If you’re looking to impress a client, a date or do a little cougar hunting, the Whiskey Bar & Grill fits the bill. For over a decade Whiskey’s dark aesthetic and affluent attitude has produced a vibe all its own, though attaining that vibe is much easier if you’re on an expense account.
The Whiskey Bar & Grill is located in the heart of the “Cialis Corridor” (f.k.a. Viagra Triangle) on Rush Street near a slew of up-market competitors including Tavern on Rush, Lux Bar and Jilly’s. The international Whiskey Empire created by brothers Scott and Rande Gerber-who is married to some chic named Cindy Crawford-spans from New York to Mexico to Spain and remains wildly popular with those chasing the MTV lifestyle. The snaking lines I recently saw outside the Whiskey Blue in midtown Manhattan on a blustery night can attest to that. This Whiskey, at the base of the Sutton Place Hotel, is one of three local establishments, with the other two being Whiskey Sky and Living Room, both located in W Hotels.
Enter the revolving door and into a space that’s dark enough to please your inner-vampire. Then feel your way straight ahead toward the main bar area or to your right toward the dining room. A low black tile ceiling runs throughout the narrow main space, with rows of backlit liquor bottles behind the bar providing some contrast. Cork-covered walls are sparsely adorned with photos of rock legends, while over-sized plate-glass windows wrap around the south and parts of the east wall. Beyond the fair-sized bar and a few cocktail tables, the dark wooden floors give way to a carpeted triangular lounge area, whose plentiful leather couches, stools and chairs reminded me of a private men’s club. The larger dining room adds a row of leather booths, a long communal table, plenty of HDTVs and a second though smaller service bar.
Whiskey’s martini, specialty and seasonal cocktail selections provide more options (26) than the 19 on the beer list (six draft, 13 bottles). Each will set you back $12, but we can vouch for the tastiness and potency of the Clementine Crush. Since I was visiting Whiskey, I naturally opted for a Shirley Temple… Actually, I partook from among the 22 Scotches on hand, inaccurately described on the menu as being all single malts. There are also a dozen bourbons, ten cognacs and a champagne list available to toast your “Great Success.” $130 might seem a little steep for a serving of Remy Martin Extra, but hey, nothing’s too good for you.
Whiskey offers brunch on weekends and a small bites menu during the evening. Expect a limited offering presented as amped-up versions of the usual appetizers, salads and sandwiches. You could have the Angus Sliders or dine at any of three dozen high-quality restaurants within shouting distance. You decide.
More subdued than its clubbier brethren, Whiskey Bar & Grill attracts a well-heeled clientele of 30 and 40-somethings, a mix of gold-coasters, suits and business tourists looking for scoring opportunities. The sidewalk cafe bustles when the weather allows and on weekends, particularly Friday nights, you’ll see more prowling than the Serengeti. Weeknights can be another story: once happy hour fizzles, the place no longer sizzles.
If you’re looking for an ultra-fashionable cocktail venue, a potential celebrity sighting or just want to party like one, saunter on in to Whiskey sometime. If you enjoy Whiskey, you should check out any of the aforementioned sibling bars. If you like whiskey (the beverage), you should visit Duke of Perth, Clark Street Ale House or Redhead Piano Bar. For more information, check out the Whiskey Bar & Grill website. Slainte mhath.