When it came to making the The Bourbon Review’s list of America’s 55 Best Bourbon Bars for the magazine’s fifth anniversary issue, the establishment had to exhibit certain traits.
“The criterion to make our list was simple. The bar must showcase bourbon in the proud manner it deserves, it must educate its patrons about bourbon and either provide them with a superior selection, or a combination of great selection and a reputation for showcasing bourbon in their cocktails,” said Justin Thompson, founder of The Bourbon Review, about the list in a release.
Five regions were selected for representation: Bourbon Country, the Northeast, South, Midwest and West. Only 10 bars were represented in the Southern region, with just four Tennessee bars named to the list, all in Nashville. Their decisions' were based on the best kind of research there is – drinking. Of course, the magazine’s choices were no surprise to anyone local who longs for bourbon in a sophisticated setting.
One place that made their list is the Holland House Bar and Refuge, widely known not just in Music City but all over the world for their carefully-crafted cocktails using house made ingredients like bitters and syrups. The magazine chose the East Nashville haunt because of whiskey pyramid located at the center of their square bar, as well as the ability of bar manager Jeremiah Jason Blake to discuss the family trees of the Kentucky Bourbon barons with anyone who shows an interest.
Some tools of the trade at Holland House Bar and Refuge. — Photo courtesy of Holland House Bar & Refuge
Another local hotspot getting recognition is The Patterson House, noted for its intimate nature – just 30 people can gather round the bar – and speakeasy sensibility. For The Bourbon Review, the hard-to-find spot is totally worth seeking out for some of the best cocktails they have ever tasted.
M Street’s Whiskey Kitchen also made an impression, impressing as much with its southern-inspired menu as it is for its extensive collection. What did they like to eat with their drink? Hands down the Southerner, a giant biscuit topped with gravy, a fried egg and cheddar cheese with fried chicken as a side option.
Last but not least, the beautifully-restored Oak Bar at the Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel was chosen in no small part because of the restaurant’s own barrel of Jefferson’ Presidential Select 18-Year Bourbon. “It’s an honor to be recognized for our knowledge and selection of bourbon here at the Oak Bar,” said Janet Kurtz, The Hermitage Hotel’s director of sales and marketing.
Some of the selection at Whiskey Kitchen. — Photo courtesy of Whiskey Kitchen