Has anybody better described the pleasure of having a cocktail in a perfectly appointed bar as the evening begins? Chandler wrote about his love of cocktails and cocktail bars in his 1953 book The Long Goodbye, but little has changed all these years later. A perfect cocktail in a perfect setting is still one of life’s great joys. That’s why we at Restaurant Hospitality celebrate beautifully made cocktails each year with this contest. And, once again, the response has been terrific, with hundreds of dazzling cocktails submitted for entry. Selecting winners is not easy, but our guiding force centers specifically on two points—creativity and balance. Based on so many entries, it’s not so easily achieved. What you’ll find on the following pages are cocktails that hit the bullseye. They are the cocktails that make us wish we were sitting next to Raymond Chandler having the first drink of the evening in a quiet bar. How wonderful! Without further ado, here are this year’s winners of the Best Cocktails in America Contest.