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Good Scotch Bars in Your City

Okay folks. I'm now on a mission for bars with good scotch menus. I live in SoCal, and fly a little airplane, so I can do overnight "road" trips to LA, San Fran, Vegas, Phoenix, even up to Oregon and Washington. Plus my business takes me on the road every other week. I'm scheduled to go to Chicago, DC, NY, Boston, Denver, Houston, London, Toronto, and Quebec City, so please, please, please tell me what you've got. Even if it wasn't one of the cities I listed, I'll figure out how to get there to check it out.

CA Scotch Chick

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  1. In Toronto, the only places to go for whisky are Via Allegro, the largest malt list in the world; and Allans, pub with a great whisky menu on the Danforth.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cam D

      How many malts at Via Allegro from which to choose?

      1. re: wagger

        950+ malts. Joseph, the whisky sommelier for lack of a better word, sits on the Whisky Magazine Tasting Panel.
        I think I have a pretty good rare collection and they have a lot of what I have and more.

        1. re: Cam D

          I"m booking a ticket to Toronto immediately! Time for some problem drinking!

          1. re: wagger

            Me too. I don't go to Toronto until November, but I think I'll need to schedule something sooner now. That was an awesome lead.

            CA Scotch Chick

            1. re: CA Scotch Chick

              Wagger & CA Scotch Chick,

              Let me know when you are coming into town. There are too few people who want problem drinking with whisky!

    2. Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco. It was recently written up in both the Wall Street Journal and Food and Wine, if my husband is to be believed. Amazing selection of scotch, but even more amazing is the selection of bourbon.

      If you are willing to detour from scotch, try the 20 year Van Winkle Family Reserve. $20 a shot, but rated one of the oldest and best bourbons in the world. Research shows a 23 year version is available, but I did not see if Bourbon and Branch offers it. The 20 year had incredible aroma of vanilla and butter, and smooth through and through.

      Bourbon and Branch is in a dicey neighborhood (the tenderloin) but the bar is worth it. It has a speakeasy vibe, complete with passwords, cramped booths, and dim lighting. It's a real blast from the past, but drinks are phenomenal.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Pei

        Also in San Fran, check out Alfred's Steakhouse; their bar has a huge single malt library.


        1. re: Pei

          I need some basic bourbon exposure. DC Scotch Chick and I love Woodford, but haven't liked anything else we've tried so far. Will definitely give the 20 Van Winkle a shot.

          Will check out both Alfreds (how is their steak?) and Bourbon and Branch (don't mind a dicey neighborhood if the goal is worthy).

          CA Scotch Chick

        2. SC,

          In Denver, go to Pint's Pub near the Art Museum in downtown Denver. Around 250 whisk(e)ys on the menu, 95% of them Scotch. And, if you want to get adventurous there are several obscure varieties such as spirits from India (very good) and Oregon (not so good.)

          You can fly into either Rocky Mountain Airport (formerly Jeffco) or Centennial. Both are easy drives into downtown.

          Of course, there's always the Chinnery Bar in the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. About 60 varieties available and my favorite bar in the world.

          3 Replies
          1. re: wagger

            Both great leads. Sounds like you are a pilot if you know Jeffco and Centennial. Will definitely be following up on the Indian scotches. We are doing research on them right now.

            CA Scotch Chick

            1. re: CA Scotch Chick

              I confess, I fly a "vintage" 48 yo Cessna 182. Stranahan's Whiskey, distilled in Colorado, is also pretty darn good.

              1. re: wagger

                I agree on the Stranahan's, quite tasty and the guys that run the distillery are great. The tour is fun as well if you're in the area.

          2. Ah CASC, hopefully you can ferret out some other places in Seattle for me...the place where I started out, HopScotch, is no more..... :-( There I had my first of a lot of different SMs and the bartender got to know our tastes and would suggest ones to try....My first Glenrothes was there and we finished the bottle - a '79 or so? Sigh.....

            1 Reply
            1. re: smalt

              Hey smalt,

              Took your problem to heart and was doing some digging. Does this Yelp thread help, or have you already tried these places? The people on the thread miss HopScotch too - sounds like it was wonderful.


              CA Scotch Chick

            2. Scotch Chick...
              Great thread and blog site.
              Here's the place in KC: Harry's Bar & Tables. It's a lost treasure here buried by all the hip, gimmicky bars with top 40 playing. Who wants to listen to top 40 and drink Scotch???

              Via Allegro sounds like heaven. Ahh Toronto, keeping it cool.

              1. Hey all,

                I just found this thread too. It spans several years, but it has some good nuggets.


                CA Scotch Chick

                1. Equus Restaurant in Santa Rosa, attached to the Fountain Grove Inn. SWMBO and I enjoy week-long wine tasting jaunts through that whole area and use Fountain Grove as our base. Equus has one of the most extensive SMS listings I've ever seen. Better still, the staff really do know the difference between Speyside and Islay, with strong opinions about most of the bottles on the shelves.

