Not every whiskey bar has to look like the inside of a barrel. At Hard Water, the bar itself is the centerpiece: a beautiful, skinny horseshoe in the middle of the room, backed by a glowing wall of booze. The New Orleans-inspired cocktails are worth trying, particularly the Cocktail a la Louisiane, which blends Rittenhouse 100 rye, vermouth, Benedictine, absinthe and Peychauds bitters. But true connoisseurs come here for the flights. Each includes four or five half-ounce pours of various whiskeys, bourbons and ryes. Start with the Craft Distillers flight, which includes pours from distilleries like Willett, Colorado Gold, Moylan and Anchor's Old Potrero ($22), or splurge on the Legends flight, where the selections range from an A.H. Hirsch 16-year to a Pappy Van WInkle 23-year ($250). There's often a wait, even for a seat at the bar, so call ahead for a reservation.
While we have our fair share of favorite beer bars and wine spots, sometimes only a stiff drink will do. Whether you're a cocktail connoisseur or a novice sipper, these whiskey bars are the best spots for sampling rare brown spirits from Kentucky to Japan.
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