Star bars

These city hotels offer great spirits and soul

Star bars

The Phoenix Hotel's Bambuddha Lounge offers a chic escape from the fog.

Noah Webb

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Glamour, romance, a jigger of danger. That's what a good hotel bar is about. Think of Brad Pitt's steamy Bogotá hookup with Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Of wistful Bill Murray sipping scotch with luscious Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation. In a good hotel bar, anything can happen, and probably already has.

A hotel bar, says Dale DeGroff, who consults as the "King of Cocktails" for hotel bars around the world, "has to have so much." Superb drinks, a world-wise bartender, but also more: a buzz, the sense that the molecules of possibility re-ionize with every sip of a mojito.

Once, hotel bars were male-dominated ecosystems. "But that's not the case anymore," DeGroff says. Heather Tapper, food and beverage manager for Santa Monica's Hotel Casa del Mar, agrees. "Women come here with a male date, but also with other women. For baby showers, for bachelorette parties."

 

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