These Are The 14 Best New American Bars To Visit In 2023

Drinking and the establishments in which it takes place have played an integral role in the United States throughout the country's history. From early American saloons to Prohibition-era speakeasies, these spaces have long provided patrons with a place to enjoy a drink. What's been served at these establishments has changed throughout the decades — to this day, bars continue to provide a setting for people to relax, connect with others, and enjoy life.

This tradition remains as popular as ever. The total number of bars and nightclubs in the United States neared 70,000 when measured in 2023, and this number is likely to continue to grow. Some states, like New York and California, are amongst the most bar-filled places in the U.S. While the high density of bars gives patrons numerous options, such a saturated market makes opening new bars a challenging experience for any proprietor. Yet, with so many popular bars in America continuously opening, it seems every city always has space for another brilliant bar.

1. Nubeluz, New York City

Nubeluz, a cocktail bar sitting on the 50th floor of the Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad hotel, opened September 24, 2022. As with the entirety of the hotel's gastronomic endeavors, Nubeluz was launched in partnership with José Andrés, the acclaimed Spanish chef. Andrés' quality, which has garnered him two Michelin stars in the past, is evident at Nubeluz, where decadent light bites such as labneh cones topped with caviar are served.

Luxurious as the food is, Nubeluz's two main attractions are the drinks and the view. The former is defined by cocktails, and the menu is split into classics and signatures. The Salt Air Margarita is particularly popular, which combines Milagro blanco tequila, Combier L'Original Liqueur D'Orange, Iime, and salt air. The choice of tequila ensures this margarita is well-suited to most palates — Milagro unaged tequila is distilled three times, dampening the punchy vegetal notes present in other versions of the spirit.

The other facet of Nubeluz's attraction is the setting. The bar is sleek, and the room is encased in glass, giving customers panoramic views of New York City. This alone warrants a visit, but when combined with the aforementioned food and drinks, the view transforms Nubeluz into the ultimate occasion destination. You will struggle to find a bar more suited to celebrations than this one, even in New York City.

2. Nine Bar, Chicago

On June 1, 2022, Nine Bar opened its doors, becoming the first cocktail bar in Chicago's Chinatown. The bar's location and connection to Asia are evident through its menu. On the drinks side, you will find Paper Dragon, a tequila cocktail that is laced with Sichuan peppercorns and Shapeshifter, a highball that is made with Ming River Sichuan Baijiu, St Agrestis Paradiso Aperitivo, rooibos, and other tasty ingredients. 

Many further cocktail ingredients are either made in-house or bought locally. "We do the orgeat with almond cookies," said co-owner of Nine Bar Joe Briglio in an article in the Chicago Tribune. "We make a syrup out of the almond cookies, as the almond sweetener component. And in lieu of a traditional orange liqueur, we're using the Apologue persimmon liqueur, which is made here in Chicago."

The food sounds equally appetizing. Many people who live in Chicago will have heard of co-owner Lily Wang's McKatsu sandwich, a delightful fried pork sandwich packed with pickled radishes and Chinese hot mustard. Thankfully, this iconic meal has become an established part of Nine Bar's menu. Other options are equally flavorsome, including cold sesame noodles and mapo hot fries. In other words, the food can easily go toe-to-toe with the bar's punchy drinks.

3. Mili Wine Bar, San Francisco

Mili Wine Bar represents owner Shubhra Sarkar's first foray into the hospitality sector, not that you'd know it upon entering the stylish space. Located in San Francisco's Downtown, Mili Wine Bar opened February 1, 2023, to great acclaim. As with any good wine bar, the majority of the wine bar's appeal lies in its wine list, which boasts bottles from many of the world's most established wine regions. Standing above the lot is a cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley that comes in at about $90 a glass. The most prominent in terms of white comes via Burgundy in the form of Meursault. Thankfully, there are numerous affordable options, including Txomin Etxaniz's Getariako Txakolina, a fresh, citric white hailing from the Basque Country and selling at Mili Wine Bar for around $12 per glass.

