Best Intimate Bars and Lounges

Vote for your favorite in the 2018 Platinum List Awards

May / June 2018
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From New York to Seville to Singapore, these establishments provide high spirits, low lighting and a memorable ambience. Help us determine the best in luxury travel for the 2018 Celebrated Living Platinum List Awards. Your vote will help select the top bars. Voting ends June 30. Read about the winners in our Platinum List Awards issue, on planes September 1.

28 HongKong Street

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Regularly named one of Asia’s best bars, this award-winning, clandestine lounge combines innovation and tradition, and put the Singapore cocktail scene on the international map.

8.2.0

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

One of the best places to do karaoke in Charlotte, the slick 8.2.0 bar includes a karaoke room, pizzeria and a hidden library lounge. The tradition is down a cocktail or two whilst playing songs on the vintage jukebox, then end the night massacring those same songs in the karaoke lounge.

Bar 228

Paris, France

Soak up the history at this storied venue inside the Le Meurice hotel—recently given a glittering update by Philippe Starck—while sipping on signature cocktails and enjoying live jazz. 

Bar Americano

Seville, Spain

Hidden inside the Hotel Alfonso XII, this ornate cocktail bar glows in sapphire hues with gilded accents and curates an extensive list of gin-based drinks.

The Bar at the Egerton House

London, England

James Bond walks into a small, elegant bar in central London and orders a martini, neither shaken nor stirred. As the drink is served, 007 smiles at a beautiful woman sitting nearby, and then, without breaking eye contact, brings his face down to the glass and makes a noise like a bathtub emptying. 

The so-called “Egerton Slurp” might not fit in a Bond movie, but it works fine for the patrons of The Bar at The Egerton House Hotel, a boutique property in affluent Knightsbridge. For a long time now, this tiny bar has served what many believe to be the best martini in town. Options run from chocolate to lemon drop to lychee, but real devotees order the classic.

“This place is a temple,” says barman Esley Gunaratne. “People come to worship the martini.” He exaggerates, but there is something ritualistic about the way he goes about his work. “The glass and bottle are chilled to minus-22 degrees,” he says. “There is no ice, no dilution.” He pours the unshaken, unstirred spirit to the rim of the glass, adds a suggestion of vermouth and a lemon twist, then tells me how to drink it: “Don’t pick it up; put your face down.” 

In his white jacket and black bow tie, Gunaratne looks every bit the genteel English barman. His manner, though, tells a different story. At one point, a regular comes in and he asks her how she’d like her martini. “Make me a dirty!” she says with a sly smile. “Ah,” Gunaratne replies. “My kind of girl.”

Things get even less formal on Saturday afternoons, when The Egerton hosts its doggie afternoon tea. While four-legged guests don’t get to try the martinis (they drink alcohol-free “pawsecco”), they do have the slurp thing down to a fine art.
—Chris Wright

Bar Fiori

New York City, New York, United States

Up a twisting flight of marble stairs, this sleek alcove attached to the Ai Fiori restaurant in the Langham Place keeps the plush curtains drawn to quiet the commotion of Fifth Avenue.

Dante

New York City, New York, United States

A storied venue since the glory days of Greenwich Village, this history-laden spot now serves acclaimed craft cocktails and bites. 

King Cole Bar, Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico

Overlooking the capital’s Angel of Independence column and Chapultepec Castle, this swank spot offers a signature Bloody Mary. 

Knee High Stocking Co.

Seattle, Washington, United States

For the past decade, this secretive, subterranean lounge on Capitol Hill requires guests to ring a bell for entry. Once inside, they enjoy Filipino dishes and imaginative cocktails.

Ladies Room at Fat Rice

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Even if you’re looking for it, The Ladies’ Room isn’t easy to find. Nestled between Chicago’s beloved Macau-inspired restaurant Fat Rice (whose chef and co-owner, Abe Conlon, recently earned a James Beard Award) and its next-door bakery, it’s a snug 20-seat jewel box of a bar that necessitates a trip past the kitchen and into the heart of the building, setting the stage for the experience to come.

The Ladies’ Room takes its cultural cues from the hidden backroom dens of Macau’s red-light district in the early 20th century. A wall decked with vintage pinup art is cast in a literal red glow, creating a backdrop where minutes easily turn to hours.

Of course, some of the credit for lingering belongs to the libations, which expand the horizons of even frequent imbibers. One could start with a Side Hustle—which takes a duo of St. George gins (dry rye and terroir) and Punt e Mes and blends them with baijiu to achieve a remarkably smooth result. From there it could be a pour of the bar’s signature amaro, which started as a cardoon-based experiment but evolved into a favorite after years of tinkering. 

And if you find yourself wondering, What exactly is feni? (a cashew-based spirit from India), fear not: The staff is equal parts knowledgeable and accommodating. “Our strategy has been to keep the menu relatively opaque, but to make the service really accessible,” says beverage director Annie Beebe-Tron. So ask questions—there’s a good chance the table next to you is wondering the same thing. —Matt Lynch

Midnight Rambler

Dallas, Texas, United States

This subterranean bar in the hip Joule hotel offers potent drinks and a saucy scene, featuring vintage furnishings, vinyl tracks and whimsical details.

Operation Dagger

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

You won’t find a flashy sign on the door of this mysterious spot in Singapore. There are no labels on the apothecary bottles of liquor either, just codes known only to the bartenders. Once inside, you’ll find thousands of unlit light bulbs dangling from the ceiling, a dreamlike ambiance, and some of the most meticulously crafted cocktails in town.

The Polo Bar

New York City, New York, United States

This New York classic is renowned for its elegant cocktail menu and delectable bar snacks.

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