Marking our second attempt at curating a reasonable list of new bar openings that stretches from the Arctic to Antarctic, there’s no doubt that this list could be much longer. While perennial favorite drinking towns like Buenos Aires and Chicago continue to expand their offerings, some new cities are entering the fray, including Guatemala City and Santiago. We are seeing bars look beyond cocktails too, with vermouth, natural wine, and even fermented jungle juices making some noise. Here, in no particular order, is our list of the Best New Bar Openings of 2018:
Set on a corner that straddles the Villa Crespo and Chacarita neighborhoods, Fuerza is a modern meets old-world bar whose homemade vermouth is helping to revive Buenos Aires’ appreciation of the fortified wine. The space has a laid-back, Rio de la Plata vibe, and the menu focuses on traditional fare like Milanesa a Caballo and tortilla de papas. Instagram.
This funky, tropical-themed bar at the bottom of an apartment building is helping to usher in a new wave of drinking venues in downtown Miami. Drinks, mostly originals made from small batch labels, are divided into categories that include Patio Pounders, Cocktails, and Exotics, while a short wine list focuses on small, independent producers. A small plate menu includes items like oysters and ‘Ndjua toast. jaguarsunmia.com.
In the basement beneath Frontera Grill, Rick Bayless, along with daughter Lanie, has opened a sort of cantina that expands his own idea of Mexican food into another category. Entered speakeasy style through a back alley and down a 100-year-old freight elevator, the spot features a mezcal-heavy cocktail menu, plus a list of mezcales, sotol, and Mexican beers and wines. The food at the 50-seat bar leans snacky, with a raw bar, a choriqueso topped burger, and taquitos ahogados. rickbayless.com/restaurants/bar-sotano.
In the back of the recreated Central in Barranco, the bar area has expanded greatly and now acts as separate establishment with one of the most progressive cocktail programs in Lima. With menu divided into landscapes (the Andes, Amazon, coast, and sea), Mayo has quietly become the cocktail equivalent of Central and many of the libations include macerations and fermentations of native fruits and plants. Additionally, there’s a short food menu that will give you a taste of what’s being served a few meters away at Central and Kjolle when tables are full. mayobar.com.
From the team behind Santiago’s 99, Prima Bar in Providencia is Kurt Schmidt’s foray into the maceration, fermentation, and all around experimentation of Chilean ingredients. The bar program is a focus of the restaurant, with 12 cocktails of their own design, all utilizing homemade and local ingredients. Additionally, there is an artisan beer made expressly for Prima, three types of Chilean vermouth, and a short list of natural wines, similar to 99. The kitchen, using two charcoal-fired Keveri ovens (one at a high temperature and the other low and slow), features just a few signature dishes, plus house-made cheeses and charcuterie. Primabar.cl.
Chef and restaurateur Diego Telles has opened this cocktail bar and lounge in the century old Casa del Aguila, the same building that houses his contemporary Guatemalan space Flor de Lis, one of Guatemala City’s best restaurants. Set in the thriving 4 Grados Norte neighborhood, the bar explores the connection of Guatemalan and regional spirits and liquors with local fruits and herbs, as well as serves classic cocktails. Instagram.
The eagerly awaited opening of two Michelin star Chef Dominique Crenn’s latest endeavor is here at last. Bar Crenn, a casual wine bar whose menu, says Crenn, pays “homage to the classics of French gastronomy” features recipes “donated” by French culinary masters including Alain Ducasse and Guy Savoy. Designed with the lounges of 1930’s Paris in mind, its chandeliers and cozy library vibe speaks to its intention as a starting place and end point for Atelier Crenn diners. The latter’s full tasting menu is, however, available on a limited basis. barcrenn.com
David McMillan, Fred Morin, and the team from the Joe Beef have expanded their empire with Mon Lapin, a natural wine bar in Montreal’s Little Italy neighborhood. The wine list is one of Canada’s best and includes many regional natural winemakers. In the works for several years, it serves soulful small plates sourced from area farms, including sunchoke bread, crab legs, croque céleri, foie gras salad, and other WTF items that are insanely delicious. No reservations. vinmonlapin.com.
Header image of Vermu La Fuerza in Buenos Aires courtesy Vermu la Fuerza.