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U.S. Cities With the Highest-Rated Cocktail Bars [2024 Data Study]

Alex Miller's image
Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

295 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3236 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

Americans’ love affair with cocktail bars is undeniable. From the classic allure of an old-fashioned to the artistry of a skilled bartender, something is enchanting about the experience of sipping a perfectly crafted drink in an atmosphere designed for unwinding and enjoying quality time with friends. 

Quality cocktail bars are scattered across every corner of the U.S., but where can the best of the best be found? To answer this question as best we could, we analyzed Yelp data from thousands of cocktail bars in America’s largest cities to determine the locales with the best cocktail bars, the most cocktail bar-dense destinations, and the very best cocktail bar in each city.

Which Cities Have the Best Cocktail Bars?

Map of cities with highest rated cocktail bars
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Across our study, the average rating for cocktail bars in the U.S. stands at a very impressive 4.0 out of 5. Is that rating likely inflated due to the mindset of people in these establishments when the cocktails start flowing? Sure, but that doesn’t take away from the patrons’ positive experience. What it does is leave us with 1 big question: Which cities rise above the rest in this spirited competition of cocktail bar quality?

Leading the pack is Cincinnati, Ohio, where cocktail enthusiasts can revel in the highest-rated cocktail bars with a city-wide average rating of 4.63 out of 5. Coming in a very close second is Hartford, Connecticut, which secures the silver spot with a rating just slightly lower at 4.53 out of 5.

In third place, we have a tie between Indianapolis, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio. Both cities earn a respectable rating of 4.49 out of 5. In joint-fourth place, we have Springfield, Massachusetts, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, each boasting an average rating of 4.43.

Rounding out the top 5 is a city many would suspect as being a cocktail capital in the U.S. New York, New York, has an average cocktail bar rating of 4.37 and, unsurprisingly, had the most cocktail bars in our analysis.

It’s clear that quality cocktail bars can be found from coast to coast. Next, we’re going to take a look at cocktail bar density around the country.

Which U.S. Cities Have the Most Cocktail Bars?

Map of cities with most cocktail bars per capita
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Now that we know the cities where people have the best chance of having great cocktail bar experiences, we want to take a closer look at where these fancy watering holes can be found most regularly across the country. For reference, the average across every city in our study is just 1.73.

Topping the list in cocktail bar density is Durham, North Carolina, where cocktail drinkers are spoiled for choice with a staggering 7.95 cocktail bars per 100K people – the highest in our study by a considerable margin. It’s clear that Durham knows how to keep its residents and visitors well-hydrated and thoroughly entertained.

Not to be too outdone is a city rich in history and lively nightlife possibilities. We’re talking, of course, about New Orleans, Louisiana. The Big Easy has an impressive 5.63 cocktail bars per 100K people, making it the country’s second-most dense city for cocktail bars.

Omaha, Nebraska, secures third place on our list with 4.32 cocktail bars per 100K people, ensuring that the Midwest is well-represented in the world of cocktail accessibility. Las Vegas, Nevada, and San Antonio, Texas, round out our top 5 with 4.06 and 3.92 cocktail bars per 100K people, respectively. 

From the Northeast to the West and select cities in between, cocktail bar capitals can be found all over the U.S. when it comes to both quality and quantity.

The Highest-Rated Cocktail Bar in Every City

While preferences on ambiance and taste are sure to differ when it comes to the ideal cocktail outing, our analysis of over 2,500 bars from America’s 100 largest cities sheds some light on the places to go for cocktail aficionados visiting any part of the U.S.

Curious about the highest-rated cocktail bar in a city near you? Looking for the perfect place to unwind on the first day of your next vacation? Use our interactive table below to easily search by city or sort through the data to uncover the top-rated cocktail spots across the country.

Methodology

To determine the cities with the best cocktail bars, we scraped thousands of cocktail bar Yelp listings from the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. and averaged their star ratings out of 5. To ensure cocktail bars were the focus of the study, we only used establishments where cocktail bars were their featured function on Yelp. 

We also found which cities have the most cocktail bars per capita and what the highest-rated cocktail bar in each city was. When determining the highest-rated cocktail bar in each city, the cocktail bar had to have at least 10 total reviews. For instances where ties occurred for the highest-rated cocktail bars, the one with more reviews was awarded ‘highest-rated.’

Final Thoughts

As cocktail connoisseurs, we understand the thrill of finding the perfect spot to unwind and relax, whether in our own city after work or halfway across the country on vacation. From the highest-rated spots in Cincinnati to the classic cocktail scene of New Orleans, we found the cities that truly shine when it comes to mixology mastery.

At Upgraded Points, we’re not just about sharing unmatched travel and credit card information – we’re about celebrating the experiences that make travel unforgettable. So, here’s to raising our glasses to the cities that inspire us, the bars that delight us, and the shared love of exceptional cocktails that brings us together. Cheers to exploration, discovery, and the endless pursuit of the perfect sip.

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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