• Paulius Nasvytis

In late 1996, just when a treacly pink juice box known as the Cosmopolitan was beginning to be thought of as the apex of sophistication for Manhattan drinkers—and long before Chicago bartenders were brewing their own bitters and squeezing their own juices—a bar opened in a onetime barbershop and speakeasy on the sleepy edge of Cleveland’s residential Tremont neighborhood, and set an impossibly high standard for classic cocktails.

I’ve certainly not drunk in all of the hallowed temples of neoclassical and interpretive mixology that have opened across the country since then, but I’ve been to enough to know that The Velvet Tango Room has upheld its commitment to bibulous purity like no other.