Ask a Bartender: What Bar Would You Take A Visitor To?

Juan Carlos of Copita Tequileria y Comida in Sausalito, CA.

You've got a friend in town, ready for a night on the town, and you're the tour guide. Where do you take them? We asked 30 bartenders about where they'd take visitors in their own cities. Here are their picks, in 9 cities across the country.


"Depends on the visitor. For the cocktail and spirits enthusiasts in my life, and the adventurers, Sable. For those who refuse such things, Cunneen's is my wonderful neighborhood bar." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)

"I really love Maria's on the South Side. You can find it in the Bridgeport neighborhood. What I love about Maria's is that it is a liquor store/bar hybrid, so you can try virtually anything without committing to buying a bottle or 12 pack. I don't recall the exact numbers on how many beers, whiskeys, scotch, etc...but it is a ton. You will be sure to find something you will love. Also, they have one of the best cocktail menus in the city. A few twists on classics and quite a few interesting and delicious in-house libations you won't find anywhere else." — Roger Bailey (Filini Bar and Restaurant)

"I took a couple of friends from DC recently to Billy Sunday. The bottled fernet and colas alone are worth the trip." — Dan Andruss (312 Chicago)

"Rose's, on Milwaukee. A surreal, bizarre time capsule of a bar." —Mike Ryan (Sable)

"I couldn't take an out of town visitor to just one bar in a city filled with so many great bars. We would have to go to three; Violet Hour, Scofflaw, and the Berkshire Room. All are very different but great in their own ways." — Griffin Elliott (Sepia)

New York

"The Iron Horse—It's a dive bar in the best sense of the term. $4 gets you a pony of Bud and a shot of Jameson. Enough said." — Kat Dunn (Fish & Game)

"I love historic watering holes; usually the oldest bar in the city is where I like to take visitors. Montero in Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue is one of my favorites." — Darren Crawford (Krescendo, Bourbon & Branch)

"I am particularly fond of Amor y Amargo in the East Village, a tiny little nook of cocktail paradise that can't accommodate more than 15 people, tops. You know you've found a place that takes its craft seriously when it has a tap tower dedicated to vermouth." — James Tai (pinch)

"Bar Great Harry. They have an amazing rotating beer selection & a great happy hour. There is a subtle charm about this place that makes me feel like I'm drinking in a friend's basement." — Peter Abbruscato (Pork Slope)

"I like to show my out of town guests a wide range of great bars in New York City, so it's tough when there are so many great options. So I have to hand it to my friends (and many who I consider family) at Employees Only. The energy in that bar, spot on cocktails, hospitality, quality of service and fun experience is enough to always impress my out of towners. Love that place and love those guys." — Pamela Wiznitzer (Dead Rabbit)

"Coyote Ugly, I really feel bad for all the girls there. That bar could be so rad, but it's kinda like where all the strippers go to die. So as a patronage of respect to dying strippers I would take all my outta town friends there. " — Justin Fairweather (Evelyn Drinkery)

"Mother's Ruin—I take both industry and non-industry people there." — Kevin Peters (Bathtub Gin)

San Francisco & Bay Area

Owl Tree in San Francisco
Kevin Diedrich of Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen in San Francisco.

"I love taking my friends to Rye. It's got a great selection of booze, great bartenders and a nice neighborhood feel." —Kevin Diedrich (Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen)

"I would definitely take out-of-town visitors to Terrapin Cross Roads." — Juan Carlos (Copita Tequileria y Comida)

"Depends what they were really into but I would either say Rye or Jasper's Corner Tap." — Brian Means (Fifth Floor)

"The Walnut Creek Yacht Club." — Luiz "Papa" DaHora (The Park Bistro & Bar)

San Diego


"Some people want a great view, some want a great cocktail, and the only place in San Diego that has both of those on lock is Cusp in La Jolla. Say hello to Nate Howell when you're there!" — Lauren Lathrop Williams (Jsix Restaurant)

"I love the Lion's Share in Downtown San Diego. Those guys do awesome work and it is really close to the Pacific." — Nate Howell (Cusp Dining & Drinks)

"Cantina Mayahuel in North Park, San Diego. They've got more than 200 bottles of tequila and great Mexican food." — Jen Queen (Saltbox Dining & Drinking)


"Rocco's on 2nd. Great pizza, good drinks, and a wonderful shrub and barrel-aged program. Plus, Leroy, Maxwell, and Jesus are pretty awesome people." — Elizabeth Powell (Liberty Bar)


"The Regent Cocktail Club at the Gale Hotel. What class! The make every drink as if they were going to drink it themselves." — Armand Rodriguez (Juvia)



"Adair's Saloon, an old honky tonk bar in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas. This place is well suited for drinking beer and whiskey and having one of Dallas's best burgers. Also, The Balcony Club, in historic Lakewood district—it's mystical and private." — Matthew Perry (Belly & Trumpet)

"Belly and Trumpet has a "chef" behind the bar named Matthew Perry. The drinks take hours to prep each day. Not to mention the ambiance is fun, friendly and really laid back. Also, Standard Pour has an unbelievable selection to choose from. The bartenders can all make insane cocktails, but will really appreciate you when you simply order a great bourbon neat." — Adam Karpf (Oak)

"The Old Monk for a great pub vibe and Smyth for a speak-easy feel." — Marci Wenrich (Pakpao)


"The unpretentious Rolf & Daughters." — Greg Sorrell (The Patterson House)

Washington DC

"With no hesitation, my favorite bar in the DC area is Bourbon Steak. I would take a visitor there to see some of my best bartender friends in action while enjoying a great atmosphere and great cocktails." — Dean Feddaoui (Jackson 20)

"American Ice Company. They've got good beer, tasty BBQ, loud music, and they can mix a good cocktail too!" — Jason Wiles (Poste Moderne Brasserie)

"Invariably I end up at Bar Pilar with anyone. It's my other home." — Jonathan Harris (Firefly)


"My favorite bar to bring visitors is Kraftwork. They do it all right. Rotating beer list, creative cocktails and great food." — Brian Kane (Zahav)

And You?

What's the bar you show off to out-of-towners in your city?