Jack Maxwell's Top 5 Whiskey Watering Holes
Celebrate World Whisk(e)y Day with a glass of the good stuff at one of these locations.
With the "e"? Without the "e"? No matter how you spell it, it's time to celebrate this long-loved liquor. In honor of World Whisk(e)y Day — Saturday, May 20 — our resident alcohol expert, Booze Traveler's Jack Maxwell, breaks down the best places to grab a glass in the U.S. and across the globe.
Authentic Place to Drink Irish Whiskey:
The Dead Rabbit — New York, N.Y.
It may be cliché to talk about drinking whiskey in a joint named Best Bar in the U.S. (2016) but this place is legit. I love it for two reasons: One, it has the largest Irish whiskey collection in America. Two, it's not the least bit pretentious considering the distinction. They know their stuff and will walk you through the inventory. Pretty sure they'll have lots of bottles of whiskey you've never heard of. And besides, who doesn't love a REAL Irish whiskey bar? No leprechauns and shamrocks on the walls here.
Great 'Don't Judge a Book by its Cover' Whiskey Bar:
Twisted Spoke – Chicago, Illinois
If you like to drink whiskey in a place you'd never think would have a great selection, try Twisted Spoke, or just The Spoke, as the locals call it. It's a combination neighborhood bar/biker bar — that's right, biker bar — and the decor is just stuff that customers have brought in over the years that owner Mitch Einhorn has put up on the walls. Eclectic or strange? You decide. Either way, the whiskey selection will blow your hair back, with over 400 different types. From top shelf to rare Japanese whiskeys, you won't be bored with the choices. You'd never know from the outside they were such whiskey lovers. Also, ask [bartender] Sean about his famous Manhattan.
Fun Place to Ease into the Whiskey Drinking Experience:
ViewHouse — Denver, Colorado
They have a drink here called the Whiskey Kiss that's really nice and a good introduction to drinking whiskey if you're inexperienced. The fact that it's in a game bar makes it better. No whiskey snobs around to pass judgment. It has several floors and a ton of game space right next to Coors Field, where the Rockies play. The name is not misleading. It's got one of the best views of Denver in the city.
Wonderful Bar That's Only Sort of a Bar:
Kilbeggan Distillery — County Westmeath, Ireland
Now, you might think with all the great Irish pubs in this country that I'd recommend one of those — and you really couldn't go wrong — but how cool is it to drink in the oldest distillery in Ireland? Founded in 1757 by John Locke, they'll give you a tour while you're sipping one of the many whiskeys they make on site. You'll get a wonderful sense of old Ireland and maybe an appreciation for how hard they worked back then as you're walking around the giant machines that kept this place humming and the whiskey flowing.
Best Place to Drink the World's Best Whiskey Poured by the World's Best Bartender:
Bar High Five — Tokyo, Japan
Be warned: It's a small little bar with not many seats in a nondescript building. However, if you can get there, you should. Mr. Ueno was named World's Best Bartender and you'll see why. Japan, more specifically Suntory, has won World's Best Single Malt Whiskey. Put those two together and you won't be disappointed. You shouldn't be, anyway. Where else are you going to have that? The experience is truly sublime. I was taken aback by how much care he puts into making his drinks, and his concentration when he's doing it. He just loves when you love his cocktails. The punchline? He doesn't drink. Ask for a White Lady or a Japanese Garden.
Happy World Whiskey Day!