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Great Hotel Cocktail Bars in the West

Stylish, swanky, or just plain fun, these hotel bars in the West make for a great night out. 

people look out at the san francisco skyline at the Cityscape Lounge, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Courtesy Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Photo caption
Cityscape Lounge serves up San Francisco vistas.

"Every great hotel needs a great hotel bar," asserted Anthony Bourdain on the TV show No Reservations. Standout hotels of the West boast some of the finest spots for cocktail consumption—stylish, swanky, or just plain fun—and you can stay over after imbibing.

  • Recently reopened on the 46th floor of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, the Cityscape Lounge features 360-degree views of the San Francisco Bay Area. General Manager Lenny Gumm enjoys watching hawks from his perch: "It's so high up it's like being in a cloud," he says. The Noe Valley—vodka, Aperol, and prosecco sweetened with agave—appeals for spring.

  • The Willamette Valley luxury spa resort Allison Inn and Spa of Newberg, Ore., may be known for its award- winning wine menu, but don't miss the seasonal cocktails at Jory, an elegant bar set amid the hills and vines. Wine Director Ken Bolick recommends the “simple and clean flavors” of cocktails with local rhubarb or nettles. The Pinot-rita, made with a pinot noir reduction, is an apropos twist.

  • In Boise's artsy Linen District, the Modern Hotel and Bar, a sleek spot with humble origins as a Travelodge, has been "reanimated" with mid-century design and furnishings. Quaff a Gin & Jus—Sémillon verjuice mixed with gin and a bit of absinthe, perfumed with lovage leaves—and nibble on snacks from the James Beard Award–nominated kitchen.

  • Pépé Le Moko in Portland's Ace Hotel, named after a French gangster film, captured Bon Appétit's notice as one of its Best New Cocktail Bars in 2014. This underground speakeasy, with a narrow footprint and concrete-and-wood-paneled walls, serves up reimagined classics and playful originals from a 16-foot zinc bar. Slurp raw oysters with a tall drink of Kingston Club, a fanciful mix of Drambuie, pineapple juice, lime, Fernet-Branca, and angostura bitters.

  • After exploring California's Sonoma Valley, relax with a "farm to bar" drink at the eco-chic H2hotel in Healdsburg. At its airy Spoonbar, open to the outdoors on warm spring evenings, Bar Manager Alec Vlastnik devotes a portion of the menu to "a single spirit that captures the essence of the season.” For spring, that essence is gin. The Dr. Cocktail combines a local gin with a ginger-apricot puree and lemon, topped off with Roederer Brut.

  • Named for U.S. illustrator Charles Dana Gibson's drawings of women, the Gibson Lounge at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City welcomes with comfy couches and quiet nooks for conversation. Forty Gibson sketches collected by the hotel's owners hang on the walls. The latest buzz is a Queen Bee's Knees: local Beehive gin with Utah honey, lemon, and lavender bitters.

  • Las Vegas mixologists conjure up craft cocktails in the Vesper Bar, a shimmery oasis in the Cosmopolitan Hotel's casino. An ornate wood bar cabinet and glass-and-fabric installation add to the ambience. Classic drinks such as the namesake Vesper, a James Bond–inspired mix of vodka, gin, and Lillet, line one half of the menu; creative interpretations tempt on the facing side. Or take your chances on a Dealer's Choice cocktail: Name your favorite spirits and flavors, and the house will hand you a winner.

  • Where was Anthony Bourdain when he made his claim about excellent hotel bars? The Murray Bar in tiny Livingston, Montana. A remaining bastion of the Wild West with a bright vintage neon sign, it draws locals for live music, winning cocktails such as the Murray Mule—made with house-infused vodka (berry, citrus, sweet tea, or ginger)—and tall tales of a century of entertaining celebrities and cowboys near Yellowstone National Park.

This article was first published in Spring 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.