10 Iconic American Bars

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10 Iconic American Bars
Sometimes, more than we need the cocktail trend du jour, we need a drink that’s steeped with a story. At these 10 iconic bars around the United States, patrons will get just that. Whether the night calls for a swig of champagne with the ghost of Fitzgerald or a whiskey straight-up where John F. Kennedy once imbibed, grab a designated driver and get ready to drink your way through some of America’s memorable moments in history.
By Alina Polishuk, AFAR Contributor
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    1. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
    During Al Capone’s heyday in the mid-1920s, the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Chicago was the place to be. Capone and his crew would post up in his favorite booth (which provided optimal views of both front and back entrances, naturally) to watch the venue’s jazz and comedy performances. These days, the Green Mill is more likely to be full of slam poets and musicians than Prohibition-era gangsters.
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    2. Tonga Room
    The Tonga Room, located on the basement floor of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, is a Bay Area icon in its own right. The bar has remained largely unchanged since its construction in 1945, back when sugary, umbrella-laden cocktails were the drink du jour. The Tonga Room is famed for its indoor pool, which boasts a floating stage for live music performances, and an hourly rain shower around its perimeter. Although the drinks don’t come cheap (it is in the Fairmont, after all), the lounge’s happy hour buffet and potent Mai Tais are well worth the price of admission.
    Courtesy of The Fairmont San Francisco
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    3. Vesuvio
    This narrow North Beach bar was called “ground zero” for the beatnik and bohemian movement in the 1950s. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady were among the most esteemed and creative guests at this San Francisco haunt—so much so that the street outside Vesuvio’s door was renamed “Jack Kerouac Alley.” These days, patrons can grab a book of poetry at City Lights bookstore across the way and cozy up to the bar for an Irish whiskey and a trip into the past.
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    4. Green Dragon Tavern
    Built in 1654, the Green Dragon Tavern was a favorite spot for the likes of Paul Revere, John Adams, and John Hancock. It’s rumored that the Boston Tea Party was planned here over pints, and some historians consider it to be the “headquarters of the American Revolution.” While its location has long since moved and the bar is likely to be crowded with college students and Top 40 covers bands, the Green Dragon remains a historical Boston establishment.
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    5. Chumley’s
    Chumley’s was the New York City haunt of choice for some of the city's most prolific creatives; F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Simone de Beauvoir were all regulars. Although the underground space has seen some tumult over the past century (its wall collapsed in the mid 2000s, rendering it out of use until 2016), it recently reopened under the tutelage of Bedford Street Hospitality. So these days Chumley’s is more upscale eatery than underground hangout, but its leather booth seats, clandestine entryway, and art-laden walls do well to evoke the hushed swank of its 1920s heyday.
    Courtesy of Chumley’s New York
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    6. Round Robin and Scotch Bar
    Opened in 1847, the Round Robin and Scotch Bar inside Washington, D.C.’s Willard InterContinental has served almost every president since Zachary Taylor. Its brown leather interior and framed sketches of presidents past give off a gentlemen’s club vibe, but the place is open anyone looking to enjoy Round Robin’s famous mint julep. Another icon of the place? Bartender Jim Hewes, who has been a fixture for nearly 30 years.
    Photo by Michael Kleinberg
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    7. Carousel Bar
    Carousel Bar isn’t an arbitrary name for this French Quarter institution—it’s so named for the glittery, gently rotating carousel that also serves as its primary stop for drinks. Tennessee Williams was known to frequent this place back in the day, but even without the celebrity sightings, it’s no question why Carousel Bar is a New Orleans icon. The bar does a mean Sazerac, but its signature drink is a Vieux Carre, made with Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and bitters.
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    8. Tootsies Orchid Bar and Lounge
    It’s not a classic Nashville bar without some honky-tonk, and honky-tonk is what Tootsies does best. Hattie Louise “Tootsie” Bess opened the bar’s doors in 1960. The place quickly became popular for its proprietor’s generous spirit and its reputation for nurturing some of Nashville’s hottest talent. Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Pasty Cline were among Tootsie’s early performers. These days, locals and tourists alike still flock to the place for its infamous “Apple Pie Shine” and three floors of live music.
    Courtesy of Tootsies/Facebook
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    9. The Mint Bar
    With a history over 100 years old, the Mint Bar in Sheridan has seen its fair share of cowboys sidle up to the bar a for cold beer. It’s still a hot spot for locals, but nowadays, passing travelers often stop in to marvel at the century’s worth of cowboy paraphernalia that covers its walls.
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    10. Chateau Marmont
    Nary a year has gone by since Hollywood hot spot Chateau Marmont opened in 1929 without scandal. It’s rumored that the hotel’s reputation formed its roots when Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures at the time, told two budding stars, “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” The hotel and bar have seen actors jump through windows (James Dean), comedians tragically overdose (John Belushi), and falling starlets unable to pay their $46,000 bills (Lindsay Lohan). But despite its hush-hush reputation, the Chateau remains a symbol of both the glitter and gore that Hollywood has to offer. The bar itself is currently closed, but make reservations at the hotel’s restaurant for optimal people-watching opportunities.
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