Top Cocktail Bars In Connecticut

October 17, 2013 8:00 AM

(Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images )

Had a hard day at work and need a little refresher before heading home? Or want a nice drink to start – or finish – a night at the theater or on the town? How about a before-dinner libation to whet the appetite and relax? Here are five great bars in Connecticut to get that special cocktail.

The Russell
103 Pratt St.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 727-4014

There are few places more romantic, more comfortable and more private to share a cocktail with someone than Hugh Russell’s multi-storied bar and club on Pratt Street in Hartford. There is a big, grand bar on the first floor and a patio bar with tall windows on the ground floor, and both are great for those who crave the noise and lively atmosphere of a club. For those seeking to getaway from all of that, there are quiet little alcoves with soft chairs and softer sofas tucked away here and there in the mezzanine, and these areas are ideal for more intimate moments. Come for open mic or live music nights and loosen up with a few drinks before hitting the dance floor – or just cozy up in a corner with something to sip, and pretend, like Russell suggests, that you are in a classy old beach hotel in the islands.

Tequila Mockingbird
6 Forest St.
New Canaan, CT 06840
(203) 966-2222

The tequila bar at Tequila Mockingbird is a full-service cocktail bar, but one that specializes in preparing drinks containing the liquor for which it is named. It is bright, happy and fun, and is meant to lighten dark spirits and bring a smile to frowning faces. With a dizzying list of more than 170 brands and types of tequila and mezcal to choose from, most customers tend to trust the bartenders to pick the ingredients for the perfect concoction. The bar’s go-to drink is the “Original,” which is made with a silver tequila, although for an additional two dollars, Tequila Mockingbird will happily substitute a patron’s favorite tequila.

Dish Bar and Grill
900 Main St.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 249-3474

Ashley, Justin and the famous Nick Salerno are the Three Wise Men (or two wise men and a wise woman) of the Hartford mixology scene. Nick’s signature drink is the espresso martini, or “Espressotini,” which he makes with fresh-brewed espresso, Stoli vanilla vodka, Crème de Cocoa, Tia Maria and a vanilla citrus liqueur known as Tuaca. Another favorite drink at Dish is the hot and dirty fruit-infused vodka martini, which is made with vodka that has been infused with habenero chili peppers. Dish is a beautiful, elegant, old-school cocktail bar with a modern flair. It is very popular for the before- and after-theater crowd, and as manager Ann Kendall notes, the bar fills up quite quickly during happy hour, even on a Monday.

Kelly’s Restaurant & Bar
196 Crown St.
New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 776-1111

Looking for a cocktail bar with Irish pub flair? Kelly’s in New Haven is the place to go. Bartender Jeanne Badiola makes a great hot toddy that she says is guaranteed to warm you up on a cold evening, and her egg nog martini is a holiday treat that keeps many a customer coming back for more around Christmas. Her muddled pear cocktail, made with bourbon, white vermouth and a muddled (smashed up) pear, is a uniquely sweet treat.

Related: Top Tasting Menus In Connecticut

Cambridge House Brew Pub
357 Salmon Brook St.
Granby, CT 06035
(860) 653-2739

Who says a happy hour drink has to come with an umbrella? To many a good man (or woman), a beer is a cocktail, and there are few better places to find great beer in Connecticut than at the Cambridge House Brew Pub. Regulars can join a club and have their brew served in a personalized mug (which is filled once, for free, on “Mug Club Wednesdays”).

Related: Top Sangria In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at

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