Fun fact: In 1964, Congress declared bourbon to be the most American of spirits. We’ll raise a glass to that. And you should, too — it’s pretty much a patriotic duty to indulge in Cleveland’s whiskey and bourbon scene.
Whether you’re after bourbon (made from mash that’s at least 51% corn among other requirements) or something else from the wider world of whiskey, The Land has got you covered. That full-flavored taste. The subtle sophistication of sipping well-aged spirits. It’s all here. Our picks for Cleveland’s best whiskey and bourbon hit only the smoothest of notes.
(Note: We totally understand that everyone can’t wait to hit up these bars and restaurants but remember to check the hours and operating procedures before heading out. Until Covid-19 is fully in the rearview mirror, many places will continue to operate under limited hours.)
In 2019, Oak & Embers was named one of the best bourbon bars in America by The Bourbon Review— and they know a winner when they taste one. This Chesterland tavern offers specialty cocktails, like the Ohio Old-Fashioned made with Middle West Spirits bourbon, and even flights for those seeking a little variety. Need a sweet treat? You can’t go wrong with the Bourbon Root Beer Float.
These local masters keep blazing new trails in the whiskey game. Cleveland Whiskey ages its spirits with black cherry wood, apple wood or even sugar maple wood — opening the door to unexpected and unusual flavor profiles. The end result? The distillery’s unparalleled Cleveland Underground collection. Order online or snag some at bars, restaurants and liquor stores across The Land.
Barbecue and bourbon — a match made in heaven. Everyone knows that Mabel’s is the place for mouthwatering brisket and ribs, but Michael Symon’s East 4th Street hotspot also doubles as a bourbon and whiskey powerhouse. The prodigious selection ranges from private single barrel bourbons carefully curated by the Cleveland Bourbon Club to whiskeys from as far afield as Japan.
This quiet hideaway in Coventry more than lives up to its name with over 500 varieties of whiskey from around the world. Its intimate setting, complete with low lights and live acoustic music on weekends, makes for the perfect after-hours retreat. The Whiskey Bar started out as a basement speakeasy before recently expanding to the ground floor to accommodate the growing number of guests who love its low-key vibe.
Hit up this Gordon Square tavern for a little comfort food — and a whole lotta whiskey. If you’re feeling that local flavor, try the Woodstone Creek made in Ohio. Or, for a change of pace, send your tastebuds across the Atlantic with eleven different Irish whiskey options, including heavy hitters like Jameson, Bushmills, Redbreast and Midleton Very Rare.
Take a swanky step back in time at Society Lounge on East 4th Street. This Jazz Age-inspired speakeasy combines an upscale atmosphere with a dazzling array of handcrafted cocktails and Ohio-made spirits like Watershed Bourbon, Cleveland Whiskey, Tom’s Foolery and OYO Master’s Blend. Need we say more? (Check operating hours.)
This Tremont spot brings a jolt of Mardi Gras to the North Shore. Polish off some authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine and then wash it all down with classic New Orleans-inspired cocktails. From the Bulleit BSBR Whiskey Business to the Maker’s Mark Bourbon Berry Smash, you’ll fall in love with this little slice of Big Easy heaven.
Celebrate Cleveland’s illustrious history with a nightcap at Vault in The 9. Trust us, you’ll never enjoy spirits in more beautiful surroundings. The cocktail lounge is nestled inside century-old bank vaults underneath the old Cleveland Trust Rotunda, creating an elegant atmosphere right out of the Prohibition Era. The bourbon and whiskey collection checks off all the classics, plus seasonal drinks like Blood Money (Bulleit) and Billionaire (Maker’s Mark).
Tom’s Foolery pays homage to tradition, making its bourbon in pot stills just like in the good old days. No added chemicals, sugars or coloring. Just a bold and full flavor made from scratch. And, for the locavores out there, Tom’s Foolery uses corn grown right on its 115-acre farm for all bourbon production. The Burton distillery is rarely open to the public, so plan on ordering online or picking some up from liquor stores throughout Ohio.
This Rocky River brunch landmark also serves up craft cocktails like the Char Sour (Four Roses bourbon with added hints of lemon and orange) and the Char Julep (Weller Green bourbon and mint mixed with blackberry brandy). Or, if you need a morning pick-me-up, try the Half Hour Sit Down Shower cocktail — a concoction of bourbon, Baileys, warm spice syrup, bourbon caramel sauce and coffee.
More Bourbon & Whiskey
Want more whiskey, bourbon and more? Scope these locations across The Land: