Outfit of the Day

    Guys’ Style: What to Wear to a Cocktail Bar

    29th January 2013

    Have you ever been to a cocktail bar? Not a bar where you can get a decent Old Fashioned but the beers on tap take top billing. And definitely not the kind of bar exemplified by the movie Cocktail, where bartenders throw bottles in the air and set glasses on fire.

    I’m talking an honest-to-goodness cocktail bar, where the folks making your drinks are more dressed up than you are, and the ingredient list for any beverage is at least six items long. They’ve been “a thing” here in NYC for awhile, but I’m never sure what gets cool anywhere else. I asked Intern Gabi, and she’d never even been to a cocktail bar. Kids today.

    If you and the lady are making a classy affair of your next evening out, with a date at a cocktail bar in town, I say, dress the part. No, that doesn’t mean one of those old-timey armbands and a handlebar mustache (though I’ll admit that was the first thing that popped into my head).

    It just means, dress up your usual date night outfit by a few degrees. Swap a sweater for a tie, and the canvas sneakers for boots.

    Oh, and be sure to order something cool. Bonus points if it’s something you’ve only ever heard mentioned in movies, like a Sidecar, French75, or, if you’re feeling particularly bold, a Harvey Wallbanger. Personally, I like telling the bartender what I’m in the mood for (lately, that’s gin) and let them do their thing. They’re the experts after all. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover your new signature drink.

    The Details:
    Shirt: Frank&Oak, $45
    Jeans: Gap, $80
    Shoes: Bass, $80
    Tie: 1901, $25
    Blazer: Banana Republic, $198
    Belt: Fossil, $30

    Tell me:

    Have you ever been to a cocktail bar? What did you wear?

    • average joe

      Nice hotels will usually have a nice cocktail bar. We started going to these several years back. The ambiance is nicer, and there’s just something nice about a well made drink that isn’t all sugared down with bottled syrups and such.

      • TJ

        I know how you feel. I ordered an old fashioned at a bar the other night and they used sugar and simple syrup. It was way too sweet. Use one or the other, not both. They also used way too much bitters.

        • K to the Poon

          I’m a huge fan of the original old fashioned, with nothing more than sugar, a couple dashes bitters, a good bourbon, and lots of stirring to melt the ice. no fruits or anything added. I’ve had too many old fashioneds that have a fruit cocktail at the bottom muddled in.

        • average joe

          I’ve been ordering manhattan’s on the rocks

      • Style Girlfriend

        good call!

    • average joe

      What, no drink recipe?

      • Max

        Here is your recipe. 3/4 oz lemon juice, 3/4 oz honey syrup and 1 1/2 oz bourbon. Mix in shaker with ice and pour into a low ball glass (with ice if you’s like). Has become my favorite drink and I made a bunch for my family this past Christmas.

    • Justin Franks

      I sometimes just go suited up for the cocktail bar date. Why not play the full 1920s vibe? Just make sure you let the girl know, so she can dress at your level…

      • Style Girlfriend

        That’s a good call-out! You definitely don’t want to be on a different “dressed-up” level than your date!

        • Jeff

          Nothing wrong with suiting up! Even if you’re overdressed for the occasion, it’ll look like you’re coming from or going to somewhere more extravagant than the cocktail bar. I’ve also been breaking up my suits more often when going out. For example, I’ll wear my grey double-breasted jacket with some slim and cuffed jeans along with some monkstraps. It’s a little dressy, but the jeans and monks help convey some personality and let people know you’re not all business and stiff upper lip.

          • Style Girlfriend

            I love this attitude! Yes, suiting up is always a great option; you’ll never be sorry for being too dressed up. And that’s great that you’re breaking up your suits as well – it doubles your wardrobe!

          • average joe

            grey double breast/ cuffed jeans/ monk straps – sounds winning combo for SFOOTW!

    • Jason

      Im sorry but that is absolutly terrible fit

      • Chris Rogers

        Which item fits poorly?

      • hornsup84

        Im sorry but that is a completly vague comment

        • OnlyPossibleSociety

          Are neither of you able to spell?

          • hornsup84

            Subtle jokes aren’t your thing, are they?

