The Great Whiskey Bar Survey
Speaking in very broad terms, whiskey is a man’s drink. The modern woman is, of course, more than welcome to partake in the glory that is culled from fermented grain mash, be it in Bourbon, Scotch, or malt form. However, in my experience, whenever I’ve seen a gently swerving tumbler full of the brown stuff, chances are that the imbiber was male rather than female. There’s just something undeniably hair-chesty about that slow warm burn that most women don’t seem to enjoy.
But maybe I just need to get out more.
As of writing this piece, I still believe the following to be true: whiskey = a man’s drink. However, I may be forced to revisit this presupposition. You see, as we looked around at the data from all of the country’s best whiskey spots we found an interesting pattern: no pattern. Surveying the numbers from our vast databases aggregated, anonymized credit card transactions, we found that there’s doesn’t seem to be any one type of whiskey establishment. Looking at bars that boast hundreds-strong whiskey selections, they range from chill lounges tailored toward high-earning senior citizens all the way to college kids searching out deals on shots. In fact, the most conclusive thing we can tell from the data is that the whole country likes whiskey.
Nearly every part of world creates their own form of whiskey, from the Scottish highlands to southern Japan right on through to Bourbon County, Kentucky (where—little known fact—very little Bourbon is actually made). Right now, the world’s best selling whiskey is Jack Daniel’s, whose 120 million bottle-strong annual sales recently overtook the Scotch auteurs over at Johnnie Walker. This may not be so surprising when you consider that a 750 ml bottle of Jack will run between $20 and $30, while similar-sized bottle of Johnnie starts at $30 for a bottle of Red Label and runs the way up to $200 or more for a bottle of Blue.
But then of course, there’s the Bourbons, the blended whiskeys, the malts, the ryes, the white dogs, and on and on. There are a lot of choices out there. And sometime you need the help of a learned barkeep to help you through the delicious grainy brown glut. Luckily, there are a bevy of choices all around the country.
For example, when in New York, if you want to rub elbows with the elite, try Whiskey Park on Central Park South in Donald Trump’s Parc Building. This is a decidedly more upper-crust vibe where our data shows that 45% of all customers earn more than $125K/year and a third of all customers are between the ages of 36 and 45. But, surprisingly, the median total bill is only $48.
Meanwhile, for imbibers looking for a more downtown scene (or actually, cross-river), check out Noorman’s Kil and their 280-strong whiskey menu in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here, over half the patrons are between 26 and 35, and the average total bill is only $31.
Moving on into Chicago, Delilah’s 350-bottle strong whiskey menu (mostly Bourbons) is a more youthful, working class vibe where a little over 10% of patrons are single parents. While Longman & Eagle will offer eight selections daily from their 148-stong collections as $3.00 shots to their overwhelmingly single (60%) customer base—nearly 50% more than nearby establishments.
You can try your pick from a 220-whiskey strong menu in Dallas’ Reserve 101, where the majority of the customers are under the age of 35, but nearly a quarter earn over $125k/year. So, the chances are that a person you meet there will be constitutionally disqualified from running for president, BUT will probably have a pretty awesome car.
Heading over to Seven Grand in Los Angeles, which can boast a very impressive 375+-stong-whiskey menu (in addition to a very impressive 97 Bundle Score), the majority of the patrons are below 35 where over a quarter are single men, and 20% earn below $20K.
Japanese-themed Nihon in San Francisco is packed with over 400 different types of whiskeys. And it is a mostly a singles hangout with 73% singles clientele, the majority of which are under the age of 35. But be sure to save up as the median cost is $60
So, it seems whiskey bars no longer only appeal to the grizzled, stuffy old archetypes, but to all sorts of … archetypes. Perhaps we are living through a whiskey moment—as with cigars in the 1990s, when this traditional spirit comes moves from the wood paneled walled gardens of the elite into the zeitgeist of the public at large.
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