Locating bourbon-centric bars across ‘Merica is easy when it is the nation’s native spirit. While we would love to hit them all in one roundabout, it would be impossible to talk about every great bourbon bar nationwide. So, we skillfully narrowed down the top five spots.
Bottle and Bond
Among 100 acres of active farmland at Bardstown Bourbon Company lies Bottle and Bond, a full-service culinary experience where elevated comfort fare accentuates the flavors and character of bourbon whiskey. The on-site bar and restaurant (with floor-to-ceiling distillery views) presents a first-class craft cocktail program, vast bourbon selection, and vintage spirits library, curated by renowned whiskey author, Fred Minnick.
Pay them a visit to kick off a noteworthy afternoon or evening in Bourbon Country. Asborb years of dedication, care and craftsmanship poured into a whiskey bottle.
Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House
New Orleans, LA
Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon, with Louisiana being its second home. It was New Orleans who serendipitously helped develop the barrel-aging process of the bourbon we enjoy today.
In the 1820s, bourbon was in high-demand in New Orleans with almost 2.5 million gallons of the clear liquid or “white dog” being shipped downriver from Kentucky. To prevent any contamination during the five-month expedition, each delivery barrel (former fish or nail storage) was pressed into action and charred inside to contain the white dog. Kentucky distillers discovered that the whiskey was taking on a caramel color and delightful taste due to the duration and char contact within the barrel. Hence, the critical aging process applied to bourbon production today.
History aside, top restaurateur Dickie Brennan was intrigued by New Orleans’ bourbon connection and wanted to pay homage to the native spirit at Bourbon House on Bourbon Street. Pouring over 250 (mostly rare and hard to find) American whiskeys, Bourbon House is home to the city’s lengthiest bourbon list and famed “Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch” made with milk, gelato, nutmeg and of course, bourbon.
It is also the official home of the New Orleans Bourbon Society (NOBS) – a spirited society dedicated to the appreciation of fine bourbons. No pressure or anything.
Fine & Rare
New York, NY
(Fine) food and (rare) spirits – Fine & Rare is a must for live jazz performances, New American small plate offerings and off-the-wall whiskey cocktails. Served up, “Easy Does It” is crafted with a private stock, single-barrel Eagle Rare bourbon, bittersweet Campari, fresh orange, lemon and lime juices, and frothy egg white. Pick on raw bar items or cheese and charcuterie in a group-friendly, I mean, Covid-friendly booth while absorbing timeless sophistication.
“Liquor lockers” are available for frequent guests who wish to store their prized bottles on-premise. Cool, huh?
Bourbon & Banter
The striking speakeasy-style bar is cleverly accessed* via faux telephone booth and boasts having the best bourbon selection (and worse “Dad” jokes) in Dallas. Bourbon & Banter is found beneath the significant Statler Hotel in a former beauty salon. Grab a stool and have a bartender give you a “Buzz Cut” or a “Pompadour,” which is actually a bourbon Old Fashioned with a brûlée top that you personally crack with a tiny hammer before imbibing.
*To enter, you must request the evening’s password at the front desk first. Then, proceed downstairs, pick up the phone in the booth, and punch in the secret code. The doors will swing open granting you access to real amusement.
Multnomah Whiskey Library
Like a literal library, Multnomah’s whiskey collection ebbs and flows with time; changing tastes and or interests of their guests. It spans globally and represents on-going traditions and cultures of countless regions. Simply compare bourbon whiskey from the same land (or the same stills for generations), or explore a pour from a young, innovative producer rewriting the rules of distillation.
The cozy upstairs lounge welcomes all to gather and celebrate (under coronavirus restrictions). Sounds of swirling ice cubes, clinking glasses, and moving bar carts bounce off the exposed brick walls garnished with over 2,000 bottles.
Based in NYC, Alana Tielmann is an expert writer and brand educator of wine and spirits. Her words live in Chilled Magazine, Thirsty Media, Tales of the Cocktail, and elsewhere. She also makes an annual appearance in Forbes, as well as impressive whiskey cocktails at home. Follow along @alanatielmann.