Spirits & Cocktails

Snooth User: gr

An international cocktail bar map, humbly submitted for your use.

Posted by gr, May 17, 2009.

RBoulanger, who started the project, and I have been gradually adding depth and breadth to a Google map of bars that can provide quality cocktails. It is, given our passports, US-centric at the moment, although there is a bit of a diaspora. I think it's reached the point where neither of us would be terribly embarrassed for other people to see it, and we would certainly welcome further additions.

It is here: http://tinyurl.com/cocktailsoftheworld

You may note the complete absence of NYC locations on that map. That's because RBoulanger's residence there means that that's kept separately for efficiency (there'd be a separate Philadelphia one because of me if there were enough volume to warrant it, but there isn't... yet). NYC is here: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=U...

Replies

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Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2009.

Interesting and useful project! Saw you had the ABSOLUT ICEBAR TOKYO in Nishi Azabu as the only entrant so far for Japan. It's a gimmicky bar (by definition, of course), and I'm surprised it's lasted this long. Every other restaurant or bar or club on that floor in that building (or on *any* floor in that building) has died an early death, and I could rattle off close to 10 earlier business lives lost in that exact same space.

You might consider Agave in Roppongi, and the Old Imperial Bar in the Imperial Hotel in Hibiya as additions for Tokyo. There are others I'll report on when I next check them, but the first two have been around for many, many years and serve the two best Margaritas I've had in Japan (outside my home, that is ;-) ).

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Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2009.

Also, as for Singapore, the Raffles Hotel has several bars. The Long Bar
http://www.raffles.com/EN_RA/Proper...
is where the Sling was supposedly invented, and they merchandise this fact a bit too much. That bar was a far more interesting place back before the hotel was redone in the '90s...

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Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2009.

So are you going after bars that orginated specific classic cocktails (Harry's that helped popularize the Martini, Raffles for the Sling, El Floridita for the Daiquiri, etc.), or spots that are happening now? Or a little of both? Too bad Trader Vic's isn't still around in the SF Bay Area so you could honor the MaiTai, which when made properly (all too often not these days) is a wicked-good cocktail...

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Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2009.

Thinking about the mai tai a little further, they always seem better in a tropical location, which somehow brings Hawaii to mind in the American context. And they are much better when made in classical fashion than the out-of-a-bottle sweetly monstrous mix that so many bars seem to serve to tourists everywhere, especially Hawaii. Have, however, had good ones at these bars over many years, all on Oahu:

Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki
Pretty close to perfection at the House Without A Key, and a proper clone of Trader Vic's original. The hotel is very upscale for Waikiki, but the bar warrants a special visit.

Jameson's By The Sea, Haleiwa
Up on Oahu's north shore, with the big waves of Sunset, Banzai Pipeline and Waimea closeby, but the lanai at Jameson's is worth a special visit at sundown to catch the crisp curl of their Mai Tais. A perfect Hawaiian sundowner.

New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel
The very end of Waikiki up towards Diamond Head, on Sans Souci beach. Great tree on the lanai that Robert Louis Stevenson supposedly wrote under. If they still have Aloha Friday with live music, it's a good time to drink their classic mai tais and stare out to sea--also a fantastic sundowner. If the New Otani seems a little too long in the tooth, and not hip enough for you, the W Hotel is right next door and their club will provide a *very* different change of scenery...

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Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2009.

Although it doesn't do a lot of specialty cocktails you should probably add the New York Bar (which has a grill restaurant attached) to Tokyo. At the top of the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku, they serve good martinis, and the barstaff are educated and enlightened enough to adopt suggestions. Decent live jazz vocals and ensembles, and unsurpassed unobstructed views of half of Tokyo (the other half from the restaurant) from their 52nd floor perch in the building. Was where Lost in Translation was filmed, and I feel a personal affinity for the place because I lived for a tumultuous month one floor down...

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Reply by Philip James, May 18, 2009.

Great work guys. Question is, how many have you personally visited?

