But there were a lot more I couldn't include for one reason or another. So here are more bars we're looking forward to this year:
The Regent Cocktail Club in South Beach, Miami - With John Lermayer heading up the cocktail program.
The Alder by Wylie Dufresne in New York - Some info here.
South on Main in Little Rock, Arkansas - Chef Matt Bell and mixlogist Dave Burnette, in partnership with the Oxford American.
Handle Bar in Berkeley - from the owner of ACME bar.
Milk & Honey in New York - relocated, bigger, no reservations required
Hi Lo in San Francisco - barbecue restaurant with session beers and big, refreshing cocktails by locavore mixologist Scott Beattie and Left Coast Libations co-author Michael Lazar.
Rogue & Canon in New York - an "approachable bar and kitchen" serving a truncated menu representing the modern American “canon” and the “rogue” stylings of mixologist Johnny Swet.
Tavern Road in Boston - Mixologist Ryan McGrale, formerly of No. 9 Park and Boston’s New York's Flatiron Lounge, will team up with Chef Louis DiBiccari to open Tavern Road in the Fort Point neighborhood in early 2013. The bar program will place a heavy emphasis on craft cocktails that utilize small batch spirits and pay homage to the classics.
Unnamed in Dallas - by Michael Martensen. More info here.
Planter's House in St. Louis - Ted Kilgore says "Planter's House will also have a more intimate handcrafted cocktail bar within the space called the Bullock Room, where I can geek out on cocktails."
Chris Lane, formerly of Heaven's Dog and Wo Hing General Store, took over the bar manager position at Lolinda in San Francisco in December. (The original menu was done by Lane Ford.) Lolinda is a large, modern steakhouse owned by the same folks who brought us Beretta, Starbelly, and Delarosa.
The cocktail menu is split between eight original cocktails (six of them Lane's) and nine classics including the Negroni and Americano. This is Lane's first full menu.
Lane says his directive with the menu was to make the drinks as boldly flavored, modern versions of steakhouse cocktails. Most of them are quite spirit-forward, and on average the drinks are dark brown or yellow in color.
I found them to be food-friendly yet not food-dependent. You can definitely just have a drink and grab a snack, like the delicious smoked artichoke.
Modern Cocktails of Lolinda, From Best to Worst
1. Carpenter’s Hand brandy, amontillado sherry, Drambuie, orange peel, served on the rock.
This drink owes its magnificence to the choice of brandy - Marie Duffau Armagnac. It's a little funky and wild, with so much character it carries through over the other ingredients. The chocolate notes of the sherry seem to grow in intensity as the drink slowly melts on the big ice cube. This drink hits it out of the park.
2. Devil’s Backbone rye, islay scotch, Averna amaro, Gran Classico, two bitters, orange peel, served on the stem.
Robust, delicious, surprisingly exciting, and smoky, this cocktail tastes like the cigarette after sex, and also the sex. It should definitely be your last drink of the evening, as it's rich enough to accompany or replace dessert.
One of just two drinks on the menu not designed by Lane, the Flor De Jerez is credited to Joaquin Simo (Death & Co., Pouring Ribbons). The drink is juicy and citrusy and delicious and fairly low in alcohol and a joy to sip. There are more novice-friendly cocktails on the menu, but I'd recommend this to your cocktail-shy friends.
4. Cloak and Dagger reposado tequila, Cynar, apricot, bitters, orange peel, served on the stem.
Peppery tequila is the dominant flavor note here, with a dry bitter finish. This is a tequila cocktail that will pair well with food.
5. The Lone Palm house spiced rum, lime, grapefruit, honey, bitters, served on the stem.
One of the two crowd-pleasers on the menu, the Lone Palm has that lime-grapefruit-honey flavor combination (often seen at Heaven's Dog) with which it's hard to go wrong.
The other crowd pleaser and the top-selling drink by far at Lolina. It's all about apple cinnamon with maple in this one. Even your grandmother would like it.
7. Bergen St. aquavit, Plymouth gin, lime, vanilla, Galliano, absinthe, served on the stem.
This cocktail was created by Lane Ford and rolls over from the previous menu. Despite all the ingredients it screams Gimlet in flavor profile. The aquavit, absinthe, and Galliano all dance around the anise flavor note.
The much-delayed and much-anticipated Trick Dog has opened in San Francisco. You've heard about it by now, unless you've been living under a rock without a wifi hotspot. But so far they hadn't released the menu. Here it is.
And if you haven't seen a million pictures of the bar already, here are a few. Click on the thumbnails on top to see the others full size.
I visited the bar for the first time Monday but only had one cocktail, which is unlike me. I look forward to going back and drinking my way through the rest of the menu.
Camper English is a cocktails and spirits writer for publications including Saveur (Contributing Drinks Editor), FSR Magazine (Spirits Editor), Whisky Advocate, Details.com, PopSci.com, Mixology, Drinks International, and many more. Learn about Camper and Alcademics, or read clips of his published work.