This wine bar does not have a fully functional kitchen. As such, the food menu is skewed towards simple small plates, including the ubiquitous burrata and a selection of feuilletés. For those in search of extreme luxury, two types of caviar are also sold. These are served with blinis. With such a luxurious food and drinks menu, it is no surprise that Mili Wine Bar seems to be settling nicely into San Francisco's prestigious wine bar scene. We just hope hospitality is everything Sarkar dreamed it would be.

4. Lobby Bar at Hotel Chelsea, New York City

Hotel Chelsea is an iconic part of New York City, having been home to an impressive slew of artists since its construction in the 1880s. The property underwent a major refurbishment in the 21st century, reopening in spring 2022, 11 years after its closure. Hotel Chelsea then opened its Lobby Bar opened in the summer of the same year.

To the relief of all New Yorkers, the Lobby Bar remains in touch with the hotel's classic feel. This was a conscious decision made by management, as co-owner Sean MacPherson explained in an article on Women's Wear Daily. "The Chelsea's always felt to me like a grande dame," MacPherson said. "And it felt like the appropriate thing was to create the grande dame of lobby bars. And so we tried to honor the existing architecture and design, and build something that felt old world and classic."

Content matches appearances at the Lobby Bar, with classic cocktails forming the backbone of the menu. While martinis might be the usual fare, there are also other, more innovative options available, including Edie '67, a mezcal-based drink that also features gochujang honey. As one of the foremost examples, the Lobby Bar should be frequented by all who harbor a love for New York City, both past and present. 

5. Jane's Hideaway, Nashville

Nashville is home to many musically inclined bars and restaurants — it isn't known as Music City for nothing. Yet, there wasn't a local around who didn't rue the closing of Jane's Hideaway, a bluegrass restaurant and bar, in May 2022. Thankfully, Jane's Hideaway found a second lease on life on the East Side in Nashville. The establishment has been providing top-quality food, drinks, and music events ever since.

The food menu is long and enticing for both brunch and supper. Think chicken and waffles, catfish plates, and okra fries. However, it is the cocktails where Jane's Hideaway really shines. These include adaptations of classics like Jane's Old Fashioned, Tullahoma Swizzle, Espresso Martini, and more.

When brilliant live music is added to the mix, Jane's Hideaway becomes a prime example of what Nashville offers, as highlighted by one happy visitor on Tripadvisor: "This was the first place we dropped into when we arrived in Nashville. The service was terrific and very friendly. The food was excellent. Prices were good. The music was...outstanding."

6. The Branca Room, Dallas

The Branca Room opened in the summer of 2022 in the back of well known Argentinian restaurant Chimichurri. While hard to find — it involves a march through the back alley of the Bishop Arts District – the drinks sold at the Branca Room make the journey more than worth it. The most attention-grabbing is the cocktails — 12 of them that range from Seven Society, a Bacardi, amaro, orange bitters, blueberry and sage blend, to the dark and spicy Templi Orientis, which is made from Woodford Reserve, two different bitters, and amaro. Aside from cocktails, the Branca Room also prioritizes whisky and even hosts a monthly bourbon night.

A great deal of care is put into the presentation of all drinks. For example, the Amaro Transfusion comes in an IV bag. Other cocktails are served in specialist glassware, a feature that has endeared it to guests. A reviewer backed this up on Yelp, saying, "They have some really unique cocktails that I have never had before and they come in specialty glasses — one cocktail came in a glass shaped like a fish with a flashing light inside of it which made it change colors. Another cocktail came out in glass shaped as a long stem rose, so very unique."

7. Bar Americano, New York City

Bar Americano opened its doors for the first time in November 2022. The bar spotlights vermouth and not just by serving it straight. Different types of fortified wine are also featured throughout the cocktail menu, most notably in the two house cocktails: Americano Classico and Americano Bianco, which are served on tap. Bar Americano's wine list is made up of sparkling wines, whites, rosés, and reds from across Europe.

In terms of food, Bar Americano again adopts European tendencies. The majority of plates are small, including manzanilla olives, Cantabrian anchovies, and charcuterie. A few large bites are also on offer, with the whole artichoke, served with miso cream and brown butter, sounding particularly enticing.

Adopting a Eurocentric approach in both food and drink menus was key to the Bar Americano concept, as co-owner Steve Kämmerer highlights in an article on Greenpointers: "We always pictured Bar Americano as an old postcard from your last summer holidays in Europe, and we are trying to translate that through our drinks and food in a space that could take anyone back in time." As far as staycations go, a trip to Bar Americano is right up there with the best.

8. Dark Room, Seattle

Dark Room opened at the beginning of 2023 in the space formerly occupied by Teacher's Lounge. For those unfamiliar with Teacher's Lounge, this move was intriguing, to say the least — the bar was beloved by many for over a decade. Having big shoes to fill, the team at Dark Room went about executing the task with glee, devising a swooping drinks menu. 

Take, for example, the Kimcheech and Chong, a cocktail that includes both mezcal and kimchi. Strange as it might sound, the drink has been a huge hit, with critics citing a miraculous balancing of different flavors. Other cocktails include Shame on a Negroni, a different take on the immensely popular classic, again proving that Dark Room doesn't play by the rules. Using lesser-known products also lends a novelty to the drinks without turning them into something gimmicky or kitschy. This is typified by the Figgy Swizzit, which uses two spirits, tsipouro and centerba. 

The cocktail was a challenging proposition, as co-owner Matthew Gomez explained in an article on The Stranger: "We actually started out making this cocktail with grappa and green chartreuse instead of tsipouro and [centerba]. But I first had centerba... I wanna say five years ago. My friend was working at Rum Club in Portland, and he had me try it, and I just fell in love." Dark Room also became the first "in Washington to have centerba."

9. Miami Sound Bar, Miami

Long a Japanese phenomenon, sound bars — also known as listening bars and audiophile bars — have sprung up across the United States in recent years. In these establishments, patrons listen to music played through a high-quality sound system in an audio-centric space that facilitates easy and attentive listening. Usually, these bars are completed with sleek interior designs and high-quality beverages.

Miami Sound Bar is quintessential in that it boasts all of the above features, including a custom sound system from Tannoy Westminster. The cocktail menu is short but jam-packed full of reimagined classics, including a Platinum Negroni. Other offerings include Fania Mexicana, a mezcal and Calvados high ball.

The combination of brilliant music and high-quality cocktails makes Miami Sound Bar one of the hottest places in town for those with musical inclinations, as highlighted by one visitor on Yelp: "This is the perfect spot for audiophiles and cocktail aficionados. If you love excellent music, delicious cocktails and a hipster chic vibe then this is your jam." Fortunately, the bar takes reservations, meaning you can guarantee yourself an evening of blissful enjoyment.

10. Marisi, San Diego

Opening in La Jolla on August 31, 2022, Marisi has quickly built a reputation as a beautifully designed restaurant that serves refined Italian food. While many frequent Marisi for the food, the chic bar is just as suited for those seeking a drink and a few appetizers.

Those who do choose to visit Marisi for a drink will have the vice president of drinks, Beau du Bois, to thank for a delightful experience. He has overseen the creation of a classic drinks menu featuring wine, vermouth, and a range of cocktails for Marisi. While many of these are excellent, those wishing to experience the full extent of his mastery should try his homemade limoncello.

Drinks are held in high esteem by the whole staff; the kitchen even goes to the trouble of making its own brine for use in dirty martinis. While specialist cocktail bars often show this attention to detail, it is rarely found in establishments that are also juggling food service. Herein lies Marisi's allure — top tier beverages served alongside world-class food. Where else can you sip on homemade limoncello while enjoying the likes of fried zucchini flowers, wagyu carpaccio, and brilliantly fluffy focaccia?