    • TJ

      Never been to one. They’re cool here too I suppose but most of my friends prefer the dive bars. We have a couple brew pubs here that are popular. We’ve got two local breweries in town and they are both great. Other than that we also have a bar that is known for its beer selection. I’m talking hundreds. I really do like liquor and cocktails but I also love a really good beer.

    • K to the Poon

      Cocktail bars in the form of speakeasy/prohibition era themed bars have been pretty popular over here in the SF/Bay Area, so I’ve been to a couple. They make great cocktails, and the bartenders usually can mix something up to match what you’re feeling. I’ve gone in jeans, shirt, tie, and blazer with a pair of grey suede shoes, but I’ve also gone right after watching the Sharks play, so jeans, shirt, jersey, and canvas sneakers.

      • Brett2142

        Yeah we have a bunch of these in Austin. No vodka, only gin, etc. The bartenders make their own bitters and really are very good at their craft. And like Megan mentioned, it’s best to just describe what you like and have them pick a drink. Then tell them what you liked/didn’t like about it and they’ll use that to recommend the next one…

        This kind of bar could easily get obnoxious if the bartender isn’t cool, luckily we tend to have mellow sorts in Austin and it’s great. They also have some unusual liquors like fernet.

        • K to the Poon

          Do you have any good recommendations? I’m going to Austin in July for a friend’s wedding. Granted, I’m sure they have their college favorites from when they went to UT, but it’d be nice to go to some cocktail lounges too.

          • Brett2142

            I like Peche best, and Haddingtons. Those are both downtown, but make sure you visit the east side and SoCo too!

    • reuben

      Hey Megan, love the blog. What other pants could you wear with this jacket besides jeans? I like the jacket with jeans for dates, but if i needed to wear it to work (where jeans are unfortunately unacceptable) what would you recommend?

      • Tom H

        (I know I’m not Megan but…) you could try dark chinos.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I agree with Tom! A pair of khakis in dark brown or navy would look great with this outfit as well

    • Arden

      I have the fortune of living in Melbourne, Australia where the drinking age is 18, and where cocktail bars are aplenty in and around the CBD. As expected they range from the “interesting venue theme, but average menu/staff” to the “standard decor with excellent drinks”.

      I was able to attend a birthday celebration at a great cocktail bar just this past weekend. I was decked out in a similar ensemble as to what you suggested, but just replaced the blazer with a leather jacket.

      • Style Girlfriend

        sounds like a good look!

      • Mark

        We’re pretty lucky with bars in Melbourne. A lot of good cocktail bars popping up not just in the CDB but inner city suburbs too. Good taste Arden; I’ve done the exact same look with the leather jacket but sans tie. Also done the grey blazer (also navy) and it comes together great. I love dressing up a bit more to cocktail bars and one can’t help but feel a bit dapper when looking good and ordering a manly cocktail.

    • Jessy

      Never went to a cocktail bar. There’s none in my city.

    • Jay

      If you’re in the NYC area, try the Flatiron Room. Its almost all whiskeys and bourbons, and related cocktails, but the ambience is awesome.

    • tnreagan

      Wear this look if you’d like to look terrible.
      The belt is hideous.
      Grey blazer/jeans combo = awful. In fact, blazer and jeans just sucks anyways.
      That tie and that shirt is a no go, and the shoes are kinda ugly too.

      Usually you post very simple, most of the time sensible stuff. This is awful. Mad corny.
      The problem with this site is your concept of men’s fashion doesn’t seem to go past chukkas and dark wash jeans. I have a feeling I’m not in this blog’s demographic, but I hope your readers up their knowledge past the stuff you post.

    • Matt S.

      When I was in Brooklyn, I used to hit some of the ‘mixologist-type’ bars up quite a bit. The Counting Room. Hotel Delmano. Death & Company in NYC. I always felt very “Mad Men’ in there so I tried to dress up. I usually hit all the items you mentioned except the tie. If you’re drinking a classy drink that cost $10, 5 minutes to make, and has nothing but liquor in it, why not get a little dressed up.

    • Brett2142

      There’s no better time than for SXSW in March…lots of fun and usually not hot (though it’s 85 today so who knows)