America’s Best Whiskey Bars

Courtesy of Jack Rose Dining Saloon

We all want to visit a bar where everyone knows our name—but what if we went to one where everyone knew our favorite spirit? Whiskey bars, which offer that luxury, are growing in popularity and have become a welcome alternative to neighborhood tippling spots and upscale wine lounges. Visitors can get a taste of classic Southern spirits in a laid-back environment, discovering unique pours that have been around since Prohibition. Whether you’re sipping a bourbon cocktail at Seattle’s Rob Roy or enjoying a whiskey on the rocks at D.C.’s Jack Rose Dining Saloon, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the classic American spirit. Here are our picks for America’s best whiskey bars.—Emily Wasserman

Courtesy of Delilah's

Delilah’s

WHERE: Chicago

Punk rock meets hipster hangout at Delilah’s. The offbeat Chicago venue hosts DJs and heavy metal nights, and it displays work from local artists on the walls. Guests can sit back in green vinyl bar stools and sip a glass of rye, or browse an extensive menu of spirits. The bar features more than 600 whiskeys from 15 countries, as well as house-made bottles of bourbon, rye, and scotch.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Chicago Guide

Courtesy of Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

WHERE: Washington, D.C.

Stepping into Jack Rose Dining Saloon is a whiskey lover’s dream. Walls are lined with more than 1,500 bottles of spirits, and guests can enjoy a drink in multiple venues: The bar’s main level boasts mahogany chairs and a polished wooden bar, while the upstairs area offers an outdoor terrace and laid-back atmosphere. Travel downstairs to the saloon’s whiskey cellar for private tastings of rare, antique whiskey.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Washington, D.C. Guide

Courtesy of Spirited Ventures, LLC

Seven Grand

WHERE: Los Angeles

Los Angeles’s Seven Grand takes its whiskey seriously: The bar features an “international wall of whiskey” with selections from North America to Asia, and a “Whiskey Society” meeting with tastings hosted by master distillers. True to its name, the bar also offers a sampling of rare, top-dollar spirits: Visitors can sip on a glass of Jameson Vintage 2009 for $55, or opt for a 55-year-old single malt Scotch for a cool $1,200.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Los Angeles Guide

Garces Group

Village Whiskey

WHERE: Philadelphia

It's all in the name at Philadelphia's Village Whiskey. The speakeasy-style bar serves up more than 80 varieties of the spirit—neat, shaken, or stirred. Cocktails combine traditional ingredients with contemporary flavors, including themed creations like the “Commodore” with bourbon, orange bitters, and lime, and the “Philadelphia Fish House Punch” with dark rum, sweet apricot brandy, spiced sugar, and aromatic tea.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Philadelphia Guide   

Rickhouse

WHERE: San Francisco

San Francisco’s Rickhouse is usually packed to the brim, and for good reason: The bar’s sky-high shelves of liquor, stunning wood interiors, and live music make it the perfect place to enjoy a drink. Whiskey is the beverage of choice, and guests can sample artisanal cocktails made from all-natural ingredients. “Rye Maple Fizz” includes rye, lemon, maple syrup, and egg white while “La Bonne Vie” combines Plymouth, fresh lemon, grapefruit juice, and basil.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's San Francisco Guide

The Pope House Bourbon Lounge

WHERE: Portland, Oregon

Traditional Kentucky-style bourbon forms the backbone of Portland’s Pope House. The bar hand-selects its bottles from Kentucky distilleries and also offers an extensive spirit list with rare, top-shelf liquors. Visitors can also enjoy the bar’s “Bourbon Derby” program, which allows guests to sample 50 varieties of bourbon. Successful entrants receive a horseshoe as a prize.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Portland Guide

Courtesy of Sanctuaria Wild Tapas

Sanctuaria Wild Tapas

WHERE: St. Louis

Best known for its tapas, Sanctuaria is quickly making a name for itself as a popular whiskey bar. Mixologist Christopher Sanders whips up custom cocktails with house made liqueurs and bitters, and he creates a rotating menu of inventive, seasonal drinks: “Bardstown Mule” features Evan Williams Whiskey, Campari, orange juice and giner beer; “Millionaire Manhattan” includes Booker's Bourbon, Carpano Antica, Angostura, and orange bitters. Guests can also enjoy “tickles & jiggers,” small one- or two-ounce pours of any of the bar’s whiskeys and bourbons.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's St. Louis Guide

