According to bourbon folklore -- and Kentucky distillers do love their hard-to-prove stories -- the Reverend Elijah T. Craig made the first batch of corn whiskey on this date in 1789. June 14 is now celebrated as National Bourbon Day.
Jack Rose, which has the region's largest selection of bourbons and rye whiskies, is celebrating with special tastings in its basement "speakeasy" bar. For $19, you can sample four different 9-year-old Evan Williams Single Barrel vintages, which were bottled in 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997. Or for $55, you can try some incredibly rare Elijah Craig bourbons: a 12-year-old small batch, a 12-year-old cask strength, a 20-year-old single barrel (bottled in 1990) and a 21-year-old single barrel.
In the upstairs bar, four beers aged in bourbon barrels will be on draft: Allagash Bourbon Black, Legends Bourbon Brown, Mother Earth Overhead Tripel and Mother Earth Silent Night.
Since bourbon is my favorite spirit, here's a list of my favorite places to drink bourbon in D.C.:
Bourbon: D.C.'s original bourbon bar may not have the selection that its sister bar Jack Rose does, but the selection of more than 100 bottles is still worth exploring. Look for hidden (and cheap gems) like Old Fitzgerald, Old Heaven Hill, or the 6-year-old, bottled-in-bond Heaven Hill. (All are 100 proof and sell for around $10 or less.)
Fiola: A selection of the Pappy Van Winkle family, a number of limited-edition bottles from Willett and solid menus of small-batch bourbons and rye whiskies make Fiola's bar worth a visit. (If you prefer cocktails, the Old Pal and Sazerac are highly recommended.)
Bourbon Steak: If you've got something to celebrate, the high-end bar at Bourbon Steak is the place to toast. In addition to Pappy Van Winkle vintages, Bourbon Steak's menu has a wide selection of bourbon, including its own custom bottling of Four Roses and, for you big spenders, the five-star 16-year-old A.H. Hirsch Reserve. That one will only set you back $90 a glass.
Acadiana: You might not expect Acadiana to have dozens of bottles available, including the aged Parker's Heritage, W.L. Weller and George T. Stagg selections, but it does. My favorite thing about the bar is that you can pick three different whiskies from the menu, including 13 of the 20 Willetts offered, to create a flight for $13.
The Passenger: The bar's slogan might as well be "Drink More Rye." There's a well-curated selection of bourbon, including a custom bottling from Four Roses.
Smoke and Barrel: The Adams Morgan barbecue spot has more than two dozen small-batch bourbons and American whiskeys, and will even pair canned microbrews with specific shots of whiskey for high-end boilermakers.