Skip to Content

Bucket List Bars: 25 U.S. Bars You Have to Visit At Least Once

Bucket List Bars: 25 U.S. Bars You Have to Visit At Least Once

America is full to the brim with bars and pubs. Even the tiniest village seems to have a watering hole. How can you possibly decide which ones to visit and which ones to avoid? We’ve scoured the U.S. in search of the most creative, famous, oldest and all around interesting bars to add to your bucket list. These are the 25 U.S. bars you have to visit at least once.

‘21’ Club 

New York, NY
Cousins Jack Kreindler and Charlie Berns opened the first inclination of the ‘21’ Club in 1922. It opened as a speakeasy and still has secret walls and rooms. Through the years, it was frequented by countless celebrities including: Richard Nixon, Ernest Hemingway and Marilyn Monroe. Link

The Carousel Bar & Lounge 

New Orleans, LA
Visiting the Carousel Bar & Lounge is like taking a trip into the New Orleans of yesteryear. Situated in the historic French Quarter, it’s been a popular spot for visitors and locals for the last sixty-five years. The city’s only revolving bar, it seats twenty-five people and will make you feel like you’re drinking on a real carousel without the motion sickness. Link

Tom Bergin’s 

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles’ Tom Bergin’s is one of the first American bars to ever have Irish Coffee on its menu (San Francisco’s Buena Vista Café is the other). You can still visit the place and get the classic booze and caffeine hybrid that they’ve been proudly making since 1936. Link

Sazerac Bar 

New Orleans, LA
The Sazerac is one of the most iconic drinks, and the Sazerac Bar is one of the holiest places in the world of American cocktails. Located inside of the famous Roosevelt Hotel, the staff at Sazerac Bar has been crafting high quality cocktails since 1923. Link

Red Square 

Las Vegas, NV
You probably guessed from its name, but Red Square is the place to be if you’re a vodka drinker in Las Vegas. It is home to a frozen lounge that boasts a selection of over 200 vodka varieties. Don’t worry if you didn’t bring your mink coat, they’ll provide one for you to brave the cold temperatures. Link

One Flew South 

Atlanta, GA

Airport bars are usually of the chain variety and only good for a pick me up between flights. Atlanta’s One Flew South is something different. Located in the middle of the chaos that is the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, One Flew South is a safe haven for cocktail fans and those looking for something more than just a beer and a burger. Link

The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog

New York, NY
New York’s Dead Rabbit has won multiple awards including being named the “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” and the “World’s Best Cocktail Menu” at Tales of the Cocktail. If you like historical cocktails, the Dead Rabbit is a can’t miss. The expansive menu is full of popular as well as forgotten classics. Link

City Tavern 

Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia’s City Tavern is one of the most historical bars in the United States. The spot where the likes of John Adams and George Washington went to chat is now the place to get beers and cocktails inspired by the founding fathers. Link

McSorley’s Old Ale House

New York, NY
New York’s McSorley’s Old Ale House might not have the greatest selection (beer is either light or dark only) but what it lacks in beer selection, it makes up for in history. The oldest bar in New York City, McSorley’s was founded in 1854. That’s got to be worth something.

The Tunnel Bar 

Northampton, MA
Located in Northampton, Massachusetts, the tunnel that is now the Tunnel Bar was built in 1896. Originally a tunnel passengers used to walk to awaiting trains, the area is now home to a long, subterranean bar where customers can enjoy cocktails and beer without even needing to purchase a train ticket. Link


Los Angeles, CA

Visit Los Angeles’ Tiki-Ti and take a step back in time to a different era in cocktailing. The 1950s and 60s, a time when Tiki drinks were all the rage and people like Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron and Donn “The Beach Comber” Beach were the biggest cocktail celebrities, are where you’re headed. Link

Employees Only 

New York, NY
New York’s Employees Only opened in 2004. It was designed by five bartenders who hoped to create a place where the cocktail would be center stage and new, exciting ideas and techniques could come forth. It worked, and Employees Only is a can’t miss for fans of the art of cocktailing and mixology. Link

