Whiskey. The nectar of the gods. Seldom a word in the English language exists that gets our blood pumping as much as that sweet, sweet word. Whiskey. And when you hang it on a door outside a brick building, or on the flier to a party invitation, or even on the entry gates outside Hell itself, we’re immediately drawn to it.
Which brings us to the current topic of discussion… Whiskey bars. All whiskey bars are great whiskey bars, but which ones are the greatest, and what makes them so? Well, we compiled a list of the top ten in the country, based on things like vibe, décor, history, and—most importantly—selection. Here are the 10 best whiskey bars in the country. Now drink up! It’s good for you.
The 404 Kitchen
Perhaps one of the most “modern” inclusions on this list, The 404 Kitchen, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is actually made from a 40-foot shipping container that was repurposed into a bar and placed adjacent to the swanky 404 Hotel.
We like it for its beautifully done décor, but we love it for its thoughtfully well-done selection of over 150 superb whiskies. Irish, American, Japanese—they’re all here, and more. If all that boozing works you up an appetite, definitely check out the menu here, too. The food is mind-bogglingly good. Link
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Jack Rose Dining Saloon is the 100-percent real deal. Aside from their absolutely gorgeous décor that includes an open-air terrace, a wood-paneled tasting cellar, and a beautiful all-wood dining “saloon” with pressed-tin ceilings, this place has 1,800 bottles of whiskey. No, that’s not a typo. Oh, and we forgot to mention the menu includes cigars. Hot Goddamn! Link
Canon is a whiskey bar like no other. Outside of stellar brick-and-wood décor (by the way, each piece of wood in the entire joint has been masterfully stained with angostura bitters) and an awesome menu, this place has the largest selection of American whiskey in the Western Hemisphere. Of its more than 90-page spirit menu, at least nine of them are filled with rare whiskies. NINE FUCKING PAGES. If heaven in a bottle is what you seek, you’ll surely find it at Canon. Link
Look up any American whiskey bars list written in the last five years, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t include this Northeast institution. Pre- and prohibition-era décor is Saloon’s MO, and it really does it well. Everything from semi-hidden stairwells, to dimly lit wood-and-brick everything, to a stellar cocktail menu featuring excellent modern drinks and all the classics—you’ll find it here. But the Saloon makes this list because of how much time and care went into its massive selection of over 120 whiskies, including all the good stuff—Yamazaki, Notch, Basil Hayden, Four Roses, and many, many others. Saloon keeps it simple and serious, and that’s just the way we like our whiskey. Link
New York, NY
If you’re a whiskey nerd in New York and you’re reading this article, you were probably waiting to bust our asses for not including Highlands on our list. Well, well, well, you drunk smarty pants, don’t you feel like an idiot?!
This scotch-centric bar in the West Village has a superb display of just about every whisky out of Scotland ever worth drinking. Over 250 bottles in-house, all hand-selected by their Beverage Director, provide patrons with one of the most extensive scotch lists in the entire country.
All that, coupled with a wonderful staff and delectable modern Scottish fare makes Highland a hell of a place to sit back, relax, and enjoy a couple. Link
The Pope House Bourbon Lounge
Oregon might be about 2,000 miles away from Kentucky, but you’d never know it upon walking into The Pope House Bourbon Lounge in Portland. Hundreds of hand-selected Kentucky-style bourbons line the walls, and each one of them was hand-selected by the bar’s management. Rare top-shelf stuff, classic favorites, and even new discoveries abound at Pope House, and even though it can get a little busy on the weekends these days, it’s still worth its weight in bourbon. You can even sign up for a class on bourbon if you’re looking to learn how to appreciate a pour of the good stuff. Link
Haymarket Whiskey Bar
Haymarket is billed as the only punk rock bourbon bar in Louisville, Kentucky, and we’ll be damned if that doesn’t sound like a helluva good time. They host live music four nights a week, adorn their walls with vintage memorabilia, and even have a few old pinball machines dinging around. Cool shit aside, Haymarket made our list because not only do they have over 100 bourbons and 200 whiskies to choose from, but they also have 15 moonshines. The real deal, too—not the bullshit corn swill you’ll find at your basic liquor store. Link
Los Angeles, CA
Seven Grand is a no-bullshit, real-deal whiskey bar in the City of Angels. They offer 120 bottles of some of the world’s finest brown, lined across the bar’s “International Wall of Whiskey,” with selections everywhere from American bourbon to Japanese whisky. The bar offers rare gems like Bushmills’ 1608 Anniversary bottle, to untouchable 55-year-old single malts you probably won’t find anywhere else. Link
The Silver Dollar
Yes, you’re hearing that right—we put together a list of the country’s top 10 whiskey bars and we included two from one comparatively small city. Why? Because this is America, God damn it, and Kentucky is a whiskey lover’s Mecca. The Silver Dollar is located in a renovated old firehouse (complete with pole), and features nothing but Kentucky whiskies, bourbons, and ryes. There’s just something perfect-soundin’ about a glass of Four Roses Single Barrel and some honky tonk records to soothe the soul. Link
Delilah’s makes the list for its massive selection of over 600 different whiskies—including its own house-bottled bourbon, rye, and scotch. They have whiskies from over 15 countries, as well as a wide array of American whiskies covering a vast range of styles and eras. Oh, and they also play a lot of punk rock, alt-country, and even have DJ nights, movie screenings, etc. Think dive bar with impeccable taste in boozery, and even then, you’ll only barely touch on what Delilah’s is all about. Link