Best Bars & Breweries

TripSavvy Editors' Choice Awards 2018

Kings County Brewers Collective

 Kings County Brewers Collective by Claire Cohen

What makes a great bar? Was it once the drinking destination for a favorite accomplished author? Does it turn into a dance party after sundown? Maybe the best breweries are the ones whose seasonal lagers help regulars welcome the coming of cold weather, or the ones that stay true to their modest roots — even after they make it to the big time. Here are TripSavvy's favorite bars and breweries for 2018.

Breweries

The outdoor patio at Avery Brewing
 Avery Brewing

Avery Brewing: Boulder, Colo. — featured in The Best Bars in Boulder

In a state famous for its craft brew industry — and one of the nation’s biggest craft beer producers — Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder stands out. Avery has been cranking out tasty brew since 1993 and continues to push boundaries in the field. Drinkers love the award-winning White Rascal Belgian-style white ale, which has slayed the Great American Beer Festival, but Avery’s seasonals are renowned, too. In fall, try the Chai High, a brown ale mixed with local bhakti chai spices. Avery’s taphouse boasts 30 different taps that change weekly, so there’s always something new to try.

Left Field Brewery: Toronto, Canada — featured in Where to Get Craft Beer to Go in Toronto

Established in 2013, Leftfield Brewery was founded by husband and wife team Mark and Mandie Murphy. The baseball-themed brewery and tap room can be found in Toronto’s Leslieville neighborhood and offers a series of full-flavored beers each with their own distinct taste. The signature beer here is the Eephus oatmeal brown ale, with hints of toasted nuts and roasted malts, and inspired by a little-used baseball pitch of the same name. Both the tap room and bottle shop are open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and if you’ve got dogs or kids, bring them.

This is a family and pet-friendly space. In addition, brewery tours run every Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Jessica Padykula

The taps at Kings County Brewers Collective
 Claire Cohen

Kings County Brewers Collective: Brooklyn, N.Y. — featured in Brooklyn's Best Beer Gardens & Breweries

A freshman player in New York's bustling brewery scene, Kings County Brewers Collective is housed in a 5,000 square-foot warehouse in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood. It's owned and operated by three experienced brewers who started making beer in their living rooms and kitchens until Kings County opened its doors in 2016. Their taproom is open seven days a week and features a revolving list of IPAs, sours, stouts and more, offered both on tap and in to-go cans. Their space is open and airy — don't expect to get overwhelmed by Manhattan-style crowds — and perfect for a birthday party or company happy hour (it's also easily accessible via public transport).

To keep the party going, grab a 32-ounce growler to go. –Ashley Knierim

Visitors toast beers outside the SweetWater Brewing Company
 Sweetwater Brewing Company

SweetWater Brewing Company: Atlanta, Ga. — featured in The Top Brewery Tours in Atlanta

SweetWater Brewery was started in 1997 by two college buddies who dreamed of making “lip-smackin’ beers.” Now, they lead one of America’s most successful breweries. SweetWater has collected multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Their beer is served on Delta flights alongside American staples like Budweiser. They recently launched a pioneering weed-inspired brew. And in 2016 they opened a two-story, 37,000-square-foot building to experiment with barrel-aging and sour beers, a big step for Atlanta.

Their main brewery, in the heart of the city, is a social hub with live music, food trucks, charity events, even festivals. –Alyson Krueger

Bars

The storefront at St. Gambrinus
Marie Kusa / St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe 

St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe: Brooklyn, N.Y. — featured in The Best Bars Near the Barclay's Center

For some St. Gambrinus is a shop selling the best beers in the world. On any day the shelves are lined with over 200 beers from the best corporate and craft brands including Evil Twin, Jackie O’s, and Jolly Pumpkin. But it’s also a neighborhood joint, a place where Brooklyn residents come alone or solo. Pull up a chair and let the bartender enchant you with beers so interesting you never even knew that concoction was possible. The food menu of panini and warm pretzels is thoughtfully curated to complement beer excellently.

The shop regularly invites brew masters and cicerones (beer sommeliers) to hold special events. –Alyson Krueger

The view from the roof at Rooftop Reds
Thomas Shomaker/Rooftop Reds 

Rooftop Reds: Brooklyn, N.Y. — featured in Brooklyn's Best Wine Bars

Rooftop Reds, located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is a rooftop vineyard and wine bar. Lounge on a hammock or play a game of corn hole as you sip a red at this laid back drinking destination. The Instagram-worthy rooftop offers some of the best views of NYC, complemented by 168 grape vines in their second season of harvest. Just to note, you must register your visit on their website before you head there, so you can pass through the Navy Yard’s security. They have snacks on hand, but you can bring or order food from local restaurants.

