Cocktails allow a bartender to truly flex his or her creative muscle. Augmented by a counter full of syrups, shrubs, bitters, and sodas—often made in-house—cocktails are an avenue for pure expression, leading travelers to scour the world for ever distinct, more surprising flavors and presentations.
Cocktail culture, too, adds to the mystique: from private roof terraces to unmarked speakeasies to Victorian-style lounges with oil lamps and waistcoated bartenders, the full experience relies heavily on a sense of place. That’s why so many travelers consult Travel + Leisure’s guide to the world’s best cocktails when planning a trip. Drawing on our network of reviewers and experts, we sift through the pile to bring you the very finest places to knock one (or a few) back.
Now that mixology has officially made it into the mainstream, cities around the world continue to up the ante with brilliantly conceived concoctions. Travel + Leisure keeps tabs on its favorite cocktail destinations, championing new takes on classics—like a rose petal-infused Gin & Tonic—as well as inventive use of exotic ingredients such as coconut cream, Japanese Shiso leaf, and house-fermented herbs.
Many of our favorite drinking dens are about more than just cocktails. From San Francisco to Cape Town to Edinburgh, patrons can also enjoy Michelin-starred cuisine, live music, and festive themes—a spaghetti western saloon in London, for example, or a Charleston bar that projects black-and-white movies onto the wall.
There’s no end to the creativity: catering to travelers’ diverse tastes, bartenders at the world’s top bars will happily whip up a cocktail based on individual preferences—just name a spirit, call out a flavor profile (‘spicy,’ ‘citrus’) and watch the magic unfold. Feeling adventurous? From micro-cocktails to caramelized sugar masterpieces, Travel + Leisure devotes serious time finding the game-changing cocktail trends that are shaking up the scene.