top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Bone Guys

Show Me the Way to the Best Whiskey Bars

Pinpointing the Ultimate Grain in L.A.



With phenomenal whiskies available from Scotland, Ireland, Japan, every corner of the U.S. and beyond, there has not been a better time in human history to be a whiskey drinker. So we’ve put on our detective hats (yup, the checkered ones with the flaps) to find out where some of the most coveted drams are stashed in SoCal.


Please join us in taking a look into the best whiskey bars in L.A., guided by insider tips on the most hankered-after offerings and favored treasures from the people who run them.


And since you’ll be hearing a lot about whiskey, go ahead and pour yourself one before you sit back and enjoy the read. Otherwise you may find yourself getting dangerously thirsty.


Venice

Name: Old Lightning, a reservation-only, mid-century pearl of a speakeasy beside Scopa Italian Roots specializing in vintage, discontinued and rare spirits.

The Coveted Bottle: “Redhook Rye Kentucky straight rye whiskey. Two bottles in NYC just sold for $35,000.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “Weller 12-year Kentucky straight bourbon. Another is Larceny. Many people don’t realize when Heaven Hill discontinued Old Fitzgerald, all the whiskey dedicated to that is what makes up Larceny.” — Pablo Moix, owner


Santa Monica

Name: The Daily Pint. What looks like a typical sports bar from the outside is a whisky paradise within; a cozy, time-honored, wooden-walled pub lined with cherished bottles, Bay City locals and bar games.

The Coveted Bottle: “Macallan 1946. It’s a 52-year-old and the bottle is worth well over 35 grand. It runs about $2,500 a pour. Right now it’s still closed, we haven’t got the lottery winner in here yet.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “It’s not that rare but it’s Balvenie’s 21-year Portwood, which is really good. We’ve also got a lot of whisky from the distilleries themselves and also from bottlers who buy it from the distilleries and age it themselves, which are very limited. We have over 1,000 whiskies here.” — Llan Blake, bar manager



Beverly Hills

Name: The Double Barrel, stocked with hundreds upon hundreds of international whiskies inside of a chamber of dark woods, leather loungers and hunting trophies from its sister property, the historic Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas.

The Coveted Bottle: “The Yamazaki Mizunara. This Japanese Whisky has been aged for 18 years in Mizunara Oak. It is rich, smooth, and fragrant with a distinctly spicy finish.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “The Henry McKenna Single Barrel. This bottled-in-bond bourbon whiskey was aged for 10 years and has a rich caramel aroma with herbal notes of cardamom, anise, oak, and rye spice.” — Deep Sethi, owner


Pasadena

Name: Blind Donkey, a casual spot to land where a well-curated list of the world’s great whiskies is supplemented with a reserve list of even rarer specimens.

The Coveted Bottle: “Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel from Buffalo Trace Distillery. While the Pappy Van Winkles and Buffalo Trace Antique Collection get the most inquiries, Elmer T. Lee is scarce and has a fervent, dedicated following. When we get it in, it goes fast.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “Johnny Drum Private Stock from Willett Distillery. You won't break the bank with this flavorful, robust and spicy dram. It's my go-to recommendation for new whiskey drinkers and those looking to explore the category." — John Bower, manager and co-owner



Downtown

Name: Seven Grand, a stylish, expansive bar whose shelves stock one of the biggest whiskey collections on this side of the States. There’s also a small sidebar called Jackalope focused on Japanese whisky.

The Coveted Bottle: “Seven Grand is home to the usual ‘coveted’ whiskies everyone asks about: the Pappys, Yamazakis and Hibikis. Our most expensive pour currently is Glenfiddich 40, there are only 600 bottles in the world in this batch. A full pour is almost $1000. Does it move? No, not really. Is it cool? Hell yeah. But our motto here is: Whiskey for the people. We want to blow your mind regardless of your budget.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “For me, there are two: Anything from Wild Turkey. We picked some amazing single barrels from them, which are fantastic in cocktails, neat or on the rocks. Also, Glenfarclas Distillery. This Speyside jewel is slowly showing up on the radar. An amazing alternative to someone who typically calls for Macallan, for example. It’s also an amazing option for someone who wants to drink something with a higher age statement and not break the bank.” — Manuel Nieves, assistant general manager


San Fernando Valley

The Coveted Bottle: “We’re currently very excited about the latest allocated release of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019. It is the 19th iteration of the brand's Birthday series and bottled at 105-proof, the highest to date. We feel it's the best of the Birthday series.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “I'd suggest Bib & Tucker, which was a term used to describe a tuxedo or fancy attire. This is a sourced bourbon from an undisclosed distillery and aged for a minimum of 6 years.” — Mark Sandstrom, GM, Forman’s Whiskey Tavern



Hollywood

Name: Lost Property, an oak-walled, leather banquette-wrapped lounge at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

The Coveted Bottle: “Belle Meade Mourvèdre Single Cask.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “Any of the Penderyn Welsh Whisky range. Especially the Penderyn Single Malt Sherrywood.” — Rhino Williams, partner


West Hollywood

Name: The Phoenix, a stylish West Hollywood watering hole whose beauty is rivaled only by its trendy crowds and massive international whiskey list.

