From the East to West Coast—and nearly everywhere in between—Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) chefs are no strangers to America’s restaurants. They’ve been recognized for leading fine-dining kitchens, food trucks, small neighborhood establishments, fast-casual concepts and popular pop-ups. Whether they’re cooking food inspired by their own cultural backgrounds or riffing on Cajun or California cuisine, the awards and accolades keep pouring in.
Today, a growing number of AAPI-owned cocktail bars are garnering similar respect. A class of bartenders trained in Japanese bartending techniques—many of whom worked at New York City’s Angel’s Share in the East Village—have gone on to open their own spots. They’ve published books and won James Beard Awards. They’re mixing and shaking drinks that range from classic martinis to more creative drinks incorporating traditionally Asian ingredients like ube (purple yam) or White Rabbit candy (a milk-based soft candy).
From upscale speakeasy-inspired bars to more dive options, here’s where to raise a glass at some of the best AAPI-owned and operated bars in America.