Unwinding in a hotel bar might be an act of comfortable convenience. If you are a weary traveler, it is surely the shortest distance from your drink to your bed. If you are lucky, you will find yourself ensconced at the likes of Dandelyan at the Mondrian on London’s South Bank, or Sable Kitchen & Bar at the Hotel Palomar in Chicago, where well-made drinks served amid swanky surroundings promise memorable imbibing experiences for locals and itinerant interlopers. But not everyone holed up in a hotel for the evening has the luxury of discovering a lauded cocktail bar just off their lobby.
Still, says Abigail Gullo, head bartender of Compère Lapin at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in New Orleans — among those revered lairs turning out tipples like the bourbon-apple brandy Louisville Slugger with chicory and smoked vanilla — it’s possible to drink well at a hotel bar. With a sharp eye and a few friendly questions, a joyful night can be yours.