4 Types of Bars (and What to Order)

When it comes to the world of drink, we think Dionysus would be pleased with America’s diversity. Now, the way Americans drink – compared to the way the Ancient Greeks drank – may be a little different, but our culture carries on “the ritual of madness” in its own way.

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Here, in America, there truly is a bar for everyone. You can search the country high, low, and in between, and you’ll find a drink and a price point to meet just about any budget. Whether you prefer to drink beneath a Tiffany lamp or fly-buzzed fluorescent piece of plastic, you can find a home somewhere.

In addition to having a rich classifying system for our bars, Americans have developed many diverse cocktail recipes. America is both a cultural and alcoholic melting pot, drawing spices and fruit juices from around the world, as well as various kinds of alcohol from the nation’s stills and brewhouses.

Having spent an evening or two in bars around the country, here are four of our favorite bar styles (and what to order):


It doesn’t get much more American than the dive bar. Whether you’re in New York City or Ypsilanti, Michigan, you’re guaranteed to find a dive bar. Most of these establishments only serve beer – and do so with pride. If we’re traveling, we always enjoy checking out some of the region’s local beers, when available.

Raspberry and Lemon Martini


You don’t hear the term “fern bar” used too much anymore. Popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, “fern bars” overtook the seedy, dive bar image. Middle and upper-middle class singles would gather in “fern bars,” to drink cocktails and meet others. In fact, the lemon drop – one of our favorite drink recipes – was developed at a fern bar in San Francisco (Henry’s Africa).


Speakeasies are coming back into fashion all around the country. Many of these bars even go as far as to require passwords from customers and forego signs for their establishment. If you’re looking for a great cocktail recipe, then you’re more likely to come across one in a speakeasy than anywhere else. Speakeasies tend to feature really unique ingredients, as well. Maybe you’ll find a cocktail with elder flower syrup in a speakeasy near you!

Tiki Bar

Tiki bars can be a little kitschy at times. But, sometimes, when you’re on vacation… it just doesn’t matter. If you find a tiki bar that serves up a good Mai Tai, then don’t let it fade from your memory. Great Mai Tai’s are one in a hundred!

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