When you think "bourbon," the first place that comes to mind is probably Kentucky. But with all due respect to our neighbors across the river, Ohio has plenty to offer when it comes to the most American of spirits. In every corner of the Buckeye State, you'll find great bourbon bars where you can sip your favorite whiskey neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a unique craft cocktail. Let's all raise a glass to the best bourbon bars in Ohio!
It's hard to imagine a better hangout for bourbon aficionados than the Whiskey Bar. With its straight-to-the-point name and welcoming speakeasy vibes, it's a perfect place to sit and sip awhile. And with over 400 varieties of whiskey on deck, it's unlikely you'll run out of spirits to sample. The Whiskey Bar also has a friendly, easy-going staff of bartenders who are always happy to help you find the perfect bourbon for any palate. This is definitely a hidden gem in the Cleveland area.
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Offering one of the best bourbon collections in Northeast Ohio, Society Lounge is a staple of the Cleveland bar scene. With its stylish interior and Roaring 20s-inspired atmosphere, drinking here almost feels like stepping back in time. Society lounge is best known for their expertly-mixed craft cocktails (bourbon fans should sample the 'Death in New York') and prohibition-era ambiance, but they also offer a huge selection of spirits. Expect to be able to choose from 30-plus bourbons at any given time, and with a healthy selection of rye, scotch, and gin to boot.
The Bourbon Review named Oak & Embers one of the best bourbon bars in America in 2019, and they definitely know what they're talking about. This hole-in-the-wall in Chesterfield is all about the three B's: bourbon, barbecue, and beer. They serve an amazing selection of bourbon and craft beer to go with their smoky, savory pulled pork, beef brisket, and baby back ribs. And if you're in the mood for a cocktail, try one of their bourbon-centric signature mixed drinks. The "Follow the Smoke" is made with Makers Mark bourbon, Campari and Dolan sweet vermouth smoked with hickory.
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You'll find no shortage of great whiskey bars in Columbus, and the Buckeye Bourbon House is definitely one of the best. Their bourbon shelf is a thing of beauty, and they're always highlighting new and exciting bourbons, including a lot of small-batch spirits made right here in Ohio. They have over 50 whiskeys and bourbons to choose from, as well as crafty cocktails and a menu of elevated pub grub. They even offer bourbon flights for those who want to savor the different flavors. Buckeye Bourbon House also made Bourbon Review's ranking of the best bourbon bars in the Midwest for 2021.
Over 300 whiskeys are just waiting to be sampled at the Alibi Bourbon & Cocktail Lounge, a High Street hangout that might just offer the best bourbon selection in Columbus. This cozy, intimate space is the perfect place to enjoy drinks with friends and enjoy the Prohibition-themed decor. In addition to a deep roster of bourbons, the Alibi Bourbon & Cocktail Lounge offers an incredible array of signature cocktails that run the gamut from approachable and sweet to bitter and spirit-forward. You'll never run out of new flavors to try here, but if you want a basic Old Fashioned made just the way you like it, this is a great place for that too.
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A beloved staple of Columbus' Grandview Heights neighborhood, Barrel & Taps has everything you need for a good time. They always have a well-curated selection of bourbon ready to pour and craft beer on tap, and the indoor bar and outdoor patio each invite guests to stay awhile and enjoy themselves. There's a good chance there will be a food truck or two on-site if you get a little hungry. And with regular events like trivia nights, live music, and yoga on the patio, there's pretty much always something fun going on at Barrel & Taps.
Having been awarded Best Creative Cocktails two years running in 614's ColumBest poll, High Bank Distillery Co. takes drinks seriously. Bourbon is featured in cocktails such as the End of Anxiety, which pairs nicely with the restaurant's many shareables. We're partial to the Crispy Brussels with sweet chili glaze and Shrimp Tacos with adobo marinated shrimp. In addition to Grandview, the owners of this bar and eatery are scheduled to open a second location in the Gahanna/New Albany area this year.