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Reply by Philip James, May 18, 2009.

I may have been to Aqua, but am not certain. Mark and I went to Bourbon and Branch in SF. Milk and Honey in London of course. I've yet to check the NYC map.

Can you add the Mosquito Bar, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia (a must stop if you are ever in the Amazon!):

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sou...

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Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2009.

The Mango Bar in Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica is also a good one. Are as likely to run into drug runners up from Colombia as pro snowboarders who are 'summering' on the surfbreak at the point on the coast here. Oh, and their cocktails are well made. Have had wellmade pina coladas, margaritas and maitais there (and lots of shots of good tequila with cerveza backs...).

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Reply by RachelNYC, May 19, 2009.

Agave in Roppongi was more of a cigar / tequila bar rather than a cocktail bar in my opinion, but it has been about 5 years since I was there.

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Reply by RachelNYC, May 19, 2009.

Love the New York list! It is great check list... been there, done that, need to try that...

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Reply by dmcker, May 19, 2009.

Agave is very much a tequila bar (400 varieties), with limited food offerings and some cigars, but it definitely does a range of excellent classic margaritas as well. Good margaritas are hard to find in this part of the world, and Agave's are probably the best in Japan.

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Reply by gr, May 26, 2009.

Wow, somehow I missed ALL of these replies. Most likely, I deleted the first notification email figuring I'd remember to get back to it and then saw no further email notifications (not that I'm complaining about that behavior of the email notifications, mind, Mark). So, here we go, from the top, with a certain degree of "folding"...

@dmcker:

I've been in the Icebar in Rome (the photograph I use here comes from there, in fact), which was definitely nothing but gimmick. I'm given to understand that the one in Tokyo has at least moderate mixology chops, and I withhold judgement (but a mutual friend of RBoulanger's and mine has recently moved back to Tokyo, and this serves as a reminder to tell him to give us a first-hand take there and a second opinion of your additions). I've added your Tokyo suggestions.

I've updated the Raffle's Hotel listing per your comments and also to clarify (what I think is) our source, http://behindthebarshow.blogspot.com/ .

The original principle of the map was to list places where it is still worth going. Often that's because they're doing a good job now (and that's certainly the point for the ones we've actually visited), but historical locations of relevance that deserve a visit deserve a listing, in my opinion. I do, however, think it's not worth listing places it's no longer possible to visit: it's bad enough reading Degroff and Regan blather on about them.

I've added your Hawaiian contributions, quoting your descriptions, and also the New York Bar in Shinjuku, referencing you explicitly. That's what you get for speaking up! ;^>

I'm afraid that "Mango Bar, Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica" doesn't seem to turn up accurate hits on Google. Perhaps you'd care to either clarify or simply contribute directly? It sounds like a wonderful place to visit!

@Philip:

You've opened quite the can of worms with the visitation question. Here goes:

RBoulanger and I have both been to (often together, but not always): Drink in Boston, Apothecary (APO) in Philly, Napoloeon in NOLA (he and I obviously had different experiences; his description is on the map), and Louis 649, Death & Company, Employees Only, Angel's Share, PDT, and Little Branch in Manhattan. I probably missed several things in the NYC list there.

I've been to Beretta, DNA Lounge, Absinthe, and Toronado in SF; Monarch in STL; the Chart Room, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop and several other places I'm forgetting in NOLA; Andy Poolhall in Toronto; Sansom Street Oyster House, Chick's Cafe, Noble, Southwark, and The Ugly American in PHL; and Deep Ellum and Eastern Standard in Boston.

Close friends of mine (no small portion of them professional bartenders) have been to and recommended Jardinière, Millennium Restaurant, Zeitgeist, Alembic, and Bourbon & Branch in SF; Vessel in Seattle; Milk & Honey in its various locations; Aqua in Hong Kong; Bar Pilar, The Gibson, and Proof in DC; and the Randolphe in Manhattan (I've drunk with bartenders from there while they were in Philly, I keep meaning to actually get THERE).

