Pegu is one of the great bars. But Grassroots Tavern?Photo: Melissa HomEsquire has released the latest installment of its annual "Best Bars in America" list, and the New York selections have us totally baffled. At least on the Website, the meaning of the ratings isn’t clear, nor can we figure out why some bars get a full write-up and others a single sentence. Certainly the national bar map is cool, and possibly even worthy of an On the Road–style pilgrimage. But how, we wonder, could generic watering holes like the Saloon and Grassroots Tavern make it onto a list that is, rightfully, largely composed of one-of-a-kind drink meccas like Pegu, Little Branch, Bemelmans Bar? And while we love the bar at San Domenico, and would rather have a Prosecco there than practically anywhere, it’s relatively small and part of a formal restaurant. It’s also a favorite gathering place of Esquire editors. We’re also glad to see that Minetta Tavern made it in for its last year of existence, like an elderly actor who wins an honorary Oscar before passing away. (Of course, since there’s no mention of the place closing, it’s probably more oversight than elegy.) And Bill’s Gay Nineties is still the best piano bar anywhere in the world. If you’re traveling and want a drink, Esquire can tell you where to go.
The Best Bars in America [Esquire]