Find Out Bartenders’ Dream Drink Destinations

Bartenders work hard. They stand behind bars for long shifts, mixing, shaking, and crafting amazing, swoon-worthy, Instagrammable cocktails. They love their jobs, but many are stuck working at the same bar in Tampa, Kansas City, LA, or New York and don’t get much of a chance to see other parts of the world. But, when they do get away, they want to go somewhere with a great cocktail scene, so they can learn and drink their way through whatever country they decide to visit. But, what countries are they? We asked 13 bartenders to tell us the countries they’d most like to drink in and this is what they told us.

Em McManus, Director of Food & Beverage at Beach Bar | Restaurant in Tampa

“Portugal. As fortified wines and sherries in cocktails grow in popularity, I’d love to go there to explore their roots. I also love a vino verde and would want to drink my way up and down the coast.”

 Walker Pickering, Bar Manager at Crafted at NOSE DIVE, in Greenville, SC

“It’s a close call between Japan and Iceland. I have a feeling they can quench the adventurous side of things in Japan. Iceland just seems like a wonderful place to find unexpected love.”

Brock Schulte, Beverage Director for The Monarch in Kansas City

“As long as I had a translator/guide, I’d really like to go to China/Asia I have a great respect for the process in which they make cocktails and make drinking a part of their culture.”

Brice Peressini – The Victor in Vancouver

“Without a doubt, Japan, and to be more specific, a neighborhood called Shinjuku in Tokyo. Shinjuku is comprised of hundreds of 5-6 seat intimate cocktail bars, most with no menus, all bespoke. This style  of experience is one of the things  I love most about cocktailing and I want to see it first hand. I have a huge amount of respect for Japanese bartenders and the attention to detail which they bring to the craft. So meticulous, like sushi chefs with shakers.”

William Frost, Head Bartender at Blue Harbour in Tampa

“If I could go anywhere, it would be Italy because of the amount of variety of wonderful alcohol, especially amaros, from Cynar to Tuaca. I love the idea of aperitifs and digestifs and the depths of flavors across the board is unparalleled. Each region has their own specialty. Add the Italian wines into the mix and… all I can say is Chin Chin.”

Michael Torres of Scroll Bar Waterside Kitchen in Redwood City, CA

“I would go to France. I’d start off in the Champagne region and end up in Bordeaux but hit the Rhône Valley, Loire Valley and Burgundy. There’s such a vast variety of wines and history in France with so many world-class Chateaus that have been around for centuries. Not to mention amazing food to accompany those world class wines. There’s so much to taste!”

Morgan Zuch, Beverage Director of Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa

“Scotland for sure! I would love to learn more about the various regions the whiskies are produced in, and how that affects the flavor profiles of each one.”

Bar Manager Jenn Harvey, Bar Manager at Temple Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Probably Denmark, which I went to this past summer. They have some great craft beers, and a great restaurant scene in Copenhagen. They seem to have fun with it and not take it too seriously; while still having seriously amazing food and drinks.”

Eric Tschudi, Sommelier/Head Bartender, Shuko (New York, NY) 

“Our neighbor to the south, Mexico. The drinks are cheap, the tacos are cheap (everything is cheap with the exchange rate!), the people are warm, friendly, and family-oriented with no expectations or pretensions. The mezcal and tequila options are both incredible and incredibly affordable. Post up at a beach bar in Tulum – ask the bartender to pour his favorite mezcal, grab a fish taco from a vendor nearby – and you’re in a place that’s pretty hard to beat. One of our favorite spots is the Mulberry Project’s small pop-up beach bar at La Zebra hotel in Tulum.

Ruben “Ben” M. Chavez, Mixologist at 3Eleven Kitchen & Cocktails in Dallas

“Definitely Fiji. It is a bartender’s dream to have that caliber of freshness and variety for ingredients, which makes it that much easier to craft a tasty cocktail. Another plus? Fiji is the hotspot for interacting with its natives and embracing their culture.”

Jesse Mychal Smith, bartender at Old Major in Denver

“A place called Smile Tree. It’s in Turin, Italy. The main barman Dennis Zoppi started out as this wicked “flair bartender” who took that skill and mixed it with the whole craft cocktail evolution. This guy has the ability to combine movement with the knowledge of making craft cocktails at high levels, in short, it’s the perfect machine. A discipline compensates for the other, and both create a new trend, a new style of entertainment. So this is where I’d go grab a drink.”

Renato Brignardello, Bar Manager at Telefèric Barcelona Walnut Creek, CA

“Oh Spain, definitely Spain, mostly because of the sheer variety. Also, after working with them for so long and learning about their cuisine and culture I grow more and more curious about them.”

Tenzin Samdo, Bar Director/Partner at Café Artscience in Boston

“Dubai. It is one of the only countries that I haven’t been to and I’m intrigued by the residents’ willingness to pay for just about anything. I dream of creating a mind-blowing, over the top cocktail that utilizes the resources of the region. The spice market is insane and the access to fresh fruits is appealing. I’m also inspired by the architecture of the city and its closeness to the dessert. You can be in nature one minute and a huge developed city the next.”