NYC’s Attaboy Named No. 1 Bar in North America

The first-ever North America’s 50 Best Bars list was counted down at a live awards ceremony in New York on June 7.

NYC’s Attaboy Named No. 1 Bar in North America

Attaboy is known for its bespoke cocktails.

Courtesy of Attaboy

The mood on Tuesday night inside Capitale, a downtown Manhattan venue, was jovial, celebratory, and downright giddy at times as bartenders from across North America gathered for the first-ever awards ceremony of North America’s 50 Best Bars.

New York City’s Attaboy snagged the number one spot, making the hometown crowd explode in cheers.

As founders Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy and star bartender and general manager Haley Traub took the stage, Ross quipped, “It just says winners speech on the prompter and I’m like, woah that’s us!” After the three gathered their thoughts, Traub dedicated the award to all the bartenders present, saying, “We’re only as good as we are because of the rest of you pushing us to be the best.”

Celebrating its 10th anniversary later this year, Attaboy carries the torch of Milk & Honey at that iconic bar’s original Lower East Side location, where Ross and McIlroy apprenticed under the late bar legend Sasha Petraske. The absence of any cocktail menu has been a hallmark of the bar since opening, which allows guests to chat with the bartenders who then create a bespoke drink for them.

“You choose to come to these venues to hang out and have a good time, and cocktail menus can often be a bit of a bit of a bummer,” said Ross at the press conference following the ceremony. “Instead of looking at a 27-page cocktail menu, you have a chat to us, and we essentially go to the section in the cocktail menu that you’re looking for. You give us the trust, and hopefully with the number one bar in North America, we get a bit more trust.”

Attaboy has been named to the World’s 50 Best Bars list every year since opening, and earned the Rémy Martin Legend of the List 2021.

Attaboy is located on Manhattan's Lower East Side on Eldridge Street between Broome and Delancey Streets.

Attaboy is located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side on Eldridge Street between Broome and Delancey Streets.

Courtesy of Attaboy

Winners of North America’s 50 Best Bars were chosen based on the votes of more than 220 voters, made up of anonymous North American bar industry experts, including bartenders, bar owners, and drinks media from the USA, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. And while NYC claimed 11 spots, it’s hard to escape the fact that bars from across Mexico kept being called out, as the country also landed 11 slots—and each time, the crowd erupted in boisterous cheers. Mexico City managed to nab six awards, including two of the top three, which went to Handshake Speakeasy (No. 2), which was also named the Best Bar in Mexico and was number 25 on 2021’s World’s 50 Best Bars list, and Licorería Limantour (No. 3). At the press conference following the ceremony, Eric Van Beek from Handshake Speakeasy pointed to the markets of Mexico City as providing the inspiration and literal ingredients for its inventive cocktails.

Canadian bars were also well represented, with the country getting eight awards, including Toronto’s Civil Liberties coming in at number 10, which also earned the Best Bar in Canada, and Halifax’s Bar Kismet (No. 49), which was named the Ketel One Sustainable Bar. Bartender and social justice champion Christina Veira of Toronto’s Bar Mordecai (No. 47) was honored with the Roku Industry Icon, awarded to the person who has done more for the progress of the bar industry than any other individual.

The Caribbean had a smaller presence, with just two winners. La Factoría from Puerto Rico was crowned the Best Bar in the Caribbean and got the 12th spot on the list, while El Floridita in Havana, Cuba, came in at number 40. Carlos Irizarry from La Factoría said at the press conference after the awards, “It’s an honor to be part of the global conversation.”

The U.S. had a strong representation, which is not surprising given it’s the largest country in North America and a hotbed of mixology innovation. In addition to New York City’s 11 awards, Miami and Los Angeles each claimed three spots. Chicago’s Kumiko came in at number 5 and got the Best Bar in the Midwest award and Washington, D.C. got on the list at number 18 with Service Bar. Raised by Wolves in San Diego claimed the 19th slot and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South came in at number 24. Two locations of Death & Co made the list, at numbers 36 for Denver and 34 for Los Angeles. The original NYC location was noticeably absent.

In addition to Attaboy getting the top spot, other NYC winners included Katana Kitten (No. 4), whose bartender Masahiro Urushido also earned the title of Altos Bartenders’ Bartender; Dante (No. 8); Double Chicken Please (No. 17); Amor y Amargo (No. 23); Dear Irving (No. 26); Overstory (No. 27), which also won the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award; Employees Only (No. 30); the Dead Rabbit (No. 31); Mace (No. 35), which also received the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu; and Clover Club (No. 43).

The full list of North America’s 50 Best Bars:

  1. Attaboy, New York
  2. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
  3. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
  4. Katana Kitten, New York
  5. Kumiko, Chicago
  6. Café La Trova, Miami
  7. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
  8. Dante, New York
  9. Thunderbolt, Los Angeles
  10. Civil Liberties, Toronto
  11. Zapote Bar, Playa del Carmen
  12. La Factoría, San Juan
  13. Kaito del Valle, Mexico City
  14. Sweet Liberty, Miami
  15. Café de Nadie, Mexico City
  16. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
  17. Double Chicken Please, New York
  18. Service Bar, Washington, D.C.
  19. Raised by Wolves, San Diego
  20. Sabina Sabe, Oaxaca
  21. El Gallo Altanero, Guadalajara
  22. Selva, Oaxaca
  23. Amor y Amargo, New York
  24. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
  25. The Keefer Bar, Vancouver
  26. Dear Irving, New York
  27. Overstory, New York
  28. Herbs & Rye, Las Vegas
  29. El Pequeño Bar, Montreal
  30. Employees Only, New York
  31. The Dead Rabbit, New York
  32. Broken Shaker, Miami
  33. Friends and Family, Oakland
  34. Death & Co., Los Angeles
  35. Mace, New York
  36. Death & Co., Denver
  37. Arca, Tulum
  38. Mother, Toronto
  39. ABV, San Francisco
  40. El Floridita, Havana
  41. Bar Raval, Toronto
  42. Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu
  43. Clover Club, New York
  44. Bitter & Twisted, Phoenix
  45. Cloakroom Bar, Montreal
  46. Julep, Houston
  47. Bar Mordecai, Toronto
  48. Teardrop Lounge, Portland
  49. Bar Kismet, Halifax
  50. Genever, Los Angeles

>> Next: 7 Boozeless Bars Around the World for Sober Travelers

Devorah Lev-Tov is a Brooklyn-based food and travel journalist who has been published in the New York Times, National Geographic, Vogue, Bon Appetit, and more.
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