I know someone who works at (but have not yet visited) Drinkshop in Atlanta. Also, there's a new hire at Apothecary who started at a joint in Boise, Idaho that probably merits investigation, but I want to quiz him about it a bit more in person before I recommend it to the world.

In other news, I would gladly have added your Mosquito Bar to the map, but "Mosquito Bar, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia" turns up the region roughly, but, I don't think, the establishment, given that the only in-country hit is for a state park. Perhaps you'd care to narrow things down a bit? (If I had a gmail account for you, you'd already have access to do so, in fact.)

@RachelNYC:

We've included several places that aren't really Proper cocktail bars, in some cases because they've got clued bartenders, in others because they just do what they do (beer, tequila, atmosphere, history) Well. But your assertions are (explicitly!) noted.

Honestly, I think the NYC list needs some culling. There are several places on that map that I think are... how do I put this politely? ... "posing".

Thank you all for your recommendations! If anyone would like the ability to contribute (and promises to Play Nice--not that the whole thing isn't versioned and revertible, just don't be an asshole), we're happy to provide that. Just drop RBoulanger or me a private message with your Google username and we'll tack you on as a contributor.

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Reply by gr, May 26, 2009.

Begging your pardon, Philip. I've now included the Mosquito Bar, based on your url above.

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Reply by dmcker, May 27, 2009.

Saw your additions to the map, gr. Might add that the Old Imperial Bar is also good for other cocktails. They take their mixology seriously there, but I seem during my several dozen visits over the years to have usually had their margarita strait up, or a single malt neat. Did have a dirty vodka martini once or twice that was very precisely well done. Will update with other Tokyo and Asian spots (there are many bars and bartenders in this town, particularly, that are zen-like in their focus on mixological perfection) when I revisit some I have in mind. Haven't been going out as much at night lately, though that is due to change before too long.

You interested in bars in Ibiza, Goa, Bali or southern Thailand? ;-)

Oh, and your Halekulani 'House Without a Key' cite on the map is missing a reference to maitais, if you want to use the 'close to perfection' quote properly...

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Reply by gr, May 28, 2009.

Corrections made (thanks!) on the Old Imperial and Halekulani, and please feel free to continue to recommend good destinations anywhere!

Thanks also to RachelNYC for privately pointing out that I'd inadvertently dragged the Raffles Hotel out into the middle of the Indian Ocean. ;^>

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Reply by dmcker, May 29, 2009.

So what is the percentage of weighting you want for 'character' and social functionality of the bar vs. very good mixing of tasty beverages?

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2009.

gr, just heard from a friend in New York about a new tequila bar named Mayahuel. On 6th near 2nd. Don't know how often you make it to NYC, but wondered if you or anyone else had been there. Hear that not only do they have a nice range of tequilas from the bottle, but that they also are intelligently and skillfully creative with their tequila-based cocktails, both sweetish-citrusy and savory. They really must be new, since their website http://mayahuelny.com/temp.html is still under construction.

Have a special place in my heart for tequila, and many adventures over the years with mi amigo, tequilito. Was hoping to get some feedback on the place before turning on any of my other NYC resident or visitor friends to the place...

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Reply by gr, Jun 30, 2009.

dmcker, first I think both of those (and others) are worthwhile metrics, which is why we've got notes about each joint.

As for Maya Huel, I do make it to NYC frequently, so I'll keep it in mind. Some others like RachelNYC, RBoulanger, and the Snooth staff actually live there, so perhaps they'd care to check it out...

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Reply by merlinlobo, May 18, 2010.

I see you havent any cocktails bars in Bolivia - shame, shame! The "Highest Driest Martini in the World" is served at the Blue Note Wine Bar in La Paz (4700m). And it really is!

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Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2010.

As I somewhat predicted a year ago, the Ice Bar in Nishi Azabu (Tokyo) is now defunct. Just another minor milestone in that building's long history of failed businesses....  Should definitely remove it from the map.


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