Best Champagne Bars

ambonnay wine barIn the July/August 2013 issue, Ruth Tobias makes the case for drinking sparkling wines all year long, especially during the summer months. There are plenty of great bottles to pop open at home (check out our buyer’s guide here), but if you feel like heading out for your next glass of bubbly, here are some of our favorite fizz-centric spots around the country.

The Visionary
A.O.C. – Los Angeles
Sommelier Caroline Styne opened A.O.C. with L.A. food darling Suzanne Goin over a decade ago, and she has consistently presented one of the best wine lists in the country ever since. The list is large, but it’s impossible to go wrong. Styne’s sparkling selections are especially impressive, focusing on sustainable, small-production, often biodynamic wines from off-the-radar, forward-thinking producers.

The New Kid on the Block
Ambonnay – Portland, OR (pictured)
Tucked away in a former warehouse in Portland’s newly buzzing southeast waterfront district is sommelier David Speer’s homage to his favorite tipple: Champagne. With six rotating glasses and a daily special, as well as an excellent grower Champagne-heavy bottle list, there are no wrong turns here.

The Wine Bar that Loves Champagne
Corkbuzz  – New York City
Master Sommelier Laura Maniec’s NYC wine bar is a haven for fizz obsessives. Maniec herself is a champion of Champagne, constantly encouraging patrons to think of it as a daily, rather than occasional, treat. She’s so devoted to it, in fact, that she has begun a “Champagne Campaign,” offering 50% off all bottles of Champagne from 10 p.m. to close every night.

The Sushi-Champagne Bar
Epernay – Denver
Boasting Colorado’s largest Champagne menu, Epernay one of Denver’s newest notable spots. The glass list features trusty favorites like Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace, while the bottle list branches out into more interesting territory with offerings like a 2006 Iron Horse Brut Rosé from the Russian River Valley and quite a few vintage magnums.

The Oyster House
Frank’s Oyster House – Seattle
An homage to the classic oyster bar, specifically those that speckle the Northeastern U.S., this cozy Seattle spot has been serving thirsty locals since 2008. Classic bubbles like Piper Heidsick and Moet are offered by the glass alongside a nice list of cremants from Burgundy, Alsace and Limoux. For those in the mood for something with more of a punch, the cocktail menu has even more options.

The Desert Oasis
Kazimierz Wine Bar – Scottsdale, AZ
Kazimierz’s wine selection is perfectly described on the menu as their version of “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” Focused on off-the-map bottles, such as a semi-sweet Sovetskoe, or “Soviet Champagne”  from Belarus and a sparkling gamay/plousard blend from the Jura, the list is challenging, exciting and encourages even the most timid to be adventurous. If the ride feels too wild, though, there’s no shortage of classic standbys, like Krug or vintage Philipponnat.

The Airport Bar
One Flew South – Atlanta
You may go to heaven, you may go to hell, but either way, you’ll go through Atlanta. Or so the saying goes. At some point, most of us will indeed likely pass through the Atlanta airport, but thanks to One Flew South, a layover has never been so enjoyable. This upscale “Southernational” restaurant has reinvented the airport restaurant with topnotch food and a beverage program to match, including a solid list of sparkling wines and even a couple of sparkling cocktails.

The Classic
Pops for Champagne – Chicago
This beloved Chicago bar, established in 1982, has a cultivated, lived-in sort of graciousness that makes bar goers feel right at home. With more than 200 Champagnes and sparkling wines, their carefully chosen and constantly changing wine list features a wide array of options for tastes and budgets of all types.

The Cocktail Drinker’s Destination
The Bourgeois Pig – New York City
Like a good sparkling cocktail? Then look no further than this Manhattan wine haven. Choose from several original sparkling cocktails and even a few Champagne punches, like the Provence Punch with elderflower liqueur, white peach, lemon juice, orange bitters and Champagne.

The Champagne Den

POP – Pasadena, CA
In addition to a solid selection of by-the-glass options and rare vintage bottles, the Champagne-centric POP has partnered with, a Seattle-based importer of grower Champagne. For just $20 above retail price, POP customers can taste some of’s more unique offerings, making it one of the best places in the country to keep up with the Champagne region’s’ latest and greatest.

The Hidden Gem
R & M Champagne Salon – Chicago
Named for the French farmers, or recoltants manipulants, who grow grapes and bottle their own bubbly, this cozy spot is hidden at the end of a small, cobblestoned alley in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Tables tend to be filled with bite-sized nibbles, and the interior is oozing with charm.

The Grower Champagne Devotee
Sigh – Sonoma, CA
An impressive glass list, featuring 23 Champagnes and sparkling wines available in 2- or 6-ounce pours sets Sigh apart. For just $6, patrons can taste the wonder that is true French Champagne, making it easy to live up to owner Jayme Powers’ belief that every day can truly be an occasion.

The Learning Post
Veritas Wine Bar – Washington, DC
Interested in trying a traditional Champagne next to bubblies from New Mexico and Virginia? With its eclectic wine list and approachable wine flight program, the ever-inviting Veritas makes that kind of sampling possible—you can even check out a sparkling wine class for a more guided tasting.

The College Town Bar, 2.0
Sparkling – Middlebury, VT
Opened in May of 2012, this small-town Champagne bar caters especially to students and professors from nearby Middlebury College looking to unwind and toast the day. Owner and Francofile Nancy Weber-Curth favors small, grower-produced Champagnes of France, as well as a plethora of excellent sparklers from around the globe.