Once a watering hole of last resort filled with business travelers and tourists, the hotel bar is back with a vengeance.
All the major hospitality groups are filling their portfolios with new projects inside buzzy and beloved hotels. Hoteliers, too, are answering the bar-hopping public’s call: multiple cocktail concepts within a single hotel are becoming the standard at big city hotels, especially those that stand on historic grounds.
To create the ultimate American hotel bar bucket list, we’ve dropped 10 Iconic Hotel Bars that stand out as icons among their peers. From the birthplace of the Mint Julep to a menacing bar housed in an old jail, the drinks always taste better here.
Alibi Bar & Lounge at the Liberty Hotel (Boston, MA)
Up until 1990, the Beacon Hill building now known as a the Liberty Hotel was a jail for some of Boston’s most infamous criminals. The Alibi Bar & Lounge, with its brick cell walls and gated doors and windows, is located in the shadowy space that was once the jail’s drunk tank.
Cocktails echo the bar’s criminal past with names like Jailbait (a blueberry mojito) and Vice Squad (coconut rum, pineapple, yogurt liqueur, and a “strawberry float”). There’s also bottle service, a nice wine list, and a full menu with pizza, pasta, sliders, and snacks like arancini and duck fat fries with truffle aioli.
215 Charles St., Boston, MA, 857-241-1144
Bar Marmont at the Chateau Marmont (Hollywood, CA)
Retreat to Chateau Marmont Hotel and Bungalows for your happily ever after. Modeled after a French royal residence in Loire Valley, this castle is home to the luxurious Bar Marmont.
The cocktail menu is built from vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila, and gin for an extensive list of unique creations. For those with deep pockets, explore the menu’s Rare Breeds section with prices ranging from $80 to $200. Enjoy European-inspired dishes from executive chef Carolynn Spence, former chef de cuisine at New York’s award-winning Spotted Pig.
8171 West Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA, 323-650-0575
Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel (New York, NY)
With nightly jazz and speciality cocktails, Bemelmans Bar inside The Carlyle Hotel is a whimsical escape from the chaotic city.
Twenty-four-karat gold leaf ceilings combined with chocolatey leather and black glass tabletops create a warm and elegant atmosphere. Named after Ludwig Bemelmans, the man behind the children’s book “Madeline,” the bar’s walls are adorned with Bemelmans’ murals depicting scenes in Central Park.
35 East 76th St., New York, NY, 212-744-1600
The Berkshire Room at the Acme Hotel (Chicago, IL)
This craft cocktail bar opened last summer in the Acme Hotel off Michigan Avenue. The bar takes the new hotel’s former name, The Berkshire, circa the 1920s to the 1950s.
The space is airy, with gleaming checkered tiles, high ceilings, and small nooks crammed with antique bottles and cocktail ephemera. To drink, there are five barrel aged cocktails (including a classic Negroni and Manhattan), seven house concoctions, and the alluring “dealer’s choice” option, in which patrons choose their own spirit, flavor profile, and glassware. There’s also a nice selection of wine, beer, and small bites, such as fried chicken skins with smoked bleu cheese and house hot sauce.
15 East Ohio St., Chicago, IL, 312-894-0945
Biltmore Bar at The Biltmore Miami-Coral Gables (Coral Gables, FL)
Built in 1926, The Biltmore Miami-Coral Gables is steeped in history. In its heyday, it was a respite for Hollywood icons like Ginger Rogers and Judy Garland, as well as gangster Al Capone.
Today, as Miami is morphing into a sort of Manhattan of the South, it’s a bastion of old-school elegance. The marble-laden bar, with its club chairs and ample chandeliers, is like a postcard from another era. Keep it simple and order a mojito or martini made to perfection.
1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables, FL, 855-311-6903
The Clocktower at New York EDITION (New York, NY)
Located inside Ian Schrager’s newest hotel, The Clocktower restaurant and bar is new to the scene — but nonetheless historic. The hotel sits on the former site of the Met Life Tower, which held the distinction of being the world’s tallest building from 1909 to 1913.
While EDITION boasts an extremely fashionable Lobby Bar, we prefer the stately watering holes off The Clocktower restaurant. The lighting is low and sexy, the walls are covered with photos of iconic New Yorkers, and the cocktails are a ton of fun.
If you don’t mind drinking out of a milk carton, try the Cereal Killer, made with Cheerios milk and bourbon. Or, if you’re a caffeine junkie, the coffee-infused Cold-Fashioned will change your life.
5 Madison Ave., New York, NY, 212-413-4300
B&O American Brasserie at Hotel Monaco (Baltimore, MD)
Decked in marble, crystal chandeliers, and Tiffany stained glass, Baltimore’s stunning Hotel Monaco houses B&O Brasserie. The restaurant and bar takes root in the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad headquarters.
The location’s rich history is preserved with furnishings from original B&O train cars, as well as updates on classic cocktails, like The Cadizian (pictured), head bartender Brendan Door’s take on a Manhattan.
2 North Charles St., Baltimore, MD, 443-692-6172
Broken Shaker at The Freehand Miami (Miami, FL)
What began as a pop-up bar in an upscale hostel has evolved into a James Beard-acknowledged Miami institution that ranks number 22 on The World’s 50 Best Bars list.
One part hipster beach shack, one part bohemian garden, The Broken Shaker builds its cocktails with herbs and vegetables grown on-site. The short but intensely creative menu ranges from a peach-infused Old Fashioned to a Caipirinha made with basil and sweet black beans. The beer selection has a local lean and, if you’re feeling peckish, you can munch on shawarma chicken wings and house-made beef jerky.
2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach, FL, 305-531-2727
The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone (New Orleans, LA)
The iconic Carousel Bar is New Orleans’ revolving spectacle. The 25-seat Merry-Go-Round is located in Hotel Monteleone, a historic and supposedly haunted hotel in the French Quarter.
A long list of craft cocktails goes hand-in-hand with Louisiana small bites like blue crab and crawfish beignets. With live local music and a perch that overlooks Royal Street, the sights and sounds are almost as good as the food and drink.
214 Royal St., New Orleans, LA, 866-338-4684
The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan (Las Vegas, NV)
With the legendary Rat Pack haunts at the Flamingo and Riviera gone, the new old-school elegant spot to grab a drink in Vegas is the tri-level Chandelier bar, where you don’t sit under a chandelier, you sit in one.
Don’t let its perch at the center of the casino in The Cosmopolitan fool you, this is a local favorite. Grab a 12-year aged rum riff on the classic Old Fashioned before skipping off to the neighboring Marquee nightclub.
3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV, 702-698-7000