There are few chaps in the men’s lifestyle game whose word carries as much weight as that of David Coggins. He’s weighed in on menswear, design and travel for the likes of Esquire, the Wall Street Journal and Conde Nast Traveler (among others), and has written not one, but two New York Times bestselling books, Men and Manners and Men and Style. Not to mention the fact that he’s been kind enough to let us pick his brain on occasion, giving us his take on everything from justifiable style splurges to made-to-measure polos.
So naturally we were well chuffed to hear he’d launched The Contender, his very own site focusing on the worlds of travel, style, drinking, fishing, etc.
“I wanted to write about my interests,” Coggins tells us, “and I wanted to have those stories in one place.”
Regarding those interests, few are more well versed in the art of globetrotting and the insider intel that comes with it than Coggins. “I’d love [The Contender] to become a travel resource.” he says. “I’d like to build up an archive that helps readers find everything from where to drink in Tokyo to which tailors to visit in Naples. I also want to share stories about fly fishing, whether it’s bone-fishing in the Bahamas or trying to catch trout in Patagonia.”
And the drinking?
“Well, I love to travel and I love to drink, so it’s no surprise that I love to drink when I travel. I think finding a great bar when you’re abroad is a wonderful pleasure. You can be alone and watch people or read or write and enjoy being in a new place trying the house specialty.”
Duly noted, and got us thinking: a guy who’s made his living popping in and out of watering holes around the globe no doubt has more that a few recommendations that we’d like to catalogue for later libational use. Below, five of his favorites, along with what you should order should you ever get the chance to darken their doors.
Bar Suzuki — Tokyo, Japan
How he found it: “I’m not sure exactly. I’m embarrassed to say it might be because I liked the logo. It’s in Ginza, which is not exactly a thrilling neighborhood but has some incredible bars.”
What he loves about it: “It’s on the fifth floor or something like that, which is typical of bars in Tokyo. It’s a small room (also typical) and doesn’t seem to have changed since the 1970s, though it’s imitating the 1950s. A lot of dark wood paneling. Possibly a little more cigarette smoke than you want, but what can you do?”
What to order there: “I either get a Japanese whisky that’s hard to find in America, like a rare Hibiki blend, or whatever their special is — you know it’s going to be good.”
La Crèmerie — Paris, France
How he found it: “I heard about it somehow and it has a lovely façade.”
What he loves about it: “This is a wine store and wine bar that also serves food. It’s got a wonderful relaxed setting, there are about six tables and four seats at the bar. They serve a few small dishes — you can get a bottle of wine to go, but I stay and try a lot of different things.”
What to order there: “Natural and biodynamic wines. I ask for something unusual. They are happy to help.”
Banzarbar — New York, NY
How he found it: “It’s the new upstairs bar at Freemans, which is run by my friend Taavo.” (Ed. note: Coggins is referring to famed NYC restaurateur Taavo Somer, with whom he also co-wrote an excellent book that your correspondent is proud to have gracing his coffee table.)
What he loves about it: “It’s a small bar — I should say I love small bars. It’s easy to have a real conversation, it’s intimate (you need a reservation). The décor is great, it might be described as colonial Dutch (but more fun than that!).”
What to order there: “They have a seasonal menu, I look for something with gin and know it will be good.”
Chez Jay — Santa Monica, CA
How he found it: “One of the only viable dive bars I’ve found in LA. If you know a good one, let me know.”
What he love about it: “An incredible old low-key bar with red and white tablecloths and a mysterious dish called Steak Sinatra. I like a bar that’s full at 11 a.m. on Sunday.”
What to order there: “An average Bloody Mary or a bad beer.”
Monte Carlo — Minneapolis, MN
How he found it: “My hometown. I’ve been going there since before I could drink.”
What he loves about it: “A Minneapolis institution. They serve good food in a lovely dining room. But the bar is great, famous for having hundreds of bottles of liquor.”
What to order there: “A good Bloody Mary, which comes with a beer back, as local tradition dictates. Otherwise a Scotch will get the job done.”
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