Each year, Esquire magazine compiles a list of the best bars in America — places "that you love so much you can't wait to experience (them) all over again."
Even project editor Kevin Sintumuang, Culture & Lifestyle director for the mag, said that statement is a bit of a cliche when describing what makes a bar the "best." But in light of the global pandemic, the assertion is all the more apt when applied to this year's list of 27 drinking destinations.
Of the two dozen-ish bars across America worth praising by Esquire writers and editors, only one is in Cincinnati. Three more can be found in Ohio: Happy Dog and Spotted Owl in Cleveland and Law Bird in Columbus.
The jewel in the Queen City's crown this year? Wodka Bar.
Over-the-Rhine's Eastern European cocktail lounge is extolled by Esquire's Food & Drinks editor Jeff Gordinier as such:
"The very existence of a bar devoted to vodka feels like a rebuke to all the bartenders who've scoffed at the spirit. But this spot takes the defiance a step further, offering shots of vodka infused with (among other things) mangoes and peanut brittle. Owner Sarah Dworak made her mark selling pierogies out of an actual hole in the wall, and then expanded that enterprise into Wodka Bar, whose food menu abounds with drinking snacks like kielbasa and smoked herring."
The bar is currently restructuring its indoor and outdoor dining options and hopes to announce a reopening date in July. Stay up to date on their social media and website.
Wodka Bar is located at 1200 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. More info: wodkabarotr.com.
Esquire's summer issue is available on stands but the Best Bars piece is not currently online. However, if you want to read it for free and you're a member of the Cincinnati Public Library, you can borrow it from their eBranch.
Japp's and Arnold's Bar & Grill have made previous Esquire Best Bar lists.