5 Great Whisky Bars With Live Music

In music, as with whisky, there’s no accounting for taste. Fortunately, there’s a whisky destination for every type of music lover, from hard rock to hip-hop, from singer-songwriters to DJ sets. With great whisky on the bar and dynamic performers on the stage, these venues make it possible to pair your scotch with some rockabilly or sip bourbon with the blues. Choose carefully and enjoy your dram and your jam in perfect harmony.

This article was originally published in December 2019. COVID-related restrictions may affect some of the opening times and offerings of these venues, so check in advance of a visit.

Jazz and rare whisky

The Flatiron Room—New York City
Within the dynamic whisky list featuring more than 1,000 expressions of bourbon, rye, Scotch, Japanese, Irish, Indian, and Taiwanese whiskies lurk old and rare bottlings like Ardmore 30 year old cask strength and Balvenie 40 year old aged in European oak. Live performers playing mainly jazz, swing, and blues take to the spotlight nightly, as diners huddle at intimate tables to bask in the sultry tones, while nibbling on small plates or heartier fare like honey fried chicken with salt and vinegar potato salad and a buttermilk biscuit.

World music and world whisky

Finn’s Manor—Denver
This cozy cocktail den in the city’s River North Art District boasts around 400 whiskies. An impressive list of blended and single malt scotch is rounded out with curious world whiskies, including Navazos Palazzi single malt from Spain ($16). Live bands and DJs keep the party popping with an eclectic mix that includes Arabic guitar; salsa; downtempo funk, soul disco, and house; and Afro-Cuban tunes. Among the whisky cocktails is the Caloosahatchee—made with Angel’s Envy bourbon, dry curaçao, tangerine, lemon, and bitters. International riffs on the Old Fashioned include an Irish with Kilbeggan rye and a French with Armorik single malt.

Indie rock and seasonal whisky cocktails

Union 50—Indianapolis
Located in the buzzing Mass Ave cultural district, this chef-driven bar and restaurant features live music several nights a week, with singer-songwriters and road-hardened bands playing a mix of folk, funk, soul, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, and more. The list of around 100 whiskies ranges in price from a $7 pour of Wild Turkey rye to $50 for WhistlePig The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve. The seasonal cocktail program highlights bold, bright flavors in drinks like The Limit Does Not Exist—Rittenhouse rye with smoky rhubarb amaro and a touch of Giffard Crème de Mûre blackberry liqueur.

Country, blues, and small-batch bourbon

American Whiskey Bar at Saloon #10—Deadwood, S.D.
This old-timey saloon in a historic gold rush town is a menagerie of artifacts, antiques, slot machines, and reputedly the state’s largest whisky selection, with more than 170 on offer. “We say it’s a quaint little museum with a drinking problem,” says assistant bar manager Charlie Struble. “It is a place where you can enjoy a fine glass of whisky and feel like you can still let your hair down while listening to great music.” Nightly summertime shows include rock, country, and blues. Throw down a fiver for a Jim Beam Black or go big and order a Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old ($75 for a 1.6-ounce pour).

Singer-songwriter folk and rye

Mane & Rye Dinerant—Nashville, Tenn.
This casual Midtown dining spot in the Hutton Hotel serves up modern renditions of classic diner dishes—think chicken-fried steak and sausage gravy—as well as Southern fare like shrimp and grits or buttermilk catfish. The solid selection of more than 50 ryes and bourbons includes a Belle Meade flight for $28. Or choose from 30 scotches and cocktails like the Make Me an Offer with Old Forester rye, Four Roses bourbon, Montenegro, Cocchi Americano, and grapefruit oil ($14). Musical taste is equally good, with rock, country, and folk acts playing live on most evenings.

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