The Coveted Bottle: “Teeling Vintage Reserve 24-Year Single Malt, which was awarded World’s Best Single Malt at the 2019 World Whiskies Awards, the first time an Irish whiskey had that distinction. Matured in ex-bourbon casks, then ex-Sauternes casks, it’s exquisite: white chocolate, a wisp of peat, and unmistakable, ripe peaches. Only 5000 bottles were made and we still have one.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2019. This is a favorite from Islay’s newest and least known distillery, Kilchoman. Their whole range is fantastic, classic peated Scotch, but Loch Gorm is a real gem. Rich, and full-bodied, it’s finished in ex-Oloroso sherry butts, perfectly balancing fruit, earth, & smoke. When one of my best friends – who professed to not enjoy peated whiskey) – turned 40, we celebrated with a bottle of this juice. Needless to say, it changed his mind.” — Adam LeClair, general manager


Los Feliz

Name: MessHall Kitchen, a camping-themed restaurant with pages and pages full of rye, bourbon, scotch and whiskey.

The Coveted Bottle: “The Pappy Van Winkle 23-year bourbon is probably the most coveted whiskey behind the bar, simply because of the limited amount available at wholesale during the year. It is delicious, as expected, for the price point of $160 for a 2oz pour. However, you are paying for the rarity.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “For a whiskey that may not have quite as large of a fan base, but, in my opinion, has unparalleled quality, would have to be Parker 11-year Bourbon. It is complex, with hints of jasmine, chocolate, vanilla and caramel, while not being overly sweet or overpowered with the wood from the barrel. While it absolutely has some heat, you would not realize you were drinking a bourbon that has a proof of 122% until it is too late.” — Spencer Recor, bar director


South Bay

Name: Steak & Whiskey, an attractively patriotic restaurant and bar offering red meat and an incredible cast of American whiskeys.

The Coveted Bottle: “I have a bottle of Heaven Hill 27-year Barrel Proof Small Batch Bourbon that I've kept squirreled away for a rainy day. That day will be approaching soon as I plan to finally release it for sale to our clientele during the holiday season. Bourbon isn't typically aged that long, so I'm excited to try it and talk about it with fellow bourbon enthusiasts.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “I love Belle Meade whiskey, particularly their 9-Year Cask Strength Bourbon. It's damn good and not out of range for the average consumer's wallet. I also recommend Pinhook Bourbon and Rye. They're a smaller producer out of Kentucky that keeps it simple and make a fine product. Lastly, I want to mention Joseph Magnus bourbons out of Washington D.C. They do an incredible job in selecting their blends and finishing them in a variety of casks. I suggest these bourbons to seasoned drinkers who may want to try something a little more complex and a little less well known.” — Grant Garner, bar manager/whiskey curator


Long Beach

Name: Stave Bar, a corner classic in Downtown with over 100 scotches and whiskies.

The Coveted Bottle: “The Pappy Van Winkles. We only get a few bottles a year... as soon as we get our hands on them, they are gone within a month.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “The Jefferson's Reserve is a great small batch bourbon, a good value and one not too many people are familiar with. It's warm with a little spice and pepperiness from the rye in the mash bill... a perfect sipper or great in an Old Fashioned. The Jefferson's Ocean is also fantastic for those looking for something a little different, as they age the whiskey barrels on a ship at sea - hence the brine.” — Tania, bar manager


Century City

Name: Copper Lounge, a sophisticated, modern nook inside the Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City, with a phenomenal list of international whiskies as well as a selection of cigars.

The Coveted Bottle: “Our Orphan Barrel series is probably the most exclusive and rarest whiskey you can find. These are the whiskeys that have been hidden away and forgotten in the back of old rickhouses and distilleries. They bottle the rare finds, which most of the time, are one of a kind. Each one is hand-bottled in Tennessee. Our current selections range from 15-26 years old.”

