Date nights – lovely as they may be – are too often a compromise. Either your sweetheart doesn’t buy into the rootin’ tootin’ beer bar you picked (though it still rules), or your darling insists on a spot where veggies are the center of attention. Skip the whole charade and just head to Char No. 4, one of the city’s absolute best whiskey bars. You’ll be occupied with picking bourbon off the list of about a million, while your date will love the warmly lit, cozy ambiance – plus BBQ shrimp and grits that will win anyone over. You hear that? It’s the sweet, sweet sound of everyone getting exactly what they want.
This Southern bar and restaurant is lit by orange lanterns hanging from the ceiling – a nice trick for feeling like you’re warming up fast from the cold outside. Four huge shelves of fine whiskey drinkin’ are stocked above the wooden and black-marble bar, but head back to the dining room for a cozy leather booth for two.
Where do you begin when you have a stacked – and I mean stacked – menu of everyone’s favorite brown liquor? Skip the Old Crow (we’ll meet again, old friend) and treat yourself to something sweet before you turn up the heat. Barterhouse 20 Year comes from Orphan Barrel. It’s a traditional mashbill bourbon, uncharacteristically smooth, and has hints of warm biscuits and buttercream. Only YOU can walk your evening’s whiskey journey, but do end with a spicy rye, like WhistlePig Boss Hog 13 Year Barrel Proof. One sip from this puppy’s 100 percent rye mash bill, and you’ll know it was worth it.
Oh that’s right, Char No. 4 also has food. And lip-smacking Southern fare at that. Island Creek oysters are an excellent starter (and one of the rare non-pig items on the menu), to be followed by BBQ shrimp – with a healthy kick – served with crispy-but-still-creamy grits. Some say whiskey was meant for Southern food, so no one’s stopping you from splitting up a slab of pork spare ribs. That’s when you know you have a perfect date: Two people chowing on ribs right in front of each other. But hey, it kind of helps when you picked the perfect spot, too.