America's best cocktails
Photograph: Time Out

The best and most popular cocktails in the U.S.

From selfies in martinis to drinks that taste like dinner and nostalgic shooters, these are America's best cocktails

Eric Barton

There was a time, many of us can hazily remember, when going out drinking meant finding the spot in town with the cheapest pitchers and $1 test tube shots. OK, actually that still sounds pretty fun. But there comes a day when going out drinking calls for something more sophisticated. It involves places with garnishes displayed along the bar and people who call themselves mixologists and drinks with ingredient lists as complicated as a Michelin-starred meal. While a good cocktail bar used to be tough to find across this country, they’re everywhere these days—a good manhattan is within walking distance from every hotel in the country. But America’s coolest cocktails? For that, we scoured speakeasies and divey bars from Boston to Los Gatos (for real) to New York City and produced this list of the best and most popular cocktails in the U.S.

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Best cocktails in the U.S.

1. Dole Whip at Lullaby | New York, NY

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Mad scientist bartender Harrison Snow set out to recreate the theme park desserts of his childhood and came up with a recreation that tastes and looks the part. It's served in a paper cup dripping with nostalgia, just like the creamy pineapple whipped drink within.

2. The Tomato Tree at Sip & Guzzle | New York, NY

The Tomato Tree is a lot like everything else at Sip & Guzzle: delicate, reminiscent of something else and a whole lot of mind-blowing. The ingredients—vodka, Roku gin, fruit, flower, leaf, sap, etc.—come up short of describing all that’s mysteriously within this clear cocktail.


3. Milk & Honey at Here Nor There | Austin, TX

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It takes nearly three days to make Here Nor There’s creamy milk punch. The end result is the Milk & Honey, with an ingredient list longer than this entire article, including dark rum, lemon sherbet and spices. It’s served in a dainty little tea cup, best sipped with pinkie finger extended.

4. Pan Con Tomate at Finka Table & Tap | Miami, FL

Pan con tomate, essentially bread with crushed tomato, is a classic Spanish tapa that’s on so many menus in Miami that it might as well be the city’s official dish. At Finka, it gets a liquid representation with gin, lemon juice and oregano, topped with a Cuban bread cracker slathered in tomato jam.


5. Cold Pizza at The Coop | New York, NY

New York’s The Coop serves a drink that’s a bit like a time warp to the future. Suddenly, you’re standing over your kitchen sink the following morning eating leftover pizza. This trip into the space-time continuum is made possible with parmesan-infused tequila, burnt toast, tomato, basil, honey, egg white and possibly a flux capacitor.

6. Yerkes Telescope at Meadowlark | Chicago, IL

A drink named for a telescope is admittedly a deep cut. But it’s appropriate for a drink that also gets a bit odd, albeit in a decidedly tasty way. Things start out normal enough with bourbon and lemon, but at the end there’s a spritz of a smoked botanical called Malört—funky, bitter and infamous in Chicago. Weird in all the good ways.


7. The Jello Fruit Basket at Silver Lyan | Washington, D.C.

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A bar in a former bank vault, Silver Lyan does pretty much everything at a fancier level, including reinventing the party staple from your youth. The Jello Fruit Basket comes as a platter of cocktails that have been gelatinized into fruit shapes, served with champagne chasers.

8. The Egg at Coqodaq | New York, NY

The Egg is a cocktail that’s darling to look at and as fruity and floral as a springtime garden party. It begins with vodka, St. Germain, jasmine, lychee, and club soda. Then, things get Instagram-ready with an egg-shaped chunk of ice that floats in a drink the color of an Easter bonnet.


9. Back Stage Club at Platform 18 | Phoenix, AZ

Sweet and savory, the Back Stage Club from this Phoenix speakeasy throws down some serious dinner vibes. Mint-infused gin and celery get the meal/cocktail started, and then corned-beef-spiced Jamaican rum adds main-course action. Oh, for garnish there’s jerky made from beets, so you can say you’ve eaten your vegetables today.

10. Food 4 Thought at Los Gatos Soda Works | Los Gatos, CA

It’s hard to imagine a cocktail that looks more creative than the Food 4 Thought at this down-to-experiment bar outside of San Jose. While it might look like a takeout food container, this is actually a quite drinkable cocktail, a mix of Suntory Japanese whisky, Drambuie, pickled cucumber and carrots, Genmaicha, Iichiko Shochu and honeycrisp apple.


11. Juanito at Bar Colette | Dallas, TX

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Layered cocktails always look like something special, and that's true for the Juanito. Here, cognac, tamarind, coffee, spices, whey and tonic sit in pretty layers—starting from dark caramel on the bottom to a pretty hat of foam on top.

12. Printed selfie martinis at Wicked Craft Co. | Boston, MA

For an upcharge of 10 bucks, any of the frothy martinis served at this clubby Boston spot can be adorned with a printed image of your choice. So top off your drink with a darling selfie, a birthday message to your date or the image of your most hated enemy to drink in the revenge you’re planning--OK maybe that last one goes too far.


13. Callahan at The Neighbors | Orlando, FL

In an Instagram post about this drink, The Neighbors sell it simply: “Plus the popcorn snack for free!” We’re not sure how the math works out, but we do know what you’ll end up with is a combo of corn-pop mezcal, ancestral corn whiskey, cinnamon and mole spice—with a skewer of sweet popcorn on top.

14. Just Blue from Cellar Mixology | San Antonio, TX

The 29-page menu at this speakeasy promises Just Blue will “inspire you to look up at the night sky and ruminate on its majesty.” With a cloud of smoke rising up out of a coupe the color of the sky after sunset, it certainly looks ready to inspire, helped along by blue cotton candy.


15. Handroll at Shinji’s | New York, NY

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It may look like a simple highball, but hidden within this cocktail are the flavors of a sushi handroll. That's achieved by infusing vodka in a sous vide machine with nori, wasabi peels, bonito flake, dried ginger, mirin and cocoa butter with a spray garnish of soy and rice vinegar.

16. Espresso Martini at the Kanpai Club | Houston, TX

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What starts as a fairly standard (“obligatory,” as it’s called on the menu) espresso martini gets interesting in the garnish phase when the bartender scorches a marshmallow that continues to flame atop the drink. Bartenders everywhere, please copy this.

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