Who would have ever dreamed that a bar that could sling incredible cocktails would also have a bowling alley? Well, a couple guys in Nashville did with Pinewood Social.

Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash proudly continues the tiki legacy.

Cocktail bars are opening across major American cities almost as fast as Starbucks these days, transforming the way we drink for the better. But, these holders of the golden shaker don’t stop at just making great drinks. The best operators know that drinkers expect to be transported through detailed décor, inventive menus and attentive service. It’s a brave new Yelp-ruled world. And, with patrons having more choice than ever of where to spend their money, many have declared that the era of the pretentious bartender is over. Bridging the gap between catering to locals or reeling in tourists, these places are elevating what it means to be a modern cocktail bar. Here are eight new places around the country to seek out:

1. ABV | San Francisco
Opened in July, this place already has serious street cred in the Bay Area with a bar team that hails from favorites Bourbon & Branch as well as Beretta. Sleek and modern in feel with tall ceilings, ABV has a modest selection of about 16 cocktails, as well as California wines on tap, beers and more than enough mezcal options. The food, inexpensive and capable of soaking up volumes of cocktails, ranges from fritters to a pimento cheeseburger. For a different sort of cocktail, try the Dartmoor: a green-hued Calvados cocktail with lemon, juniper-infused honey syrup, and basil. 3174 16th St., abvsf.com

2. Pépé Le Moko | Portland, OR
Kitsch and quirk may be welcome facets in Portland. But, downstairs in the Ace Hotel at Pépé Le Moko, you’ll see straight-faced interpretations of some of the best-known drinks to be served in America during the supposed "dark ages” of cocktails (that would be the mid-20th century). The twist lies in how well these drinks are crafted and careful selection of ingredients, including everything from the best Long Island Iced Tea you’ll ever have to a Stumptown espresso Martini, and a Grasshopper made with Fernet. Oysters, sandwiches and snacks round out this intimate venue, which features a uniquely arched, low ceiling, only adding to the allure. 407 SW Tenth Ave., pepelemokopdx.com

3. Melrose Umbrella Company | Los Angeles
Far from a speakeasy, the gorgeously reclaimed and historical setting of Melrose Umbrella Company is meant to welcome you, insuring that you’ll stay to mingle with the crowd as you drink through the menu of classics and modern twists. Locals know to order grilled cheeses from next door, or even from other restaurants in the area. And, if the crowd builds to standing-room-only, the bar keeps craft beer, as well as cocktails and Fernet Branca, on draft. The spirit-driven menu consists of a rotating cast of offerings from seasonal to tiki to house-made and classics, with a current favorite being the 2 Handed Shandy, blending two Duval beers with lemon, orgeat, and apricot liqueur. 7465 Melrose Ave., melroseumbrellaco.com

4. Half Step | Austin, TX
Down a gauntlet of rowdy party bars in downtown Austin sits an homage to cocktail excellence, dedicated enough to build it’s own icehouse. The Half Step bar draws its skills from the esteemed Milk & Honey bars in New York and Los Angeles, spreading the gospel and art of making some of the best three-ingredient cocktails you’ve ever had. Nerdy, yes, but the important thing is that you only have to experience the transcendence of that perfect dilution level or delicate egg-white foam in your drink, leaving the bar team to fret over the details. No food, but please, you’re in Austin. After you’ve finished your Prescription Julep, go find a food truck and order the weirdest thing on the menu. 75 1/2 Rainey St., halfstepbar.com

5. Three Dots and a Dash | Chicago
Some may wonder when America will fall out of love with tiki. But, with a line out the door most nights, it’s clear that Chicago still loves its tropical flare. Named the Best New American Cocktail Bar during Tales of the Cocktail this year, Paul McGee’s Three Dots and a Dash proudly continues the tiki legacy by serving up the often complex and always well-garnished fruity drinks at a high volume. A wall of skulls greets you before you are immersed in the island décor of neon lighting, thatched-roof bar and leopard-print seating. It's the perfect setting to enjoy coconut shrimp and crab rangoon. Illustrations on the menu will help guide you, but I would start with the classic Painkiller and see if you’re still standing after that hits you. 435 N. Clark St., threedotschicago.com

6. Kimball House | Decatur, GA
When fine dining and a cocktail program meet, disaster can often strike. But, the recently opened Kimball House in Georgia exemplifies the value of presenting drinks as as equally praiseworthy as the food. Only a few years ago, it would have been astonishing to see a place like this — offering just as many varieties of absinthe as it has beers on tap — anywhere outside of New York or San Francisco. It just goes to show how far the country has come in its appreciation for classic drinks. Try the New Tokyo, a refreshing combination of scotch and brandy with pear, yuzu and ginger. 303 E Howard Ave., kimball-house.com

7. Pinewood Social | Nashville
Who would have ever dreamed that a bar that could sling incredible cocktails would also have a bowling alley? And a pool with an Airstream service bar? Well, thankfully, Patterson House alum Matt Tocco curated a robust selection of classics, original renditions and even coffee-based cocktails that showcase the talent that America’s Bourbon Belt brings to the cocktail world. Sip a delicious Blood and Sand made from custom barrel of local Corsair Triple Smoke whiskey. Or, try the lauded District 9, made with rye, absinthe, cherry aperitif, orange and lemon juice. 33 Peabody St., pinewoodsocial.com

8. The Nomad Bar | New York City
Perhaps the most luxurious "pub” New York City has ever seen, the new two-level, mahogany-laden Nomad Bar, which sits directly next to the hotel/restaurant of the same name, has a reputation of quality by virtue of its bar team, led by Leo Robitschek. Relaxed yet incredibly attentive, the Nomad Bar has perfected every move, from the gracious welcome to the presentation of black truffle, foie gras chicken pot pie from one of the best chefs in the world. While drinking the à la minute dark-and-light spirited offerings is excellent, Robitschek upped the ante by putting a few “reserve” drinks on the menu, which feature rare vintage spirits at exceptional prices, in addition to a rotating cast of super-sized “explosion” drinks for groups. Always pushing boundaries, the Nomad will likely spark the next big trend in bars around the country, but there’s nothing like getting it at the source. 10 West 28th St., thenomadhotel.com/#!/dining/the-nomad-bar

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