When the conversation turns to cocktails, as it often does at Food & Wine, there’s one person we listen to loud and clear: Jim Meehan. He’s been called many things, including: Bartender of the Year; the bar manager at Manhattan’s outstanding PDT (aka, the place that you walk through a phone booth to enter); and Deputy Editor of the "F&W Cocktail" book series. Because this is one of the best times in memory to be drinking great cocktails, we asked Meehan to pick his 10 favorite new spots in the country. He obliged.
“This place is brilliant,” says Meehan, of The Barrelhouse Flat in Chicago, who also likes that it’s open later than most places in the city (the website doesn’t include closing times). The huge bar houses two concepts. Downstairs is casual, with a great jukebox and a gorgeous punchbowl set up (available by the cup, the pitcher and the bowl). Upstairs, you can find more of that perennially popular NYC speakeasy ambience.
Bellocq, a classic-looking spot in the new Hotel Modern in New Orleans, features the team from the city’s sensational bar Cure: Neal Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal and Matthew Kohnke. “Here we have an elegant alternative to the craziness of Bourbon Street,” Meehan says. “They’re focusing on cool things, like great cobblers [refreshing, fruit-based drinks]. Making good drinks in New Orleans is challenging: It’s hot! The food is rich! And they get it done.”
Like the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team, the Woodsman Tavern in Portland, Ore., is is a collaboration of all-stars. Mixologist Evan Zimmerman is teamed up with Duane Sorrenson (owner of the exceptional Stumptown coffee) and chef Jason Barwikowski (formerly of Clyde Common). “It’s really comfortable, has great food and has the amenity of one of the city’s best bartenders making your drinks,” says Meehan.
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