Whiskey bar

Secret Tips From Bartenders For The Best Whiskey Bar Experience

Let’s face it; roam around a whiskey bar like Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland, Oregon, can be an event that improves the lives of most whiskey lovers and a revelation for the whiskey novice. However, browsing a menu of over 1,200 different whiskeys can be daunting, even for those of us who serve spirits as a profession.

So how do you make the best decision when choosing a whiskey that doesn’t blow the bank or discourage expanding your palate? Well, I’ve interviewed several excellent bartenders, many of whom have worked or are currently working in whiskey bars, and I have accumulated a few tips on how to walk into a whiskey bar and get the most out of your time. experience.

First of all, and this is the most important, remember that it is your experience, and you’re there to have a great time, enjoy the company of those you’ve come with, and try a fun new whiskey. There is no reason to be intimidated or overwhelmed in this environment. If the attitude of the space seems to be too stuffy or critical, one should never feel pressured to stay; find a dive bar with a good selection of whiskeys and spend your money there. A personal favorite when I lived in Austin was the quiscale (their website isn’t theirs anymore, apparently;) bonus, they have a veg-focused killer food truck just outside.

A good rule of thumb in any bar is knowing what style of whiskey you prefer and which flavor notes are right for you, even if you want to step outside that comfort zone. If, for example, you’re a fan of milder styles of American bourbon such as the honey and yeasty notes of superior wheat Bernheim or Maker’s Mark (which doesn’t use rye in the mash bill, only barley, corn and red winter wheat) but if you want to stretch a bit, take a look at American single malts, which stand out for their softer, toasted grain-like tones, but not for the peaty and medicinal quality. Scotch.

A bar in Waco, Texas (Image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

If you are more of a Peat monster drinker style, something like that Sulfur balconies would be an interesting choice. It’s also good to know how you like to have your whiskey, whether it’s pure, with a cube, in a Glencairn or highball glass, or with a little water on the side. For higher proof selections, I always suggest a little water on the side so the guest can tone down the proof if they wish.

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Have a basic understanding of terms used in whiskey production: bottled, single malt, single barrel, barrel strength, etc; which are not only indicators of quality, but also an indication of what is going to happen in terms of flavor. An excellent resource for this can be found at Whiskey for everyone. Trust your instincts; if something seems too expensive, don’t be hassled to order it. Likewise, if something comes off the page and speaks to that secret place you used to write in your journal from high school (maybe college, we’ve all been there), take the plunge. and order.

Keep a notebook if you want to learn more about your tastes and track your journey as a whiskey lover. There was a time when I wrote down everything I drank; beer, wine, spirits, until I learned enough about my palate and preferences to be clear enough about what I really enjoy. I always take notes on any new product that I come across. A personal choice has always been Moleskine Products: They are available in a variety of sizes, colors, and specialty options, as well as hard and soft cover options.

Ask about flight options. Even though the menu doesn’t specifically state that flights are available, that doesn’t mean the manager, bartender, or waiter won’t be happy to share a few small servings of whiskeys that get them personally, some tough. to find spirits, or new items they have at home. Flights are fun ways to expand your experience without worrying about consuming too much alcohol in one sitting. For that, don’t forget to keep your palate cool and drink plenty of water and have a few small bites that will complement your spirits selections.

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Ask about barrel selections or special bottles that the site can offer, sometimes referred to as a Captain’s List. Many bars that focus on whiskeys have invested in private selections that you’ll be hard pressed to find outside of this space. Typically a bar will send a representative to a distillery and that person (or those people) will hand select a barrel that they believe represents the best of the bunch and their flavor preferences. They will then buy that barrel and it will be bottled (usually barrel strength) and shipped to their facility. These selections can be pretty amazing drams and since this is a limited production, no offer will taste the same, allowing you to enhance your experience and discover something new about the specific tastes of the company. space you are in.

In Oregon, a controlling state, if you come across a selection of barrels that you really enjoy, sometimes you can find it at the liquor store that supplies this bar, as bars have to get a liquor store to pick up. the barrel and this place will usually keep excess inventory and place it on their shelves for a general purchase. Most consumers walk right past it, not even realizing that the slightly more expensive bottle of “X” on the shelf is something so special.

Finally, trust the team that the bar has assembled to serve you and meet your needs. Most bars at this level have a fairly rigorous training program that goes through a fairly intense selection and hiring process. In Bobby Heugel’s spaces in Houston, like Anvil, bartenders must learn 100 different drink recipes (which they must then prepare for $ 1 a drink before passing) and pass a blind taste test of 50 spirits by correctly determining 47. These bar managers, bartenders and waiters all need to know their stuff and be on their game to be the people standing in front of you talking about whiskey. And they’re only there to make sure you have the best time possible.


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