For those who drink, sleep, and breathe whisky, here’s a little help with the “sleep” part. Hotel whisky bars across the country are aspiring to more than just convenience, creating exceptional whisky menus to satisfy even the most discerning customer. In fact, there’s even a Whiskey Hotel in the works for L.A.—seven stories of whisky-themed accommodations complete with rooftop bar and minibars in each room. That grand opening is a few years away. But rest easy: these impressive spots provide more than enough to slake your thirst. They’re so good you’ll want to book a room so you can come back for more the next day. Nightcap, anyone?
ORDER ULTIMATE WHISKY ROOM SERVICE
Gertie’s Bar at the 404 Kitchen, 404 Hotel—Nashville, Tenn.
Walk into Gertie’s and sit on the bar’s right side for the best view of its 500-plus whiskies. They include rare finds like the Classic Cask Macallan 21 year old single barrel (less than 300 bottles released) and a number of small-yield Willett bourbons—plus hand-picked private barrel selections and an impressive array of vintage verticals, including all five batches of Knob Creek 15 year old. In the mood for a cocktail? Try the brown butter-washed bourbon Old-Fashioned. And before someone calls a technicality (yes, the bar is across the street from the 404 Hotel, not in it), consider that leaving the hotel isn’t necessary to take advantage of this vast selection: the staff will gladly have a bottle sent to your room or a glass waiting for you upon arrival.
MEET NEW PEOPLE ON THE ROAD
1791 Whiskey Bar, George Hotel—College Station, Texas
There are no TVs here—the 1791 wants patrons to talk, not stare. The surrounding decor offers plenty of conversation starters: a 2,700-bottle whisky chandelier, a floor-to-ceiling-books Texas flag installation, and a herd of sheep statues that moves around like the farm version of Elf on the Shelf. Adding to the social atmosphere are regular pop-up tastings and live music every Friday and Saturday night. Pull up a seat at the bar and chat up a friendly bartender. He or she will wax poetic on the 250-plus whiskies, including harder-to-find varieties like W.L. Weller 12 year old and Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 24 year old. Or ask for a one-of-a-kind cocktail using any number of house-made or infused liquors—the bartenders are encouraged to play.
SIP SOME WHISKY AL FRESCO
Dirty Habit, Hotel Zelos—San Francisco, Calif.
Tucked away on the fifth floor of the hotel awaits Dirty Habit, an intimate venue with an exceptional whisky list. Choose from more than 500 varieties, including rare and vintage finds like a pricey 32 year old Laphroaig ($300 per 2-ounce pour) or a Glenfarclas 40 year old ($110). Keep it local with California labels (Slaughterhouse) or explore flavors from unexpected countries like Mexico (Sierra Norte) and Australia (Sullivans Cove). Or be really adventurous and ask for the dealer’s choice for an off-the-menu specialty cocktail. Throw in some homemade charcuterie or sweet soy chicken wings too—just be sure to enjoy it all on the gorgeous rooftop patio. Pick a clear, sunny Monday or Tuesday afternoon for best results—there’s no wait and no reservations needed.
RELIVE GREAT MOVIE MOMENTS
The Whiskey Bar at the Cascades Restaurant, Stanley Hotel—Estes Park, Colo.
The “haunted” hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining also houses a scary-big whisky selection. With nearly 1,100 whiskies and counting, the list (more like a book) includes a 41 year old Bunnahabhain, a 25 year old Willett single-barrel rye, and a bottle of The Last Drop 50 year old blend. Order up the bar manager’s favorite cocktail: Rosemary’s Baby, a refreshing take on a Blood and Sand, with rosemary syrup. Dumb and Dumber fans can pull up a seat in the center of the bar where Lloyd sat in the movie. Otherwise, head straight for the patio to savor your whisky by a fire pit and enjoy an incredible view of the Rockies.