It has inspired writers and bikers, rock stars and politicians. It has crossed oceans, united countries, started brawls and created babies. It comes in a mind-boggling number of varieties that spur debates about superiority and spelling, and although it might not be an American invention, whiskey (or whisky, if you're a loon) is part and parcel of American romanticism.
With the third annual Dallas Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival coming up November 15 at Centennial Hall in Fair Park, now is a good time to talk about the best whiskey bars in Dallas, where you can sit and sip your preferred label of scotch, Irish whiskey, bourbon or rye.
As for that festival, we have a deal for you: Enter promo code CULTUREMAP for $10 off the general admission ticket price. The code expires on November 14.
Now, back to those bars:
When it comes to whiskey, it's smart to trust the Irish, and nobody does Ireland in Dallas better than Trinity Hall. This classic pub might be in Mockingbird Station, but inside feels like Dublin. Even more impressive than the setting are the hundreds of options that include Irish whiskies, American bourbons and Scottish malts. Trinity Hall's knowledgeable staff, curated flights and regular tastings ensure you will always find something you like. But you could also spend years here without getting to everything, and that's part of the fun.
Although we can't live like the Rockefellers or Vanderbilts every day, The Library at the Warwick Melrose Hotel offers one the opportunity to sip fine ryes and scotches among many leather-bound books and rich mahogany wood that would fit in just fine at Kykuit. You don't have to be closing any deals or picking the next JFK to enjoy this old-school bar's classically romantic ambience. You just have to pretend you are.
On the other end of the spectrum from The Library is Adair's Saloon. This Deep Ellum dive eschews Balvenie 15 for shots of Jack Daniel's, but if it worked for Johnny Cash, it will work for you. With dive bar staples like shuffleboard, graffiti and live music, Adair's Saloon is the kind of place that will get you drunk enough to want a tattoo. Fortunately, there are parlors within walking distance that can put the Chinese symbol for whiskey on your shoulder.
Some people, like Ron Swanson, maintain that the ideal whiskey recipe is the one that involves pouring whiskey into a glass and then drinking it, and they make a compelling point. But for those looking to explore the wide world of cocktails, Standard Pour in Uptown offers some whiskey drinks that even the staunchest evangelists begrudgingly accept. Take, for instance, the Twain & Salinger (High West Double Rye, huckleberry vermouth, Dolin Rouge vermouth and Campari) or classics like whiskey smash and Sazerac.
Nickel and Rye
Just down McKinney Avenue from Standard Pour, Nickel and Rye is an upscale pub with a patio made for people watching. Although Nickel and Rye is fancier than some of the other bars on McKinney, it has a relaxed vibe perfect for taking in a game on the big screens. Oh, and there is whiskey. There's the expensive stuff here, but on Thursday nights you can get 5-cent shots of JP Wiser's Rye with the purchase of any Texas draught beer. That is a dangerously good deal.
There are mixologists and then there is Eddie "Lucky" Campbell. His Parliament bar, in the State-Thomas neighborhood, is within walking distance of Standard Pour and Nickel and Rye. But Campbell's skills — and those of his cohorts — are hard to match. The menu easily has more than 100 options; flip to p. 12 for the start of "Whiskey River" cocktails or p. 22 for a list of whiskies from around the globe. You can't wear a fedora as stylishly as Campbell does, but you can at least drink like he does.
If a place has the word "whiskey" in its name, it's going to make this list. Whiskey Cake in Plano is more than a comprehensive list of scotches, bourbons and Irish whiskies, though. The restaurant takes pride in its farm-to-table approach, and the bar creates cocktails from scratch, if you like your whiskey with a few other ingredients. And then there's the actual whiskey cake, a toffee torte with bourbon anglaise, spiced pecans and whipped cream. Because everything ought to have whiskey in it.
The third annual Dallas Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival takes place November 15, 7-10 pm, at Centennial Hall in Fair Park. Come celebrate as we flash back to nights that spoke of opulence and excess, to nights where you cut loose on Saturday and asked for forgiveness on Sunday, to nights that brought everyone together in revelry and drink and to nights where secrets were made and kept. You can purchase tickets online. Enter promo code CULTUREMAP for $10 off the general admission ticket price. The code expires on November 14.