In past weeks, we’ve covered the most important whiskey bars, gin joints, and rum watering holes. Today, we’re looking at the most important tequila-centric bars in the US. These are the best bars to grab a tequila or mezcal cocktail or imbibe either of the spirits neat. As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, the rise of craft cocktailing has made way for niche bars that specialize in a specific spirit or cocktail type (see: tiki). Tequila is one of the most fun, often showing up in restaurants and bars that also serve a pretty delicious meal.
Lots of bars serve tequila, but to be one of the best, most important tequila bars in America requires that a bar has something extra than just a lot of tequila and some ready to go salt and limes. These are the establishments that thoughtfully curate the most extensive, interesting lists, have bartenders and chefs who truly know their tequila (so you can educate yourself on the good stuff), and cocktails that go beyond the standard Margarita or Tequila Sunrise (not that we don’t love a good version of either). Since the whole thing can get a little confusing (there are a lot of contenders out there), we looked to an expert to wade through thousands of bars to pick the very best, most iconic places in the U.S.
Aaron Polsky, bartender at Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles knows a thing or two about agave. That’s why he was tasked with giving us a list of the best bars, pubs, watering holes, and speakeasies that are bringing tequila and mezcal to a different level. These bars aren’t treating these Mexican spirits as shooters, but as the centerpiece to a great cocktail. Check them all out below.