I also fired up Google Maps and made plans for a road trip. It turns out that four of the top choices don't even require leaving the area code. (Well, at least for now.) Of course, you'd expect a bourbon list to be dominated by Louisville and Lexington bars, and this roster does not surprise. But in their Southern region that excludes the Bluegrass State, almost half of the list comes from Music City. Actually, since they include the original Husk in Charleston, I'm just going to claim that one too and bump us up to 50 percent.
First on their list is Holland House Bar and Refuge, where The Bourbon Review recommends you "choose a Bourbon from the whiskey pyramid located at the center of their square bar, and be prepared to discuss the family trees of the Kentucky Bourbon barons with bar manager Jeremiah Jason Blake."
Interestingly, their profile of Whiskey Kitchen concentrates almost exclusively on the food, noting that "great Southern fare, such as the Fried Green Tomato BLT and the Southerner, a giant biscuit topped with gravy, a fried egg and cheddar cheese with fried chicken as a side option" are excellent accompaniments to Whiskey Kitchen's vast selection of bourbons. Personally, I just prefer a single cube of ice.
The menu is also the focus of The Bourbon Review's recommendation of Capitol Grille where "Farm-to-table dinning [sic]" is the highlight. Perhaps the editors had a few too many nips off of "CG’s own barrel of Jefferson’ Presidential Select 18-Year Bourbon," because I'm sure they meant "dining" and they were probably actually in The Oak Bar, which adjoins Capitol Grille.
The final award went to The Patterson House. (Despite the fact that after all these years, that link to their website is hardly worth clicking through. Must be a speakeasy thing ... ) The Bourbon Review says the talented staff at The Patterson House mixes up "some of the best cocktails you’ve ever tasted."
To commemorate this achievement, The Bourbon Review has teamed up with Four Roses Bourbon for a grand toast at all 55 winning establishments. Here are the details:
The nationwide “toast” will take place on Aug. 28 in conjunction with Four Roses’ Year of the Toast campaign (www.yearofthetoast.com), where winning bourbon bars’ toast will be highlighted in social media. The Bourbon Review and Four Roses Bourbon are also encouraging fans to engage in the “toasting” effort by toasting and tagging their favorite bourbon bar(s) of the 55 selected using hashtag #55Toast.
“The criteria for the list was simple,” said Justin Thompson of The Bourbon Review. “The bar needed to showcase Bourbon in a very proud manner, by educating their patrons about Bourbon and either providing them with a superior selection or a combination of a great selection along with having a reputation for showcasing Bourbon in their cocktails.”
So raise a glass of fine brown liquor in honor of our great bourbon bars! And feel free to let us know in the comments which ones you feel were left out.