Enjoying an artisanal cocktail in a sumptuous location is as much about the surrounding atmosphere as it is the drink in hand. Glamorous bars around the world—rich in history, personality and mixological talent—deliver. And as cocktail revivalism continues full bore, they are the places to be.
“A bar is a stage where you can constantly reinvent yourself,” says Jacob Briars, global spokesman for Bacardi. “So much thought has gone into the lighting, to make sure you’re going to look as good as possible, or the seating, so it’s just close enough, or the drama of the entrance.”
Trained as a bartender in his native Wellington, New Zealand, Briars has spent almost two decades globe-trotting as an ambassador for premium liquor brands. He compares drinking at a top-tier cocktail joint to an evening at the opera. “In utilitarian terms, you can go to a liquor store and buy a bottle of wine just like you can put on a DVD,” he explains. “But why do you go to a show? It’s a performance. At a bar, unlike the opera, you’re a player in the show.”
The establishments on our list don’t disappoint. Some are located in hotels in neighborhoods like London’s Mayfair, the Worli district in Mumbai and the Shanghai waterfront. Others sit hidden in plain sight, channeling Prohibition-era speakeasies from a shoddy side street in San Francisco, a skyscraper in Tokyo or New York’s Grand Central Terminal. But what they all have in common is an unabashedly glamorous aura, which allows you to sit back and celebrate the simple beauty of a perfectly made cocktail.