Editors' pick



Editorial Review

The Buzz: For an all-American drinking experience, make tracks to this casual Adams Morgan bar. Start with its namesake Kentucky whiskey: more than 150 varieties are available to sample by the glass or in classic cocktails. Want to try a 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, find out why experts rave over Elijah Craig or get a taste of Wild Turkey's Rare Breed, which is miles removed from the stuff you downed in college? Just ask the bartenders, because they know their stuff.

The patriotic selection extends to beer and wine, too -- all the draft beers and most of the bottles come from domestic microbreweries like Brooklyn, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Bell's and Bear Republic. The wines, served on draft through one of those high-tech WineKeeper systems, hail from Virginia, California and the Pacific Northwest.

With bourbons ranging up to and over $60 a pour, you might expect a hoity-toity atmosphere, or at least some attitude from the staff and other patrons. But this isn't that kind of place -- first and foremost, Bourbon is a neighborhood bar that just happens to serve amazing drinks.

The Scene: Even on weekends, Bourbon is one of the least chaotic nightspots on the Adams Morgan strip -- the a lack of cheap drinks and pounding dance music draws a older and more laid-back crowd than you'll find at the neighboring Tom Tom or Brass Monkey. Fridays and Saturdays see the opening of the second floor lounge -- a spacious retreat with candles flickering on brick walls and a loft-like mezzanine filled with couches, plus two bars to speed service. A rotating cast of DJs spins a hip party mix -- usually hip-hop, reggae, soul or chilled-out electronica.

In contrast, the brightly-lit main level has little to distinguish it: diner-style tables, a couple of tall two-tops and a crowded, narrow bar area. ESPN and movies play on flatscreens overhead. In warmer weather, head to the back for one of the nicest (and most secluded) patios in D.C.

In Your Glass: Bourbon, of course. You can order any whiskey neat or on the rocks, and resident mixologist Owen Thompson has crafted a short menu that pairs the classics (old fashioned, Jack Rose) with inventive seasonal selections. The interactive "Manhattan Project" allows customers to craft their own Manhattans by mixing and matching some excellent bourbons with unusual vermouths.

On Your Plate: Bourbon specializes in comfort food, like heaping metal bowls of curly fries dusted with Old Bay, creamy grilled cheese sandwiches served with a side of homemade tomato soup, Angus meatloaf with mashed potatoes, and beef tenderloin marinated in Maker's Mark and served on white bread with smoky cheese, onions and avocado.

The weekend brunch is one of the best around, with a killer Bloody Mary, fluffy pancakes and breakfast platters that include both sausage and bacon along with your eggs.

Price Points: Whiskeys range from $6 to around $60, depending on the brand. Beers are $5 or $6, while wine is a little more expensive. Expect to pay under $10 for most sandwiches and burgers. There is no cover charge.

-- Fritz Hahn (Updated January 2009)