No matter if you frequent dive bars or fancy faux-speakeasies, bourbon is generally in plentiful supply. But some establishments go even further, boasting massive collections of the whiskey and offering an array of cocktails calling for it. So whether you like it neat, on the rocks or in a mixed drink, you need to check out these watering holes, all of which are perfect for celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month.
A quick look at the staggering selection of bourbon bottles (around 100) sitting behind Char No. 4’s bar should tip you off that you’re in the right place. This Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, eatery (pictured above), whose name is a term for the level of charring on the inside of a barrel, also features hearty entrees and refreshing elixirs.
Beloved punk-rock joint Delilah’s has been a Lakeview mainstay for nearly two decades. Besides a DJ, pool table and Donkey Kong machine, you’ll also find an exhaustive assortment of bourbons, numbering 150 at last count. Drop by on a Saturday when $3 Four Roses shots and Chang Thai lagers are paired with jukebox tunes.
Making a pilgrimage to Kentucky? Start with a visit to Proof on Main, in the arty 21C Hotel, and partake of one of the restaurant’s bourbon flights. I recommend the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers tasting, which includes samples of small-batch brands Kentucky Vintage, Rowan’s Creek and Noah’s Mill. Or while away the evening by sipping a delicious cocktail.
With a moniker like Rickhouse, you’d better know your whiskey. And this San Francisco stalwart certainly does. (The ceiling is even covered in barrel staves.) Grab a seat in the cozy back room to enjoy one of its 50 bourbons or have an expertly prepared concoction at the bar.
Seven Grand, Los Angeles and San Diego:
At either the original LA location or the San Diego outpost, you can choose from among more than five dozen bourbons. That’s not to mention creative libations made with the spirit like the Herschel Vine (Seven Grand Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon, rhubarb and fig bitters). Keep an eye out for Seven Grand’s special house bottling of Fighting Cock Bourbon, available now in LA and soon in San Diego.
Day and night, celebrity chef Jose Garces’ Rittenhouse Square spot is packed with patrons eager to have a glass of one of the more than 60 bourbons with a juicy house-made-Thousand-Island-dressed burger. The bartenders also fix a mighty fine Old Fashioned with Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond.
Alia Akkam is a New York-based writer and managing editor of Hospitality Design.
Looking for more great watering holes? Read One for the Road: Bourbon Bars, Part II for more of the best bourbon bars in the country. And check out our full bar guide for the best bars all over the world.