Don’t miss the many events including a popular movie night, tours and tastings. Alison Lowenstein

The dining room at Bramble and Hare
 Bramble and Hare

Bramble and Hare: Boulder, Colo. — featured in The Best Bars in Boulder

Bramble and Hare, in downtown Boulder, is known for its fresh ingredients and unique menu, and that goes for cocktails, too. Bramble uses ingredients harvested from its own local farm. It has a rustic, intimate vibe, the kind of place you might not know unless you’re in the know. And after dinner, Bramble and Hare comes alive. The menu changes based on what’s in harvest and is printed new daily. Look for creative spins on classics, like drinks centered around asparagus or peppers. One thing’s certain: Every drink, handcrafted before your eyes in the open kitchen, is tasty and memorable.

–Aimee Heckel

The interior of Dukes Bar at the Dukes Hotel London
Dukes Hotel

Dukes Bar: London, England — featured in The Hippest Hotel Bars in London

For classic cocktails in a glamorous setting, Dukes Bar is hard to beat. Tucked down a cobblestone street in Mayfair, this hotel bar has a gentleman's club vibe with plush armchairs and oil paintings. It's famous for its martinis; the bar was loved by James Bond author Ian Fleming and the gin and vermouth cocktails are said to have inspired the writer to come up with the iconic "shaken not stirred" line. Cocktails are mixed at the table on a traditional drinks trolley. They're as pricey as they are potent, but all drinks are served with delicious bar snacks.

The Interval: San Francisco, Calif. — featured in The Top San Francisco Wine Bars

There's no better place to ponder and discuss the future of our universe than San Francisco's Interval, a combination café, bar, museum, and all-out gathering space that's part of the Long Now Foundation, a non-profit devoted to stimulating long-term thinking. Along with its evolving behind-the-bar artwork and thousands of readable books on display, the steampunk-style space offers up a time-inspired menu of artisan libations — each with its own place in time and story to tell. Choose from a selection of innovative Old Fashioned cocktails, Fern Bar beverages, and globally-inspired drink specialities like their housemade umeshu, crafted from shochu infused with Japanese ume plums.

–Laura Kiniry

Half Acre Beer Co.: Chicago, Ill. — featured in The Best Craft Beer Bars in Chicago

Paving the way for the explosive craft beer scene in Chicago, Half Acre Beer Company exemplifies the Second City’s affable approach to brewing (and drinking) beer. Both its tap rooms — the cozy original in Lincoln Square and the newer, flashier setup on Balmoral — offer chef-driven bites and weekend tours in addition to their range of draft brews. Definitely order a pint of Daisy Cutter (one of the best pale ales in the midwest), but also venture into their selection of fermented “wyld” beers too.

Pro tip: grab a table early on a Sunday up at Balmoral for brunch — they offer a unique breakfast menu and plenty of beers that are light enough for an a.m. beverage (or three). –Megan Graney

Phoenecia: Seattle, Wash. — featured in Seattle's Top Wine Bars

Situated near Alki Beach in West Seattle, Phoenecia offers a solid menu of tapas, salads, pizza and desserts alongside a wine list to round it all out. Menu items are on the smaller side, designed to be eaten tapas-style where you order a few plates rather than one large entrée. While the restaurant isn’t large, it packs in some awesome views of the water and mountains. On sunny days, you just might run into some crowds here because there are few things that go better with a woodfired pizza and a glass of cabernet sauvignon than some sailboats riding a gentle breeze against some primo Northwest scenery.

The Horseshoe Bar at the Shelboure
The Shelbourne

Horseshoe Bar at The Shelbourne: Dublin, Ireland — featured in The Most Romantic Things to Do in Dublin

The Shelbourne Hotel has been a fixture on the Dublin scene since 1824 and inside its hallowed Georgian walls, the Horseshoe Bar has long been the main gathering point for celebrities, writers, and politicians. Named for the unique shape of its bar counter which dominates the cozy space, this traditional watering hole has maintained all of its moody lighting and red décor even while the hotel underwent refurbishment earlier this year. Order a Black Velvet (which some claim was invented right here) and settle into a maroon barstool beneath historic photos of fun but drunken shenanigans.

Gilt Bar: Chicago, Ill. — featured in Chicago's Best Cocktail Bars

In Chicago’s River North on Kinzie Street sits a swanky and sensual, dimly-lit, contemporary American restaurant and bar, with antiques and books lining the walls and a large chandelier overhead: Gilt Bar. Cocktails are the stars here and you’ll find new twists to old classics—like lemon and honey in the Bee’s Knees and the allspice in the Lion’s Tail. Gilt Bar has been awarded a Bib Gourmand, a distinction for brilliant places that offer quality food at a reasonable price. –Wendy Altschuler