Green Mill Lounge 

Chicago, IL
Chicago’s Green Mill was designed to resemble Paris’ famous Moulin Rouge. It opened as Pop Morse’s Roadhouse in 1902 and was frequented by some of the most famous mobsters in history, including the infamous Al Capone. You can sit in the same spot where mobsters enjoyed their whiskey. Link

Noble Experiment

San Diego, CA
Located in downtown San Diego, Noble Experiment is definitely different. Named for Prohibition itself, the bar has no open sign, let alone a sign signifying where it’s located. If you can manage to find the place and can grab one of the thirty-two seats, you’ll be treated to some of the best, original cocktails in the country. Link

Pinewood Social

Nashville, TN
The Music City is home to some great, historical bars and restaurants. But Pinewood Social, although not shrouded in history, is definitely worth a whole evening of your time. Play some Bocce, go bowling or try a hand-crafted cocktail inside this enormous funhouse for adults. Link

The Old ’76 House 

Tappan, NY
Located in Tappan, New York (just outside of New York City), The Old ’76 House is the oldest bar in America, having been established in 1668 long before the United States even existed. Link

Sloppy Joe’s 

Key West, FL
Opened in 1933, Sloppy Joe’s is a Key West Staple. One of the most famous customers was Ernest Hemingway, who spent much of his free time at the bar. It was named for a similar bar that Hemingway frequented in Old Havana. What better place to get a Mojito than the iconic writer’s favorite haunt. Link

Please Don’t Tell

New York, NY
New York’s Please Don’t Tell (aka PDT) is not your average speakeasy. To get into one of the most popular cocktail bars in the world, you need to enter through a top-secret phone booth located inside of a hot dog restaurant. Once inside, you can grab a dog while you enjoy their amazing cocktails.

El Chapultepec 

Denver, CO
The name might seem out of place in the “Mile High City,” but El Chapultepec has been the place to go for jazz music since 1933 (right after prohibition ended). Its famous guests included the likes of Frank Sinatra and Jack Kerouac. Link

Old Seelbach Bar

Louisville, KY
Listed as one of the “50 Best Bars in the World,” visiting the Old Seelbach Bar is like taking a step back into southern history. This classic, early 1900s bar is home to a ridiculous bourbon collection and skilled bartenders crafting amazing classic cocktails. Enjoy one while you sit in a comfy easy chair overlooking the scene. Link

Nihon Whisky Lounge 

San Francisco, CA
If you like whiskey, you’ll love Nihon. This San Francisco lounge is home to over 500 different whiskies from all over the world. Nihon is more than just a bar, though, it’s also a full-service restaurant where you can get Japanese Izakaya (Japan’s answer to tapas). Link

Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon 

Oakland, CA
Oakland’s Heinold’s First and Last Chance was built in 1883 from the guts of a whaling ship. In the early days, it was frequented by Jack London, sailors and all forms of seafarers. Now, its clientele is more in the vein of land lovers and those looking for a beer in an authentic, classic saloon.

Proof on Main 

Louisville, KY
GQ referred to Proof on Main as one of their “New Whiskey Temples” and the menu definitely backs that up with over 75 bourbon varieties alone. But it’s more than just a whiskey bar. It boasts a wine list of over 100 different bottles and an educated staff willing to pair you with the right wine, whiskey or whatever other spirit strikes your fancy. Link

Rum Club 

Portland, OR
If you’re a pirate (or you just like rum), Rum Club in Portland is perfect for you. As if the name wasn’t indication enough, the bar has an expansive list of rums and rum-fueled cocktails to please any palate. Try the “Rum Club Old Fashioned” with Bacardi 8 instead of the usual whiskey. Link

Kelly’s Irish Times

Washington, DC
If you’re looking for a classic, American Irish pub, look no further than Kelly’s Irish Times in our nation’s capital. It commonly makes top ten lists for Best Irish Pubs in the country and was named one of the best bars in American in 2014 by Esquire. Order a Short Rib Shephard’s Pie and wash it down with a Guinness. Link