11. Trouble Bird, Washington D.C.

All too often, bars in metropolitan centers take themselves too seriously, opting for an austere and reserved atmosphere as opposed to one that is boisterous and fun. Fortunately for D.C. locals, Trouble Bird is a new cocktail bar that definitely falls into the latter category. Opened on February 28, 2023, Trouble Bird is the brainchild of three Washington D.C. hospitality veterans: Brent Kroll, Andrew Hurn, and Justin Cara-Donna. 

Of that relaxed atmosphere Cara-Donna said in an Eater Washington DC article: "Everything is unique to this space; everything has those high elevated touches but without being overly complex. Everything feels familiar; everything feels comforting." Disco balls and fun wallpaper aside, Trouble Bird also offers excitement via its range of food and drinks. 

The former is composed of delicious snacks that seem startlingly well-designed for mopping up alcohol, especially the carbonara panini. Trouble Bird offers wine by the glass and half bottles as well as 12 different cocktails. Beers are also served often in conjunction with innovative shots like Cinnamon Mezcal "Glitterschlager".

12. Milady's, New York City

Taking on a local's spot can be a daunting task, especially when that spot is beloved by all. This hasn't stopped Julie Reiner from taking over as the new owner at Milady's, one of SoHo's most famous dive bars. Reiner was pragmatic in taking over the bar — times had changed, which meant the bar had to as well. She explained to The New York Times: "There was nothing to save. This is a 2.0. So how do we pay homage to what this place was, in 2022 with 2022 SoHo rent?"

The answer to this question is not a straightforward one. To make Milady's a viable project once hallowed items have been discarded, like a pool table to make space for more seating. Invariably, drinks prices have gone up too. Most cocktails are now priced between $15 to $20. Yet, the quality of these drinks, including a range of delightful sounding highballs, Jell-O shots, and martinis – as well as the exquisite space, more than justify the hike in prices.

Of course, there will always be those that disavow new iterations of bars. Yet, to suggest Reiner has done anything but make improvements where necessary would be unfair. Yes, the new Milady's is different from the original, but that is not a bad thing.

13. Tiny's Hi-Dive, Los Angeles

Tiny's Hi-Dive in Los Angeles is a great example of a bar you can visit any day of the week. Opening on November 10, 2022, Tiny's Hi-Dive is a 1960s Chicago-inspired, serving great food and drinks at affordable prices. All house cocktails, including classics like gin gimlets and Moscow mules, cost about $10. And it's not like the bar is cutting corners either, bartenders whip up some delicious cocktails using fine liquors and ingredients like mezcal, scotch, blue-cheese stuffed olives, and oat milk, to name a few. 

An emphatic beer menu — draught, bottle, and can — complements the game-laden space well. It's not hard to imagine sauntering into this bar on a Friday after work to blow off some steam with a few rounds of pool. The bar also serves classic food options, including hot Italian beef sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, and a range of hot dogs. To top it all off, the vibe is extremely friendly and relaxed.

One reviewer on Yelp highlighted that "the owners Kelly and John are seriously two of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Staff is amazing. Food is amazing. Drinks are delish. Their frozen Irish coffee is the ish. Try it. Drink it. Have 2. It's worth it. I tried many things on their food menu, never disappoints."

14. Sousòl, Portland

Gregory Gourdet, twice finalist of "Top Chef", had a great response after opening his Haitian-inspired restaurant, Kann, in August 2022. He received a similar reaction when he unveiled Sousòl, a bar inspired by Caribbean cultures past and present, only a few months later. 

Located in the basement below Kann, Sousòl is a bar that demonstrates its Caribbean influence via cocktail ingredients which include the likes of rum, demerara sugar, and even Haitian black mushrooms. Perhaps the standout offering is the complex-sounding Coco and Co, the ingredients of which are coconut-infused cognac, Italian vermouth, cold brew coffee, oloroso sherry, and mole bitters. 

Sousòl also boasts an impressive array of zero-proof cocktails. Having exciting non-alcoholic options was a really important aspect of the bar for Gourdet, as he highlighted to Oregon Live: "Just as my food is very inclusive of specialty diets, I want my bar to be inclusive of drinkers and non-drinkers alike." Gourdet can rest assured that Sousòl is definitely that.