Whether you’re touring distilleries in Kentucky or stuck at the airport bar endlessly refreshing Facebook, most things are better with a glass of bourbon.
Bourbon’s roots lay in Colonial America, but in recent years it has grown into a worldwide bar staple. Why has it become so popular? For starters, there are endless ways to enjoy it. From President Andrew Jackson distilling and tossing back his own whiskey on the White House lawn to rocker Lemmy Kimister’s backstage favorite, Jack and Coke, we can all agree with Mark Twain, who famously said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”
But you loved bourbon long before it was hip, and you’ve seen it all. You explored its history, savored the flavors and even found a guy who makes sure you get one Pappy Van Winkle bottle each year. You have experienced all bourbon has to offer, so how else can you celebrate your love of bourbon?
How about sipping an excellent Old Fashioned in a refurbished drunk tank? Or relishing a Mint Julep in a Cold War bunker? Are artisanal body shots more your speed? The world is your oyster, and we’re here with a few wild ideas to reinvigorate your love for Kentucky hooch.
1. Crack Open a Cold One with the Penguins in Antarctica
In the late 1940s, British scientists at Vernadsky Research Base in Antarctica were sent supplies to build a new pier. But, being the brilliant men they were, the scientists opted to build a proper English pub instead. The southernmost bar in the world was later sold for one British pound when the base traded hands to the Ukrainians. The new owners distil their own vodka on site, but it is still the perfect place for a whiskey drink with your penguin pals.
2. Artisanal Body Shots with a Twist in London
Have you ever thought, “Man, I’d love to take a top shelf body shot in a super swanky restaurant?” That’s an oddly specific request, but you’re in luck on Valentine’s Day at Bompass and Parr in London. The Anatomical Whiskey Tasting pairs vintage spirits with people the same age as the liquor, ranging from 20 year to 50 year reserves and models. Before each tasting, the intrepid model/vessel tells stories about their life to give a real sense of the time the bourbon spent in the barrel. After a successful launch in 2015, similar events have popped up at different bars around London. Let’s raise a toast to bourbon for doing the unimaginable and transforming questionable frat party antics into highbrow performance art.
3. Paint the Town Red in a 2,000 Year-Old Tomb
Aside from the over the top rave scene in The Matrix: Reloaded, you probably don’t think of caves as a nightlife destination. But if you find yourself in Petra, Jordan (one of the new seven wonders of the world), you can explore the aptly named Cave Bar, a Nabataen tomb replete with carved sandstone rock faces and giant stone “God blocks” towering over an elegant torch-lit room. While the creators of the gorgeous space probably (definitely) had better things to do than get sloshed, two millennia later we are here to reap the rewards of their craftsmanship as the perfect backdrop for a totally-not-ironic bourbon on the rocks.
4. Get Bombed in a Cold War Bunker
Bunker Club in Oklahoma City markets itself as a “high dive” bar, but beyond the uber-hip craft beer and Cold War-themed murals, has a truly thoughtful and delicious cocktail menu and lovely selection of local beers. Check out the Dr. Strangelove for a mixture of bourbon and pistachio cream of coconut, sure to make you forget the bomb. Their take on the Old Fashioned, called the Black list, is also well worth a shot. Priced from $6-$10, washing away the existential threat won’t break the bank.
5. Hit Up Carmax and Get Sloshed with This Dude
If you’re really desperate for some novelty, just hang out with Justin K., who has checked in at Carmax (yes, the used car retailer) not once, but twice, to sip a nice cold brew. So far, he’s imbibed on a Panama Krunkles beer by Terrapin and a Hopped Bourbon Cask Ale by Innis and Gun. Well man, we’re happy for you, but maybe not at a car dealership. Take it one step further and bring some bourbon along with you to this Carmax location in Knoxville, TN, where you can hopefully lure Justin towards the O’Charley’s down the street. Seems like he’d be open to the idea, and maybe he needs a friend to make sure he’s not going on any test drives. Yikes!
6. Toast Your Alien Overlords with an RVA Happy Meal
Shock rock titans Gwar have graced the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, with their newest excursion into world domination, Gwar Bar. While the bar looks like an unassuming part of the Jackson Ward neighborhood, upon entering you quickly realize you are in for a wild night. The headbangers haven feels like a schlocky Troma sci-fi movie set in the best way, while the locally loved RVA Happy Meal cures all thirst through the classic pairing of a shot of whiskey and a PBR. There’s really no better way to toast the memory of the great marauding alien warrior Oderus Urungus.
7. Swishing Craft Cocktails in a Boston Drunk Tank
The last place you want to end your night is in the drunk tank, unless you’re in Boston. Formerly the Charles Street Jail, Alibi is a hip cocktail bar that maintains much of its old jail décor with the addition of celebrity mug shots, tasty snacks and DJs Thursday through Saturday. The outdoor patio is unrivaled during warmer months, while the indoor bar is the coziest you will feel in the slammer.
This is a guest post from writer Sam Casteris. You can read more of Sam’s writing here!