a swanky lounge for drinks like the Verbena, a mix of gin with the heady fragrance of lemon verbena and the kick of ginger, garnished with a Szechuan button flower to make your mouth tingle; the Infinite Playlist is an updated riff on the Old Fashioned, with a base of 12-year rum aged in bourbon barrels.