I haven't had a pour from there yet and when I do, make mine a cocktail, but for informational purposes, The Aviary, recently opened in Chicago. It is a cocktail lounge creation of Grant Achatz, named the best chef in the nation in the James Beard awards of 2008. The idea appears to be one of taking craft cocktails to the current most possible highest level. In addition to the craft cocktails though they are offering a flight of the full Van Winkle line, price unknown. Other menu listed options on bourbons include the BTAC's/$18, Pappy 20/$20, WT 14/$26, Black Maple Hill 16/$30 and PHC 27/$45. Rye's listed are Saz 18/$18, PVW 13/$22, Old Potrero/$20 and Ritt 25/$45. No idea on the size of the pours. A 10 course cocktail menu with bites, minimum of two people, can be booked for $165 per person. Maybe that $25 tour charge at the HH distilery, with a pour of the PHC 27, is not a bad deal after all.
Unbelievably it was a couple years ago in NYC at a usually very pricy bar noted for it's huge selection. Drinking with a friend late on a slow weekday evening I ordered a LotB and a BTAC Saz18 and my friend ordered a couple of good scotches. We explained that I was trying to get him interested in Bourbon and he was trying to get me interested in scotch. As we sipped and talked to the bartender who must have decided we were not total wankers and called the manager over to meet us.
We four of us compared impressions of different spirits we had tried and discussed how aging and different barrels might effect Bourbon Scotch and Cognac. When my friend and I eventually finished our four fat original pours the mgr. sent a couple of four pour tasting flights to us - WLW BTAC, PH27yr, pappy15 and Pappy Rye for me and 4 Scotches that impressed my friend. These were all very hefty pours for a tasting flight. It took us awhile but we finished along with a lot more conversation. The bill came and to our surprise it was $45 for each of us. I looked up astonished and the bar tender just winked and said they enjoyed our company. Needless to say he got a big tip and the Mgr. got a big handshake on the way out.
About 6 years ago I had a Pappy 20yo for $9.00 at The Tavern in Bardstown.
A year later it went up to $9.50.
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My best experience of this sort involved wine, not spirits.
Back in Tallahassee one of our favorite spots was a place called "Clusters and Hops". Sort of a combination wine store/gourmet deli/wine bar/bistro, it featured a great selecton of wines by the glass, as well as some good beers on tap (such as Pilsner Urquell). The owner was a friend of mine, someone I'd known for several years before he opened the place. Most nights he was operating as head chef, a capacity at which he excelled.
One evening when I was there by myself (i.e., not with the wife) he was present but taking the night off from managerial and cooking duties. We were sitting at the bar and he says, "Got something you'll like." goes in the back and brings out a bottle of 60yo tawny port (I don't remember the label; it wasn't one of the bigger houses like Taylor). He opened it and over the next hour we killed the bottle. It's the sort of thing that he'd normally charge $18+ per glass, so I got over $60 worth of very nice port for free.
So in this case we have the owner stealing from himself. But that's his perogative.
"Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your level of intolerance."
- Serge Storms
In early September 2004 I was on a business trip with a colleague and a couple of salesmen to Chicago.
It was a beautiful evening following dinner one of the salesmen knowing that I had an avid interest in bourbon suggested that we take a walk to a downtown Chicago club for a couple of drinks.
Their bourbon selection was almost non-existent. We drank JW Blue. When the tab arrived the salesman told the server that $50/drink was too much so they lowered it to $30.
I never tried to lower my tab, but I would if I thought it would work and the pricing was outrageous.
My best pour in a bar was @ Liberty Bar in Seattle GT Stagg and a sample of an old IW Samuels and a taste of Angels Envy. Thank you they have the best bourbon selection I have seen albeit I do not go out and drink much
a couple of times, when the company was picking up the tab i had pvw 15 at one bar and pvw 20 at another bar. they both tasted a LOT better when i knew it was free.
My most expensive pour was Macallan 30 year at Reata Rooftop Bar in Ft. Worth. I should have asked the price but they were advertising Happy Hour. When the bill came it was $113 for the shot. I have no idea what a bottle costs but I had figured maybe $30 or so for the shot. I ALWAYS ask now.