Meet the Finalists for Bar of the Year

Cheers to our shortlist of the best bars in the city.

This year, we’re trying something different with our Restaurant Awards. In years past, we always struggled with trying to give every winner their proper due in the Restaurant Awards issue, and while it’s always our biggest of the year, there’s still never enough space to properly fete the great winners. That’s why we sometime rotate certain categories in and out. But this year we had an idea: our Jan/Feb issue is traditionally concerned with all things drinking, so why not transport the drinking categories of the Restaurant Awards—Sommelier of the Year, Bartender of the Year, Best Bar, Best Brewery—into their own special edition of the magazine? The winners will still be part of our yearly bash, but they’ll also get an issue of their own where we can properly sing their praises. The Drinking Issue will come out this February, but here’s a sneak peek of the rooms that will be vying for best bar.


This mecca for true cocktail nerds also serves as a world-beating factory for creating competition-winning bartenders in its spare time. The most elegant, adventurous watering hole in the city.


Who says good things don’t come in small packages? Boxcar boasts one of the better beer lists in town, along with strong offerings in the cocktail section. Oh, and they’ll let you bring in some pie from Pizzeria Farina next door. Take them up on it.

The Keefer Bar

An almost perfect bar. Its roster of bartenders—both past and present—includes former BOTYs Dani Tatarin and Amber Bruce, as well as legends Gez McAlpine and Keenan Hood. Even when the Keefer is slammed (which is pretty much always) the team of pros here craft each cocktail like they’re in a competition.

Trans Am

Haven’t heard of Trans Am? Awesome—that means there’s a slim chance we might actually get into this tiny spot of amazingness of Powell St. Curated to perfection, without looking curated at all.

Upstairs at Campagnolo

Everything—from the drinks, to the minimal signage, to the food, to the mustachioed smiling bartender who seems like a long lost friend in just 10 minutes—is just exactly as it should be at this temple of unstudied excellence.