Best bars in LA: Best whiskey bars

rye, bourbon, Scotch or Irish whiskey, or whatever you prefer.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Whiskey flight at Blind Donkey

Thirsty for the brown stuff? Whether you're a brown spirit newbie or bonafide aficionado, check out LA's best whiskey bars. From hotel bars to dive bars, the city's top selection of bourbon, Scotch and whiskeys from around the globe can be found at these top ten spots.

RECOMMENDED: Best bars in Los Angeles

Seven Grand

With taxidermy, plaid wallpaper, pool tables and an impressive, 300-plus collection of Scotch, bourbon, rye, single malt and whiskey (the largest selection on the West Coast), Downtown's popular Seven Grand is a boozehound's man cave. Take a trip to Japan, Scotland, Australia and even India with pours that will surprise even the most seasoned of whiskey enthusiasts. For those that want to geek out on the brown stuff (and avoid the hit-or-miss Downtown crowd), sign up for the Whiskey Society's monthly tastings (every first Tuesday at 7pm). Led by the bar's enthusiastic and knowledgeable spirit guide Pedro Shanahan, the tastings offer intimate talks with distillers and sometimes never-before-seen bottles.

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Downtown

Ten Pound

LA's classiest bar is also the toughest to get into. This invite-only bar—climb the stairs to the mezzanine floor from Montage Beverly Hills' Scarpetta restaurant—is dedicated to one thing: Scotch, namely Macallan. Sure, there are other spirits on offer, but the reason to visit this posh bar is the hard-to-find selection of Macallan Single Malts. Browse the list of Sherry Oak, fine oak, Highland Park and "old & rare" bottles aged anywhere from 15 to 64 years. Then, there's the ice. Your barman rolls out a cart of chilling options that include Kold-Draft cubes, soapstone rocks, a water ball made from Highland Springs water and, finally, the ice sphere with the house £10 logo. Lounge for at least a couple hours with a date—opt for the fireside outdoor patio—or with the boys. With top-notch selects and service, you can also expect some of the best cocktails around. We swear by the Jimmy Mac, made with Macallan 18-year, Benedictine, Averna and bitters—and a good ol' Old Fashioned. The price tag for this one-of-a-kind experience? Expect to dish out $30-55 for cocktails and up to $6400 for a single malt pour.

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Neat Bar

This dimly lit bar features a daily happy hour (4:30-7:30pm) to lighten up your weekday work grind. Everything is half-off and creative concoctions—try the Curiosity Cola or the Bourbon Smash—help quench your thirst and get your party on for the weekend. With Aidan Demarest (a Seven Grand alum) at the helm, you'll find serious cocktails and a top-notch selection of spirits. And if you have to ask how to take your whiskey, you're probably in the wrong place.

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Glendale

The Daily Pint

At first glance, this might look like your standard dive, but step inside and take a closer look—there is an impressive, ever-changing line up of craft brews on tap and by the bottle and hundreds of bottles of whiskey. Browse the longstanding watering hole's extensive selection of bourbon, Scotch and whiskeys from around the world. For those looking to shell out to get liquored up, ask the sassy-mouthed barkeep for a top-reach bottle. The floor-to-ceiling stocked vault holds bottles aged up to 65 years and beyond, and a particularly notable collection of single malt Scotches. Ponder your next pour in between games of pool, shuffleboard and foosball.

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Santa Monica

Sassafras

The Bayou meets grandma's sitting room at this bi-level bar, outfitted with a bust of President Lincoln, scratchy mirrors, weeds creeping out of the ceiling above the wicker chairs, and patriarchal portraits on brick walls. But in fact, the bar was literally transported from Savannah where the townhouse was dismantled, shipped and rebuilt to its original structure, from the moldings to the fireplace, in the middle of Hollywood. The focus here? Bourbon—this is the Old South, after all. Try the brown spirit with housemade ginger beer ($12) or mixed and aged in oak barrels in a Vieux Carre ($14) made with Sazerac Rye, Hardy VS Cognac, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, and Peychauds' and Angostura bitters. Or shake things up with a Sassafras Royale ($12)—a frothy mix of Templeton rye, housemade sassafras (think root beer flavors) bitters, egg, malted milk powder and house-brewed sarsaparilla.

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Hollywood

The Blind Donkey

The bar's name pays homage to the bygone donkeys—blindfolded, so as not to get spooked—that churned old mills that crushed grains for making whiskey. And that’s what you’ll find at the Blind Donkey: 100-plus whiskeys from America, Scotland, Ireland and Canada. Brought to you by Ryan Sweeney (the Surly Goat, Verdugo Bar, Little Bear) and John Bower, the Pasadena gastropub is where whiskey lovers and beer geeks flock. Whiskey flights cross the globe from the Bourbon Trail ($10) to Ireland ($10). And what whiskey cocktail is better than an Old Fashioned? The house version, the Butler’s Old Fashioned ($10), is on the sweeter side with chunks of local, homemade jam.

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Plan Check

Sure, the burgers are legendary and the fried chicken crack-like, but the drinks at this "kitchen + bar" are reason enough to come. Designed by wünderkid and mixologist-around-town Julian Cox (Rivera, Bestia), the drinks are as tasty as they are original—a mix of chai-infused tequila, cream, orgeat, allspice dram and bitters is sure to tickle the tastebuds of even the most jaded of cocktail nerds. But we're taking a trip East with Little Osaka Sour, named after the Sawtelle neighborhood Plan Check calls home, made with bourbon, plum wine, lemon and egg white ($12) and an impressive menu of Japanese whiskeys from Nikka Miyagikyo 15 year ($45) to Suntory Yamazaki 18 year ($30).

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West L.A.

The Pikey

This is the Hollywood good old boys' pub you’ve been waiting for. Owners Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson (Roger Room, Bar Lubitsch) have transformed the former dive into a three-room, British gastropub where the Union Jack meets red leather booths. Tasty pub grub—chef Ralph Johnson is an alum of NYC’s Spotted Pig—is on offer alongside a lengthy list of cocktails, brews, wines by the glass and spirits. Bourbon, whiskey and Scotch pours are aplenty and reasonably priced with nothing that will set you back more than $30. If that's still too steep for your pockets, drop in for the daily happy hour (4-6pm) when house cocktails, wines, well drinks and bar snacks are discounted.

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Hollywood

Rosewood Tavern

Owner George Abou-Daoud expands his portfolio of neighborhood watering holes at this Fairfax haunt, a favorite among locals. A vaulted ceiling hangs over long communal wooden tables, which call to mind a giant version of an English beer hall, and indeed this neighborhood gastropub's specialties are—in its own words—chops, ales and fine Scotch. Check out domestic and international whiskeys or ask for a flight of four pours ($27-$32).

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Los Angeles

Rock and Reilly's

Choose from 57 varieties of whiskey at this Irish pub that mirrors a loud sports bar, thanks to the many buzzing TVs overhead. Pair your flights of whiskey or beer with comfort bar food such as the guilt-inducing Irish Nachos ($10), made with crispy potato slices instead of tortilla chips. On weekends, expect to rub shoulders with local hipsters cramming into the bar, upstairs lounge and back patio.

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West Hollywood

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