Best Bourbon Bars

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.

Char No. 4, New York:

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.

Delilah’s, Chicago:

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.

Proof on Main, Louisville:

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.

Rickhouse, San Francisco:

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.

Village Whiskey, Philadelphia:

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.

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  1. Bridgett says

    This list is not complete without The Patterson House in Nashville.

  2. Paul Paletti says

    You included bars with only 50 kinds of bourbon in this listing? I have that many at home! Of course, I live in Louisville, where we have several exceptional bourbon bars in addition to Proof on Main, such as Bourbons Bistro, St. Charles Exchange, and Doc Crow’s.

  3. Chili Bill says

    F.X. McCrory’s in Seattle. Usually about 150 bourbons on hand.

  4. Little disappointed that you didn’t mention us with one of the best selections in the world:
    (not to take away from all of those other great bars though)

  5. Canon in Seattle, WA has at least 200 some dating back to during prohibition.

  6. Evan Wallace says

    You missed the premier Bourbon bar in world: Canon in Seattle. Jamie Boudreau’s year-old shrine to American Whiskey lists around 400 Bourbons on the Captain’s List, with over a hundred rare finds in the $250-$1000 per shot range, many from the prohibition era.

  7. What about Bourbon’s Bistro in Louisville? Over 100 different bourbons!

  8. I find this to be a fairly incomplete list… there have to be dozens of distinctive places in Louisville and other parts of Kentucky. Matter of fact, Whiskey Review listed a bunch in their most recent publication.
    What about Bourbon House in New Orleans? How about Port Royal/The Cove in Baton Rouge? Whiskey Bar in Denver, CO?

  9. Amanda La France says

    You missed Whiskey in Durham, NC. While North Carolina is off most people’s radars, this amazing little bar has amassed one of the largest Bourbon collections on the East Coast. Check it out!

  10. Sorry, I meant Whiskey Advocate.

  11. Greg Schwartz says

    Proof on Main has excellent housemade Ginger Ale which goes great with some Wild Turkey 101.

  12. Jeff Carter says

    I’d have to say my favorite bourbon bar is Carter’s Corner, Milton, WV….my man-cave. We put in the bar about 7 years ago and have been featuring all different ‘flavors’ of bourbon…having tastings for friends and family. We have over 25 bourbons (28)… Pappy 15 year, Lot B 12 year, Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year in 90 and 107, George T. Stagg 140.6 proof, Eagle Rare 17 and 10 year, Elmer T. Lee, Blanton’s, Rock Hill Farms, Willett, Basil Hayden, Knob Creek, Makers Mark, Makers 46, Wild Turkey, Rare Breed, Kentucky Spirit, Buffalo Trace, W.L. Weller 7 yr., 12 yr., 107 Antique, Woodford Reserve, Woodford Oak Finish, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, Fighting Cock, and Jim Beam. By far, my favorite is Van Winkle 12 yr. Special Reserve – Lot B…..but all bourbon is gooooood. Just neat… water, no ice…. (except George needs one ice cube). God’s gift to mankind.

  13. Mitch Einhorn says

    It is not a complete list without the Twisted Spoke in Chicago, Chicago’s best Bourbon bar for the last 17 years.

  14. Strange you’ve omitted America’s largest whisk(e)y bar: Jack Rose in D.C?

  15. Thomas Teague says

    You forgot Mac McGee in Decatur, Ga. They have over 400 whiskeys and age there own mini barrel series. There has to be over 100 bourbons, not exactly sure, but it is a crazy selection.

  16. Vincent Favella says

    What about Ward III in TriBeCa, NY?

  17. Terry Welker says

    The Century Bar, A Bourbon House, Dayton, Ohio. Over 65 bourbons and a full raft of American and Canadian whiskeys!

  18. Aero club bar in san diego has 600 whiskeys

  19. Don’t forget the Brandy Library in the NYC Tribeca area.
    But yes , I have more and probably rarer bourbons than most of the places in the article at home too.
    No wonder I don’t get out as much as I used to.

  20. Thank God for the commenters on this post because there are plenty of great bourbon bars that weren’t mentioned above.

  21. Olle Lundberg says

    HardWater, San Francisco

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