Spirited SuccessesTwelve restaurants where the bar is raised to exceptional standards. by Alia AkkamA staggering number of bars today—whether an upscale speakeasy or neighborhood dive—astound with their rich collections of obscure spirits, carefully created concoctions, and knowledgeable staff.
There’s a lot that makes America great, including freedom of choice. From 31 flavors of ice cream to, more to my point, 99 bottles of beer on the wall, consumers want what they want—so, why would any bar manager or restaurateur limit their patrons’ options? And yet, not to throw the good folks at places such as the Yard House under the bus, but the Irvine, California–originated chain with some 60 locations offers between 130 and 250 beers on its tap lists.
In a reader’s poll conducted by the Brewers Association’s CraftBeer.com, the winner of the Best Beer Bar in America for three straight years was Mekong in Richmond, Virginia. While the Mekong Delta in Vietnam hardly evokes a beery image like the Senne Valley in Belgium or the Bavarian state in Germany, it nevertheless is the namesake of the Vietnamese restaurant that the Bui family opened in 1995.
The word hibernate comes from the Latin hibernare: to spend the winter. That’s the root for the French word meaning to wish for winter, hiver. Hence, the French Canadian brewery Brasserie Dieu du Ciel releases its winter saison, Solstice d’Hiver, around the winter solstice.
The crisp autumn air. The earth-tone foliage. And the season’s most popular fruit. With the apple harvest comes a season for putting the resurgence in American cider-making front and center on any table, and a handful of restaurants or cider-centric public houses are at the forefront of this movement.
To learn the best bicycling cities, we turn to Bicycling magazine. And its editors list the top three two-wheeler towns as Minneapolis; Portland, Oregon; and Boulder, Colorado. So it’s no surprise to find three of the best bike-and-beer experiences in those locales.
Beer goes with a great many things, and top of that list is, naturally, food. Many would say that great company shares top honors, but let’s not forget sunshine, too. Beer sales surge in the summer months (Nielsen scans show the Fourth of July is consistently the peak) and the opportunity to soak up rays and hops simultaneously is a key driver for restaurants that provide for dining, and imbibing, al fresco.