With drink menus creative enough to rival some of the top craft cocktail bars in the country, museums are becoming the place to imbibe—regardless of whether you’ve taken in the exhibits. From sophisticated to sexy and contemporary to kitsch, Wine Enthusiast gives you the top five unique museum bars.
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
Exhibition-inspired cocktails are the concept at this modernist bar. Using a recent showing of Paul Gauguin’s works as its muse, one of Taste’s most requested cocktails has been the Hiva Oa, made from hot pepper vodka, mango purée, basil leaves and fresh lime. With Taste’s artful installation of cocktails priced at a cool $9 each, you’ll breeze away from the bar with enough clams for a down payment on a Ruscha.
The Petrie Court Café and Bar
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
The MET beholds many secrets, but for oenophiles, there’s one particular standout. Tucked behind a slightly obscured entrance, the elegant Petrie Court Café transforms from an à la carte lunch spot into a grand European-style bar on Fridays and Saturdays—just before dusk when the views of Central Park come alive. Take in a quartino of Chardonnay, such as Joseph Drouhin’s Vero from Burgundy, or sample some of the best local wines with the Taste of New York flight.
Mr. Rain’s Fun House
American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore
Tour the spectacular offbeat art at the American Visionary Art Museum, a museum that feels aptly like stepping onto the set of a John Waters film, and be sure not to skip Mr. Rain’s Fun House. Part speakeasy, part sideshow, this bar delights with artisanal cocktails and a vast selection of international wines and small-batch beers. A crowd favorite mixed drink from the menu is The Miller’s Daughter—a unique libation of oat-infused Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch, Yaegaki Nigori Sake, peach preserves, earl grey tincture and fresh lemon.
Ray’s and Stark Bar
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
With a drink list divided into signatures that celebrate Ray Stark’s films, this chic restaurant and lounge is a must visit. Many of Stark’s featured cocktails get treated to tinctures, syrups, fruit juices and flower extracts made using flowers culled straight from the museum’s garden. Frequents favor the Night at the Museum, made with CapRock Organic Gin, Aperol, Lillet Blanc and fresh rose geranium, which fragrantly blooms mere steps away.
OralFix Aphrodisiac Café
Museum of Sex, New York City
Revel in the Museum of Sex afterglow with a bit of bacchanalia. OralFix , the museum’s aphrodisiac bar, experiments with the sanguine effects of tailor-made elixirs. Sip the Caligula’s Dream with caution—inspired by Dionysus’s thyme-scented house, it’s generously dosed with thyme-infused pisco and spiked with sarsaparilla to increase both estrogen and testosterone levels. For alcohol-free libations, the bar also offers house-infused seltzers made from fruits and herbs said to inspire charm and lusty curiosity.