Not that long ago, bartenders would boast about their well-rounded selections of spirits and ability to make practically any drink you could order. But there’s now a generation of single-minded establishments that are dedicated to just one type of liquor. These highly specialized bars usually offer tasting flights and a range of cocktails made with their signature alcohol. Just remember not to order too far off the menu.
Bourbons Bistro, 2255 Frankfort Avenue, Louisville, Ky., 502 894 8838:
If you open a bar or restaurant in Kentucky, you’d better have an impressive bourbon list. The aptly named Bourbons Bistro doesn’t disappoint with 130 different bottlings, plus a number of other American whiskies. Can’t make up your mind? Try one of the themed bourbon flights.
Caña Rum Bar, 714 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, 213 745 7090:
Rum has recently become a favorite of mixologists and connoisseurs, and, befittingly, a monument to the liquor opened in downtown LA last March. Caña has an exhaustive selection of spirits from around the Caribbean and expertly made cocktails created by general manager Allan Katz. (The bar is technically a private club, with a $20 annual membership fee.)
While there are many establishments with huge tequila and mezcal collections, one of the best is in Midtown Manhattan. La Biblioteca de Tequila stocks 400 different spirits and even has a tequila sommelier to help you make a decision. Customers who buy a bottle can store it in one of the bar’s lockers for up to six months for free.
Mayahuel, 304 East 6th Street, New York, 212 253 5888
Mixologist Phil Ward has proven that people don’t just want to drink tequila by the shot or Margarita. His cozy East Village bar Mayahuel offers an oversized menu of delicious cocktails made with agave-based spirits. The drinks are so good that last summer Mayahuel was named the world’s best new cocktail bar at the Tales of the Cocktail convention.
Nihon Whisky Lounge, 1779 Folsom Street, San Francisco, 415 552 4400:
For a Scotch fan, the rows and rows of bottles behind the bar at Nihon (pictured above) can be breathtaking. At last count, there were almost 200 single malts from Scotland, plus blends and whiskies from around the globe. Nearly all of the spirits are available by the taste, glass and bottle.
Red Square, 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, 702 632 7407:
To find a well-stocked vodka bar, you have to go to Red Square. No, not the one in Russia, but the watering hole in Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Casino. It even has a bottle-service room with more than 200 different types of vodka that’s kept at a frosty 10 degrees below zero. And that’s not to mention a long list of vodka cocktails and infusions, which can be enjoyed at a more comfortable temperature.
(Image courtesy of Hideki Owa)
Looking for more great watering holes? Check out our bar guide for the best bars in the world.