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Museums are awesome. They just are. It doesn’t really matter what kind of museum it is either—art, history, natural science, or something super weird we love them all. But there is one thing that can make visiting a museum, or just about anything, even better: a delicious cocktail.
We're rounded up five of the best museum restaurants, cafes and bars from around the country to help you find the best spot to grab a drink before or after (or both!) checking out the exhibits.
1. Halcyon, Located at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC
Its full name is “Halcyon Flavors From the Earth,” so you know this restaurant is going serve up lots of seasonal, farm-fresh fare. Located among the art exhibits in the Mint Museum Uptown, this dining area offers a wide range of specialty cocktails that partner nicely with outdoor seating and city views. Choose from appropriately named options made with fresh herbs and ingredients, like the “Essence of Thyme,” “Beet Drop,” or “‘Pears’ Well With,” to get your night started right.
2. Untitled at the Whitney Museum in NYC
The Whitney Museum of American Art was founded and named after Gertrude Vanderbilt-Whitney, whose maiden name should be a clear sign that the cocktails at the museum’s restaurant are going to be properly bougie *and* properly boozy. The "Biennial" is a refreshing concoction of gin, honey, lemon, and Macari, best enjoyed on the outdoor deck at the 8th floor cafe. And did we mention famed restaurateur Danny Meyer runs the show? It's definitely world-class.
3. In Situ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
We always expect great cocktails from the city that invented the martini, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art doesn't disappoint. Check out In Situ, an exhibition restaurant in the museum with a rotating collection of chefs and influencers to keep the menus fresh. Current offerings include “The Old Cuban,” made with aged rum and sparkling wine, and the “Fibber McGee,” with vodka, Amaro Montenegro, and grapefruit, but check for updated menus before you visit (or don’t, and just be pleasantly surprised.)
4. Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago
Located in a beautiful space in the Modern Wing of the art institute, Terzo Piano offers delicious cocktails (like the "Renzo Piano" with basil-infused house vodka, meyer lemon limoncello, housemade lemon-mint syrup, and soda) plus breathtaking views of the city. If you get hungry, there’s plenty to choose from—the kitchen is under the control of James Beard Award winner Tony Mantuano.
5. Rays and Stark Bar at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
LACMA members can enjoy 10 percent off at this namesake of film producer Ray Stark, but everyone can enjoy the extensive list of outstanding cocktails waiting to be ordered. Choose from sections of frozen, shaken, stirred, aged, draft, shandy or specialty cocktails, like the "Urban Light" made with pisco, rose water, lemon, and berries, to get in the perfect spirit (ha) for a little art appreciation.
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