Paul Wagtouicz

Ward III

WHERE: New York City

Founded by three journeymen bartenders, New York City’s Ward III elevates cocktail-making to an art form. The upscale lounge features dark, understated interiors and a menu with an impressive range of bitters, spices, and spirits. Popular pours include the bar’s eponymous cocktail “Ward III,” with Heaven Hill Bourbon, Angostura Bitters, and cinnamon; and the “Asylum” with Asyla Whisky, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth. “Bespoke cocktails” allow guests to customize their drinks: Browse categories such as spirit, texture, and spice to create a unique flavor profile.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Guide

Whiskey Kitchen

WHERE: Nashville, Tennessee

For warm Southern hospitality and a diverse collection of spirits, look no further than Nashville’s Whiskey Kitchen. The brightly-lit bar and restaurant serves up some of the best tipples the South has to offer, including George Dickel No. 8, Woodford Reserve, and Big Dog Blackberry. Adventurous drinkers can opt for one- or two-ounce pours, or try one of the bar’s whiskey concoctions: Favorites include the “Maple Manhattan” with Four Roses and maple syrup, and the “Marmalade Whiskey Sour” with Bernheim Wheat Whiskey and orange marmalade.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Nashville Guide

Tommy Johns

The Silver Dollar

WHERE: Louisville, Kentucky

Located in the heart of bourbon country, The Silver Dollar features “whiskey by the drink.” The popular bar and music venue boasts an extensive menu of spirits, ranging from hard-to-find Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-aged reserve bourbon to White Lightning rye. Whiskeys are organized by distillery, so guests know the origins of their drinks. But don’t expect to see any Tennessee-based spirits: The bar keeps its focus on in-state distilleries, showcasing the area’s best bourbon.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Kentucky Bluegrass Country Guide

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Bluegrass Tavern

WHERE: Lexington, Kentucky

In a region known for its bourbon bars, Bluegrass Tavern is a cut above the rest: The bar features more than 230 bourbons and whiskeys, including rare, hard-to-find bottles like Single Barrel Secretariat or Four Roses Limited Small Batch. While top-shelf bottles run around $200 per ounce, visitors can also find more affordable pours like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark. Classic drinks are made with care, and guests can sip a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned while chatting with knowledgeable bartenders.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Kentucky Bluegrass Country Guide

David Cabrera

Yardbird Southern Table and Bar

WHERE: Miami

Fried chicken, biscuits, and booze are just a few of the things you’ll find at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. The Miami restaurant and bar conjures up images of a Southern honky-tonk, featuring bourbon that would please the most discerning bootlegger. House cocktails are served in Ball jars, and guests can choose from more than 75 varieties of bourbon. Popular drinks include the “Bloody Yardbird” with bacon-infused bourbon, house-made jerky, and pickled okra, and the “Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade” with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, organic blackberry, and Cardamom.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Miami Guide

Courtesy of InterContinental Hotels Group

Bourbon Bar at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta

WHERE: Atlanta

Hotel bars usually leave something to be desired, but the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta’s Bourbon Bar is a welcome exception. The small watering hole boasts an impressive collection of rare liquors and displays its bottles on shelves above the bar. Guests can order a bourbon flight to sample different pours, or try Southern-inspired cocktails made with private-barrel whiskey: “Georgia Fizz” features Jefferson’s Private Barrel, merlet peach, and orange juice, while the “Boulevard du Pecher” combines private barrel with BBQ and rhubarb bitters.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Atlanta Guide

Andreas Larsson

Longman and Eagle

WHERE: Chicago

The philosophy at Longman & Eagle is “whiskey for your mouth, not for our shelves,” and the bar doesn’t disappoint on that front. The hip Chicago gastropub offers 148 bottles, 38 of which are available for daily tasting. Guests can purchase a shot for $3 or opt for a themed whiskey flight: “Worldly Grains” takes visitors on a tour of whiskeys from around the world while the “L&E” showcases some of the bar’s favorite bottles. Don’t miss the pub’s handcrafted rye cocktails—the “Word Find” features Rittenhouse Rye, green chartreuse, and cherry essence.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Chicago Guide

Chad Pryor

Rob Roy

WHERE: Seattle

Step back in time at Seattle’s Rob Roy: The bar’s pre-Prohibition style interiors, dim lighting, and warm-red tones create a mellow atmosphere, and visitors can relax with a drink on plush leather couches. Popular cocktails include the “Colonel” with bourbon and apricot liqueur, and “Leaf & Silo” with bourbon, Cocchi Americano, and Branca Menta.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Seattle Guide

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