Try 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle for $20

November 29, 2013
Not every bar gets an allocation of Pappy Van Winkle. (Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)
Not every bar gets an allocation of Pappy Van Winkle. (Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Pappy Van Winkle is the world's most sought-after bourbon. The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery celebrated "Pappy Van Winkle Day" two weeks ago, when this year's whiskey was released to stores and bars nationwide. A limited number of bottles have made their way to Washington, with bottles popping up (so far) at Jack Rose, Cafe Saint-Ex, Bar Pilar, Acadiana and Shelly's Back Room.

As you can probably guess, it's not cheap: A bottle of the smooth, delicious 20-year-old Pappy has a suggested retail price of $130, though it usually sells for much more than that when you can actually find it. At a bar, you might pay anywhere from $30 to $45 for a pour of 1.5 to 2 ounces.

If you want to try this elusive spirit or its sister bourbons in Washington, the cheapest way is to go to Meridian Pint.

Yes, a beer bar.

General Manager Drew Swift says the bar currently has the 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Special Reserve, along with two lesser bourbons from the same distillery: the 10-year-old Old Rip Van Winkle, which is 107 proof (compared to the elder Pappy's 90), and the 12-year-old Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot "B." Meridian Pint's pricing scheme, Swift says, is "$1 a year" for a 1.5-ounce pour, meaning you can try the Pappy for $20. (By comparison, Acadiana sells the 20-year-old for $29, which was the cheapest I had found so far.)

Meridian Pint has been closed for the last two days due to a power outage on 11th Street – Kangaroo Boxing Club and Maple have also been shut down – but it's reopening tonight at 5 p.m. A glass of Pappy sounds like just the thing for a celebration.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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