If you want to visit what one survey is calling the best bar this side of the Atlantic, you’ll need to head to New York City. Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in specific.
Attaboy, a drinking spot described as an “intimate speakeasy,” has been named the top watering hole in the inaugural North America’s 50 Best Bars survey. The announcement was made Tuesday night in New York.
William Reed, the media company behind the new survey, also releases annual reviews that cover the World’s 50 Best Bars and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Since it opened about a decade ago, Attaboy has been celebrated for its easygoing approach. The bar has no formal menu. Patrons instead talk through their drink preferences with bartenders, who then craft something accordingly. New York magazine called it a standard-bearer of the city’s craft-cocktail scene.
In a press conference following the award ceremony, Attaboy general manager Haley Traub said that emphasizing customer service has been key to the establishment’s success.
“There’s nothing more important to me … than making sure you are having the drinking experience you want to have,” Traub said.
Members of the Attaboy team — from left, co-owner Michael McIlroy, general manager Haley Traub and co-owner Sam Ross — celebrate their top-bar showing on Tuesday.
In a statement, Mark Sansom, content director for the 50 Best Bars survey, said that despite Attaboy’s modest size, “it has had an outsized influence on how we drink not only in New York and the U.S.A., but globally as well.”
Attaboy — which also has a Nashville, Tenn., location — wasn’t the only New York spot to land on the list. Far from it. In all, the city, long known as a bar mecca, claimed 11 of the 50 spots, the most of any locale. Others to make the cut included Katana Kitten (No. 4) and Dante (No. 8), both in Greenwich Village. Katana Kitten ranked highest among American bars — in the 10th spot — in the most recent World’s Best Bars list. In 2019, Dante claimed the “world’s best bar” title in a different industry program.
Mexico City was also strongly represented on the North America’s 50 Best Bars list, with six spots making the cut. Among them were Handshake Speakeasy (No. 2) and Licorería Limantour (No. 3).
A number of Canadian bars were also represented on the list, with Civil Liberties, a Toronto establishment, ranking highest in the 10th spot. Head bartender Casey Ryan said there’s no real formula to being a great bar other than the obvious one: “We just have to make sure [customers] have a drink in their hand.”
Here is the full list of the North America’s 50 Best Bars:
Attaboy (New York)
Handshake Speakeasy (Mexico City)
Licorería Limantour (Mexico City)
Katana Kitten (New York)
Café La Trova (Miami)
Baltra Bar (Mexico City)
Dante (New York)
Thunderbolt (Los Angeles)
Civil Liberties (Toronto)
Zapote Bar (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)
La Factoría (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Kaito del Valle (Mexico City)
Sweet Liberty (Miami)
Café de Nadie (Mexico City)
Hanky Panky (Mexico City)
Double Chicken Please (New York)
Service Bar (Washington, D.C.)
Raised by Wolves (San Diego)
Sabina Sabe (Oaxaca, Mexico)
El Gallo Altanero (Guadalajara, Mexico)
Selva (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Amor y Amargo (New York)
Jewel of the South (New Orleans)
The Keefer Bar (Vancouver, B.C.)
Dear Irving (New York)
Overstory (New York)
Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas)
El Pequeño Bar (Montreal)
Employees Only (New York)
The Dead Rabbit (New York)
Broken Shaker (Miami)
Friends and Family (Oakland, Calif.)
Death & Co. (Los Angeles)
Mace (New York)
Death & Co. (Denver)
Arca (Tulum, Mexico)
ABV (San Francisco)
El Floridita (Havana, Cuba)
Bar Raval (Toronto)
Bar Leather Apron (Honolulu)
Clover Club (New York)
Bitter & Twisted (Phoenix)
Cloakroom Bar (Montreal)
Bar Mordecai (Toronto)
Teardrop Lounge (Portland, Ore.)
Bar Kismet (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Genever (Los Angeles)