Bartenders Tell Us Their Favorite Nightcap Drinks

best nightcap drinks

You might not realize it when you step into your favorite watering hole that bartenders work very strange hours. You might think that having to be in your office cubicle, typing away by 8 am is rough. But bartenders work from the early evening until 2, 3, 4am or later, depending on where the bar is located. That means that during those hours they’ve served many pleasant customers, dealt with some annoying patrons, and held their tongues when they were disrespected or harassed around last call.

By the time their shift is over, they are likely very tired and in need of a pick me up (or a “chill me out”). That’s why many bartenders prefer to end their evening with a nightcap to settle their nerves, relax, and compose themselves before they head home to finally get some sleep. But what do they drink after the floors have been swept? We asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their favorite nightcaps. Their answers ranged from amaros to tequila to vodka. Check them out below and use their advice as a chance to up your own after-hour drink game.

Amaro Montenegro

Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City

“I still drink Montenegro as my closer. I like a little mystery for the end of the night, doesn’t matter if I am sitting at a cocktail bar or floating on an inflatable bull at a backyard Labor Day party. Pour me some Montenegro when it’s that time.

Hakushu 18

Anton Ulaj, bartender at ETARU Hallandale Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

“I really don’t have one as it all depends what kind of end-of-night is! It can be tequila, or a end-of-night beer. But after a nice meal I like to enjoy a decent scotch or Japanese whiskey. Hakushu 18 years old is my favorite by far, it’s wonderful, complex, yet very elegant flavors linger on for hours.”

Amaro CioCiaro

Nick Bustillos, bartender at Cochineal in Marfa, Texas

“If you want, you could throw in a digestif such as a CioCiaro or another classic Italian liqueur. You can throw in an ounce of the digestif and an ounce of tequila, mezcal or Sotol; it cuts the bitterness and herbal taste of the liqueur, but you still get the strength and all of the flavors from the Sotol and agave spirits. Plus, the digestif is good for the belly,”


Mary Pellettieri,co-founder of Top Note Tonic

“Campari and Bitter Lemon tonic with a twist of orange. It’s a classic before or after dinner. It is lower proof, has digestivo qualities and can carry you through spirited conversations without getting too tipsy! A great way to end a meal. I usually add Bitter Lemon to mine instead of soda water to add some depth.”

Assombroso Extra Anejo Tequila

Ben Sinon, bartender at Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, Arizona

“Some people like scotch or good bourbon. I prefer a quality Extra Anejo Tequila. Something with five years like the Assombroso Extra Anejo as a sipping drink with a cigar is delicious.”

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey

Brad Manske, beverage director at Viewhouse in Denver

What’s my favorite end of the night drink? I prefer Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey on the rocks – the hints of honey provide a naturally smooth finish.”

Fernet Branca

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Jeremy Williams, lead mixologist at Lumber Baron Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan

“It depends on the night, but I’ll go for either a fernet Branca or an Amontillado sherry.”

Green Chartreuse

Bryson Downham, beverage director at Toups Meatery and Toups South in New Orleans

“This might sound hypocritical, but I love to end the night with a shot of green chartreuse in a Grapefruit radler. It’s bright and thirst quenching, while still being herbaceous and powerful.”

Ketel One

Kalani Parducci, lead bartender at Rosswood inside River’s Edge Hotel in Portland, Oregon

“My favorite end of night beverage is kind of random. I really enjoy an extremely chilled shot of vodka like Ketel One or Tito’s with a lime wedge. It’s palate cleansing and usually has a calming effect as I’m sitting on the sofa running over inventory and orders.”

Horchata Cream Liqueur

Gerald Contreras, bartender at L Bar at Seminole Hardrock in Hollywood, Florida

“My favorite end of the night cocktail would be Horchata Cream Liqueur on the rocks with a sprinkle of powdered cinnamon. It’s a tasty cocktail which has rice pudding aromas with tastes of creamy vanilla and cinnamon raisin cake. Good stuff to end your night with.”