The Bartender’s Choice: ​“It would have to be the two whiskies which we have partnered and created with both Angel's Envy and Knob Creek. Our ‘ICLA Angel's Envy Whiskey Blend’ and our ‘ICLA Knob Creek Whiskey’ are both creations of the bartending staff as well as our beverage manager. Both selections were created with our guests in mind and what we have come to see our guests enjoy.” — Silvia Rho, beverage manager


Culver City

Name: Old Man Bar, a charming prospector’s cabin in back of Hatchet Hall restaurant with a giant U.S. whiskey collection that includes over 30 single barrel selections.

The Coveted Bottle: “Anything from Pappy Van Winkle. We carry the whole line, including the 25-year-old Van Winkle.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “All of our house barrels are favorites on the team. Specifically, right now the Weller 107 Single Barrel.” — Jonathan Strader, owner/operator


Playa Vista

Name: Grain, a backroom at Playa Provisions restaurant that feels like you’re standing in a whiskey barrel, offering numerous flights spanning from Islay to Japan.

The Coveted Bottle: We have a bottle of the Heaven Hill 27-year old bourbon. A rare bourbon that we all love. Dark and rich, notes of dried fig and leather finished with subtle smoke. We also have a bottle of the 2017 Mizunara cask-finished Yamazaki 18. In my opinion, it’s the best Yamazaki whisky ever made. Notes of toasted oak, butterscotch and cooked apple, and smoother than sin.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “Our own Playa Provision’s ‘Single Barrel Old Forester.’ I personally selected it at the distillery in Louisville, KY., and it exhibits all the character I love about Kentucky straight bourbon. The usual notes of caramel and vanilla with hints of cinnamon and a barrel note of olive that I really enjoy.” — Taylor Hall, bar manager


Malibu/Calabasas

The Coveted Bottle: “Karuizawa Emerald Geishas. The first is a 33-year-old aged in a sherry cask, which is one of 170 bottles. The second is a 35-year-old aged in a bourbon cask, which is one of 265 bottles.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “Glendronach 15 Revival. It is aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, packed with fruit and spice, with a smooth caramelized finish, and reasonably priced around $70.” — Deep Sethi, owner


Silver Lake

Name: Thirsty Crow, a picture-perfect Southern roadhouse stocking over 100 whiskies from all over the world.

The Coveted Bottle: Japanese Whisky has taken a prominent spot for the cutting edge connoisseur. Suntory Yamazaki 18 is by far our most requested Japanese whisky.

The Bartender’s Choice: Nikka Coffey (there is no actual coffee beans in it, Coffey is the style of still used) is our most underrated, medium-light bodied bourbon style Japanese whisky. One of the most unsung heroes would be Rittenhouse 100. It’s a 100-proof rye and holds up so well in a Manhattan. Angels Envy Kentucky Straight Whiskey is finished in Port wine barrels. Straight or with a cube, you will finally understand where the name came from. — Don Salerno, lead bar manager


Little Tokyo

Name: Wolf & Crane, a seductive late night bar specializing in Japanese whiskey and flights and cocktails that feature it.

The Coveted Bottle: “We have a lot of rare stuff. Some are chased more than others, depending on the drinker. It would have to be our Suntory Hibiki 30-year and Yamazaki 25-year. We also have some other hidden gems.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “For bourbon, the staff all agrees on Old Weller Antique 107. For Japanese whisky, it would have to be Nikka’s ‘From the Barrel.’ It's a bottle that has been around in the international market for years. It finally made it to the U.S.A. earlier this year. It's a cask-strength blended whisky made up of Yoichi and Miyagikyo distillery malts, and Coffey grain. I have yet to meet a person at the bar who said they didn’t like it.” — Gordon Grey, in-house whiskey curator


Koreatown

Name: Mama Lion, a glamorous throwback to the glamorous age of the supperclub, offering a stout collection of Scotch.

The Coveted Bottle: “Currently, we have an incredibly substantial list of crowd favorite whiskeys; from Macallan 25-year, Glenfiddich 30-year, and many more. Mama Lion is excited to have procured the release of Wild Turkey ‘Masters Keep Decades;’ which is such an interesting blend of aged bourbon held up by young bourbon with a notably low barrel strength ABV. The father/son master distiller effort is refreshing to see, and the whiskey is flawless.”

The Bartender’s Choice: “While we have an incredible selection of aged whiskies, there has been a massive interest in Japanese whiskey in recent times, and we are very proud to offer Suntory Yamazaki 12-year, as well as Suntory Hakushu 12-year Single Malt. These whiskies are extremely allocated, and we are proud to offer these selections exclusively to the refined palates of our community.” — Robert Kim, owner

128 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page