Cincinnati is just a stone's throw across the Ohio River from Kentucky, so it should come as no surprise that the city has a lot to offer bourbon aficionados. The Littlefield is a great example. This hip Northside hangout features an eclectic interior and a breezy patio space, along with a great bourbon selection and plenty of local craft beers on tap. They make great cocktails too, like "The Fergus," made with bourbon, balsamic vinaigrette, ginger beer, and basil simple syrup. The Littlefield is also known for their elevated pub fare and Sunday brunch, which always includes vegan and vegetarian options alongside staples like burgers and shrimp-and-grits
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You might never have guessed that biscuits and bourbon went together, but you will after visiting Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey. Their biscuit plates and biscuit sandwiches are to die for. Try the Rosewood—Korean fried chicken, house-made kimchi, and Gochujang BBQ between two golden, butter biscuits—and chase it with a house cocktail like the Boomtown Gold Rush or the Gold Fashioned. Boomtown always has around 50 varieties of bourbon, scotch, whiskey, and rye as well, and their whole vibe revolves around a creative take on classic American frontier food and drink.
Known for being a great happy hour hangout, Hop Scotch Craft Beer & Whiskey is the perfect place to grab a drink after work. They have a huge selection of bourbon and whiskey, along with plenty of excellent craft beer. The staff behind the bar is reliably friendly and knowledgeable, and weekly specials like karaoke and mix-and-match craft beer buckets, there's always a good time to be had. Hop Scotch has 100-plus varieties of whiskey and a menu of staple pub fare like wings and flatbread pizzas.
Ohio offers no shortage of great bourbon bars. What's your favorite watering hole?
Photo Courtesy of OliversNestled in the heart of downtown, Olivers is a hip industrial eatery with an exceptional menu and a full bar. This central hotspot is known for their live blues shows every Friday and Saturday night and weekday happy hour from 3–7 p.m. With its full bar and delicious pub grub, Olivers is a great place to be during Buckeyes games. 775 Yard Street This modern restaurant was founded by the Heisman Trophy-winning Ohio State football star Eddie George, so it is naturally an exceptional place to watch the Buckeyes. The award-winning menu and beverage program completes the experience at this hotspot not far from the South Campus Gateway. 401 North Front Street #150 This Irish-American tavern always has something going on — including live music, darts, pub trivia, rugby, soccer and just about any sporting event. With over 15 televisions and two giant projection screens, you won't miss a single play of the Buckeyes game at Three-Legged Mare! 780 North High Street
Photo Courtesy of Short North Pint HouseThis trendy and vibrant pint house is situated in the heart of the action in the Short North Arts District. The modern industrial interior (with an open roof!) provides the ideal environment for a relaxed brunch or an exciting Buckeyes game. Short North Pint House offers tasty bar bites and an impressive selection of craft beers. 1480 Bethel Road Coaches is the place to be during any major sporting event, especially Buckeyes games. This neighborhood hotspot has over 50 TVs, good pub food and a spacious patio. Coaches offers a number of specials throughout the week, including $4 long islands, $5 craft beers, $3 Fireball shots and more. 20 Frambes Avenue Out-R-Inn is undeniably one of the most beloved bars for Ohio State fans. In fact, this mainstay has been voted one of the college bars in the country for its pre-game festivities and abundance of drink specials. The distinguishing factor of Out-R-Inn is its unbeatable atmosphere and energy, which keeps patrons (and alumni!) coming back again and again. When the weather is nice, relax on the spacious outdoor patio with picnic tables, TVs and cornhole, or retreat inside to play pool and darts when the weather cools. During big games in the fall and winter, the patio will often be open and equipped with space heaters. 278 West Lane Avenue
Photo Courtesy of Varsity ClubLocated just steps from the Horseshoe, the Varsity Club is a staple for Ohio State fans. This old school pub dates back to 1959 and still offers one of the best game day atmospheres for fans, plus one of the largest tailgate parties in the city. The cozy, wood-clad interior is accompanied by a large outdoor space in the back, where all the tailgating fun takes place! 1516 North High Street Chumley's is another popular destination for Ohio State students for its proximity to campus, abundance of drink specials and lively atmosphere. This relatively new addition to the local sports bar scene has plenty of room to roam and large high-res TV screens in every direction. On game day, Chumley's will typically open early in the morning (sometimes as early as 7 a.m.!) for the ultimate pre-game experience. 2195 North High Street The Little Bar is another favorite amongst Ohio State students, but on game day, you'll find a mix of all ages. As can be implied from the name, the inside of The Little Bar is pretty small, but there is a spacious outdoor area with a giant projector playing the game. Plus, you'll find 16 flat-screen TVs throughout The Little Bar, which means you won't miss a play! Don't miss Tiny Gate, considered one of the best tailgate parties in the city.