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Excerpts from “The Best Bars in America, 2021,” published in Esquire, May 25 2021 // View article

This year’s Best Bars are a reflection of the desire to experience wonder once more—in being introduced to mind-expanding wines and whiskeys, downing pints in old churches, or hunkering in jazzy spaces again—and to be grateful for places that managed to remain intrinsic to the fabric of drinking culture in America. A pioneering cocktail den in Harlem, one of the oldest sake bars in America, and a quintessential Mission District dive are all part of this year’s list, our fifteenth.

Noble Riot – RiNo

“The fact that Colorado makes some pretty interesting natural wines is just one of the things you’ll learn at Noble Riot, an unlikely wine bar located down a graffiti-and-mural-adorned alley in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood. In general, whether you’re perusing one of the zine-like menus or being recommended pét-nat from Chile or pairing a big red from Palestine with a bucket of crunchy fried chicken, what you’ll discover is that wine can be wild and fun, even in the middle of craft-beer country.”

Serenata – Union Market District

“At this gently curving bar in the heart of La Cosecha, a newish Latin American marketplace, the drinks, overseen by Serenata beverage director Andra “AJ” Johnson, can have a pantry’s worth of ingredients. The results, a showcase of Latin American spirits, are cocktails that are incredibly complex and stunningly presented, yet as easy-drinking as anything you would want on a tropical getaway. The elegant French Kissed in Jalisco, a kind of tequila vesper, will have you realizing there’s a bigger universe to explore when it comes to agave.”