                  1. In Baltimore (a 60 min drive or train ride from DC)-Birds of a Feather in Fells Point. Their menu isn't as extensive as other places, but if I remember correctly under $20 per drink. Owner is very knowledgeable (travels extensively to Scotland ) and can make good recommendations if what you want is out of stock. Of course I am bias towards any bar that has the The Balvenie PortWood 21 yr. :)


                    1. You may know this if you are in SoCal, but the best Scotch selection in LA is at the Daily Pint in Santa Monica. Second would be Seven Grand downtown.

                      Some reviews I did are here: http://recenteats.blogspot.com/search...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sku

                        Second on Seven Grand. Very fun bar with a great selection.

                      2. A somewhat unlikely place you might want to check out in San Francisco is Whiskey Thieves. I say unlikely because it's a typical San Francisco dive bar, but as the name implies they are very serious about their Whiskey. Last time I talked to the owner (admittedly a while ago) they were over the 250 bottle mark. One caveat depending on your proclivities -- They are owner operated so are able to allow smoking indoors.

                        1. Try the Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, MD.

                          It's a 5-minute walk from the Wheaton Metro stop, a straight shot from DC on the "Red Line." About a 20-minute ride from the center of town.

                          From their website: "The bar currently has more than 75 different Scottish malts, as well as several Irish malts. Stop by Thursday evenings when the Single Malt Scotch Tasting Menu is available."

                          In general, a place with a nice selection of time shelf liquors and well prepared food. The chef/owner is "CIA" trained.

                          1. Birds of a Feather in Fells Point, Baltimore MD. Very unassuming exterior amidst the busy loud bars of Fells Point.

                            1. I have to agree with Whiskey Thieves in San Francisco, a welcoming place. As for Bourbon and Branch, a very pretentious and over hyped place. Very good drinks but not a place to relax and enjoy. More like a Temple to Cocktails with whispering acolytes and an air of exclusiveness. Very off putting but worth a visit if you are in town.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: budnball

                                I have not had that experience at all in my three very recent trips. Yes, they put you through the silly password nonsense, but service has been friendly and helpful the times I've been, and customers at the bar were relaxed and chatty with the bartenders.

                                Reading through some Yelp comments that are similar to yours, I felt like a lot of the hype has died down at B and B, and in a great way for locals. It went through a stage where everyone wanted to be in there, but now has hit a smoother, more enjoyable stride except maybe on the busiest nights.

                                1. re: Pei

                                  Thanx for the update, Pei,
                                  I'll give them another try. The drinks can be phenomenal, i just don't need to hear a discription of each artisan ingredient!

                                  great blog site!

                                  1. re: budnball

                                    Haha, I like the descriptions. I wonder if there's a way to hint to the server that you don't need the full "experience."

                                    I will say, I was in the library for the first time this weekend and did not like it at all. The limited drink selections didn't include the types of cocktails I like except for the Revolver, and the room was much too crowded and noisy. I could barely walk, let alone enjoy. I much prefer the tables in front.

                              2. In New York, I would definitely recommend the Brandy Library.


                                Their menu is on their website -- click on Whiskies, and the first five pages are all single malts.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Wu_Kong

                                  Has anyone had experience at Milk& Honey in New York City? My partner and I have an invite for our trip in August and was wondering what to expect?

                                  1. re: budnball

                                    Great place to go with a small group of friends to enjoy your drinks. They have a lot of rules (guys can't approach girls that aren't in their party, but the reverse is okay, etc.) but if you're looking for a place to hang out with the group you're with, it's great. Drinks are all top-notch and very creative.

                                  2. re: Wu_Kong

                                    More options in NYC:

                                    Keens is great, especially for atmosphere.

                                  3. I'm not sure if it comes with the store bought magazine, but the current subscribers issue of Whisky Magazine comes with a scotch bar guide of the world.

                                    1. Hi guys... I have a question about Scotch tasting options in the Los Angeles area, but I could not figure out how to post my own question. Can anyone help me? Thanks.. :)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: moneymaker

                                        Well, if what you mean is that you want to create a new topic, the button is above the listing of topics and below where it says "Whiskey, Bourbon, Tequila, Rum, and Other Distilled Potables". Top left hand area.

                                      2. The closest we get to a scotch bar in Boston is the Omni Parker house's Last Hurrah. They have a decent selection of about 20 single malts available. All come in a dram or half dram and the menu lists detailed tasting notes for each. (the bowl of warm mixed nuts they serve also goes well with the scotch.) Other than this location, most high end bars/restaurants will carry a few singlemalts, nothing unusual or noteworthy, and reliabley overpriced.