The posh, tin-ceilinged speakeasy will always hold a special place in the hearts of drink aficionados. But it’s time for the pretense-free casual bar, where cocktails and beer are relished in equal measure, to take over the spotlight. Here are five newish laid-back lairs in which to tie one on.
Tiki guru Paul McGee’s Logan Square hot spot, Lost Lake, is a chill, tropical reprieve where drinks can be sipped out of conch shells. Mongolian beef takeout, delivered straight to the table, makes it even easier to settle in with a vintage Don the Beachcomber mystery gardenia cocktail.
The Normandie Club
On-the-rise Koreatown is now home to the Normandie Club, a collaboration between cocktail hit-makers 213 Hospitality and Proprietors LLC. Inventive riffs on the classics are this bar’s stock-in-trade, so expect a tequila collins with pear brandy and an old fashioned with coconut bourbon.
The Nightingale Room
A barrage of vinyl sets a low-key tone at the Nightingale Room, the downtown den from Mike Criss and Bobby Heugel. Dancing erupts here on the regular, fueled by old fashioneds that flaunt cognac and clever shots like the Mexican razor blade, made with tequila, lemon and cayenne.
The cocktail list at ABV, the Mission lair from a trifecta of all-star bartenders (Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud, Ryan Fitzgerald, Todd Smith), is arranged by spirit. One fitting, goes-down-easy summer quaff: the sutro swizzle, a mélange of Armagnac, lemon juice, grapefruit shrub, maraschino and Angostura bitters on crushed ice.
The Happiest Hour
At the vintage-resort-inspired Happiest Hour in the West Village, there’s so much freedom, guests decide which spirit they’d like their drinks to showcase. Head bartender Jim Kearns’s link ray cocktail, with bitter Suze and lime and celery juices, goes especially well with jalapeño tequila.