One Size Fits All

Bars expand their horizons

"Niche" has been the name of our drinking game for the last few years.

We delighted as watering holes with established and focused agendas opened. Some were devoted to a single spirit, others to reconstructing a forgotten cocktail style. 

That trend is certainly not abating. But on the trend's heels is an equally exciting counter movement: the bar with a multiple personality disorder.

Take Tradition, the brand-new bar in San Francisco.  Dedicated to the United States' drinking traditions, the bar has menu sections–and physical areas called "snugs"–that are dedicated to a variety of bar types, such as the dive bar and the Big Easy. Here, myriad cocktail styles coexist under one roof.

In New York, the months-old Daily eschews a menu in lieu of a roll-the-dice method in which five different cocktail recipes are picked daily from a weathered Rolodex. The bar might channel island vibes one night only to embody the pre-Prohibition spirit the next.

And the just opened Barwares in Portland, Oregon, dodges pigeonholes with vaguely named cocktails–The Sake, The Gin, The Tequila, for instance. One version of The Whiskey takes shape as a garam-masala spiked old-fashioned (click here to see the recipe).

Time to widen those horizons.