Most bars in America can pour a decent bourbon—it’s the country’s quintessential spirit, after all. But that doesn’t necessarily make them great bars for the bourbon obsessed.
What distinguishes a great bourbon bar from the throngs of watering holes out there, then? To our mind, it’s a thoughtful selection of bottles on offer, bartenders who know their stuff and love to talk about it, and an ambience that encourages lingering over an intriguing pour, whether that’s wood-paneled luxury from another era or a laidback contemporary vibe. With those criteria in mind, Pinhook’s well-traveled staff assembled this list of great bourbon bars throughout the United States (like Bourbon on Rye, pictured above). Road trip, anyone?
(Added bonus: Most spots on the list carry at least one Pinhook bottle.)
Travel Bar Brooklyn, NY
A true neighborhood spot with roughly 200 bourbons available for tasting, plus a must-try selection of whiskey cocktails that have been batched and barrel-aged in house.
520 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY | travelbarbrooklyn.com
Lucky Day Buffalo, NY
In a space that transports drinkers instantly into the Art Deco era, vest-clad bartenders look the part, and also know their way around the menu of over 200 whiskeys (and a food menu that compliments the vibe).
320 Pearl Street, Buffalo, NY | luckydaywhiskeybar.com
The Crunkleton Charlotte, NC
This beloved spot reveres the history of spirits and cocktails. In addition to an expansive list of contemporary and classic bourbons, a menu of “antique spirits” includes bottles distilled and bottled in the 1910’s through the 1980’s.
1957 E 7th Street, Charlotte, NC | thecrunkleton.com
Flatiron Room New York City, NY
This Manhattan spot specializes in a rarefied drinking experience against a backdrop of bygone elegance and civilized live music. Staff “whiskey guides” are on hand to help patrons navigate more than 1,000 whiskey bottles on the menu.
37 W 26th Street, New York, NY | theflatironroom.com
Barrel Proof New Orleans, LA
You can keep it casual at one of the more unpretentious whiskey bars on this list. The bartenders will be as happy to oblige a Maker’s order as they will something obscure plucked from the 350-bottle strong whiskey menu.
1201 Magazine Street | barrelproofnola.com
Grape & Grain Jacksonville, FL
This two-part space–half laid-back storefront bar, half intimate lounge–let’s you pick your ideal atmosphere in which to discover a new favorite pour. The storefront part means that you can buy a bottle to take home, as well.
2000 San Marco Boulevard | grapeandgrainexchange.com
Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar Covington, KY
A tiny bar with an expansive bourbon selection just across the state line from Cincinnati. At more than 700 bourbons and counting, you’d be hard-pressed to find a spot in Kentucky or beyond with a more thoroughly curated menu.
629 Main St, Covington, KY | oldkybourbonbar.com
Bourbon on Rye Lexington, KY
In a charmingly preserved historic downtown space, the bourbon menu features hundreds of pours, plus curated bourbon flights (including the $26 “Pinhook Flight”)—a great way to sample and compare expressions.
115 W Main Street, Lexington KY | bourbononrye.com
Gertie’s Whiskey Bar Nashville, TN
Tucked below the 404 Kitchen Restaurant (the menu of which is available at the bar), patrons sit around a horseshoe bar (which is the best kind of bar) enjoying pours from a whiskey menu that includes a number of exclusive single barrel offerings.
507 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN | gertieswhiskeybar.com
Delilah’s Chicago, IL
It might look, sound, and smell like a dive-y rock club, but it's also one of the first–and best–dedicated bourbon bars in the country, pouring from a strong selection since 1994.
2771 N Lincoln Avenue | delilahschicago.com
Julep Cocktail Club Kansas City
Anyone who appreciates the mint julep enough to base their cocktail bar on it gets points in our book. The bourbon cocktails here are truly something special, sitting alongside an extensive whiskey menu.
4141 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kansas City | julepkc.com
Merle's Whiskey Kitchen Louisville, KY
Fair prices can be hard to find at the kind of bars that dedicate themselves to revering bourbon. Not so at Merle’s. We love the impressive collection of exclusive single barrel offerings, and the soul food and frequent live music are big bonuses.
122 West Main Street, Louisville, KY | merleswhiskeykitchen.com
Raised by Wolves San Diego, CA
An elaborate secret entrance transports one from a suburban mall into an insanely sumptuous space in which to sip the rare bourbons, renowned bourbons, and exclusive single barrel bourbons that the place has become famous for.
4301 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA | raisedxwolves.com
Legionnaire Oakland, CA
A two-level bar proving that serious bourbon bars don’t have to take themselves seriously–the karaoke, live music, jukebox, and pinball machines make sure of it.
2272 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA | legionnairesaloon.com
Canon Seattle, WA
Often referred to as a shrine to whiskey, the descriptor fits, with bottles lining shelves literally from floor to ceiling and a whiskey collection running into the thousands–including some offerings that are well over 100 years old. The cocktail menu more than holds its own.
928 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA | canonseattle.com
Batch Tucson, AZ
A whiskey bar is not so rare at this point. But a whiskey and donut bar? This is the only one, but it's not as strange as you’d think–each donut comes with pairing suggestions from among the 850 bottles on the whiskey menu.
118 East Congress Street, Tucson, AZ | batchtucson.com
Rickhouse San Francisco, CA
With walls and ceilings built from decommissioned whiskey barrels from Kentucky, it’s safe to say that bourbon is in the bones of this spot. Bartenders show equal enthusiasm for the whiskey menu and mixing perfect cocktails.
246 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA | rickhousebar.com
Seven Grand Los Angeles, CA
This is a proper, classic bourbon bar in the purest sense, and home to the “Whiskey Society,” a membership program that brings together drinkers, experts, and connoisseurs to expand their whiskey horizons with tastings and other events.
515 W 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA | sevengrandla.com