Great Bars: Neat, Mother's Ruin, And Brick & Mortar

Bars for the everyman

For every action, there is a reaction.

In the world of drinks, that action has been labor-intensive and pricey cocktails. The corresponding reaction has been Buds on a bed of crushed ice.

The pace of elaborate mixology isn't slowing: one just-launched example, the technological whimsy at New York's new Booker & Dax. But a handful of highly reputed bartenders are now challenging this trend, opening bars that focus on the simple and understated.

Aidan Demarest electrified Los Angeles's cocktail scene over the past five years. Then last year he opened Neat, which forgoes mixing altogether, serving thimbles of top-shelf booze with only a complementary back of such beverages as ginger beer and Coca Cola.

Mother's Ruin, an unprepossessing bar from Breslin and Má Pêche alums in New York, keeps a slushie machine running even during the winter months and also serves Micheladas–a can of Tecate with a salted lip and a rim doused in Tabasco.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Brick & Mortar is staffed with some of the city's best bartenders, including Misty Kalkofen, formerly of Drink. Here, the specialty is strong, stirred, three-ingredient cocktails and cheap beer on ice.

Give simplicity a try at home with this two-step, superstiff cocktail (click here to see the recipe).