We all know that red wine pairs well with a perfectly cooked medium-rare steak, but whiskey is not a bad option, either. A refined single malt or a complex bourbon doesn’t have to be relegated to an after-dinner drink either (although that’s not a bad idea). You can and should slowly sip a dram of 18-year-old Speyside malt or 6-year-old Kentucky bourbon along with your porterhouse. Kimberly Geherin, regional manager for Strip House, is partial to the Scottish option. “Single malt pairs the best with … steaks,” she said. “The peat aroma (measured in PPM, or parts per million) found in some single malts acts the same as tannins do for wine. Moderately peated whiskeys (between 20 and 30 PPM) would pair the best with our steaks.”
Many steakhouses around the country are on board with this concept and have compiled some of the best whiskey collections you can find outside of specialty bars, focusing on rare and expensive drams from every whiskey (and whisky) producing region. Here are some of the best steakhouses to drink whiskey at now.
New York City
Keens has been around since 1885, and when you step inside this steakhouse you can feel the history. The ceiling is lined with ceramic churchwarden pipes that belonged to clientele including Albert Einstein, Teddy Roosevelt, and Buffalo Bill. In addition to the excellent steaks, the massive mutton chop covered in jus is a favorite dish. And the whiskey list here is breathtaking, featuring hundreds of selections from all regions of Scotland to nearly every American whiskey you can think of. Splurge on Highland Park 30 or Springbank 25, or try something more affordable but harder to find like a glass of Glenglassaugh 1986.
New York City, Las Vegas
The upholstery at Strip House is a deep blood red, foreshadowing the delicious steaks you will soon be sinking your teeth into. For dessert don’t miss out on the towering 24-layer chocolate cake, which is about a half-foot tall monument to decadent dark chocolate goodness. The whiskey list here has a lot of familiar offerings, but some special drams as well. Look for the Glenmorangie 1990 Grand Vintage and Usquaebach Grand Original Flagon Old-Rare from Scotland, or try some Peerless Rye and Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey from our home turf.
Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian features steak after Creole-seasoned steak, all served with a healthy side of “Bam!” You would be remiss not to read from the Book of Whisky, a 40-page menu that contains over 700 different whiskeys from every part of the world. If you are looking to drop some cash, head to the end of the book and check out the “Last Drop” section where you will find rare bottles like Glen Grant 50, Hirsch 22, Port Ellen 25, and Springbank 17. Of course there are plenty of more accessible whiskeys to enjoy as well, including several bottles from Taiwan’s Kavalan and a selection of Suntory expressions that are increasingly hard to find.
Michael Minna’s Bourbon Steak doesn’t just have an excellent whiskey list; the steakhouse has several carefully curated whiskey flights to choose from as well. These include Japanese, Scottish, Around the World, and something called Bucket List Bourbon (presumably with a selection of whiskey to drink before you die). There are also brand-specific flights from WhistlePig and The Macallan, and the Japanese Whiskey Ceremony during which bottles are presented tableside with an ice sphere and “table essence.” And that’s all before you even dive into the actual whiskey list, where each entry in the bourbon section has a detailed description of the liquid.
Texas just does things bigger, from its meat, to its hats and boots, to its steakhouse whiskey lists. At Steak 48 in Houston, there are plenty of selections to pair with menu items like the Steak Farina, a bone-in filet with a fried egg on top. Peruse the Texas whiskey section, of course, with home-state favorites like Garrison Brothers and Balcones. The scotch list ranges from affordable drams from Aberlour and Ardbeg to expense-account-only pours like Macallan 30 or Macallan M.
Chicago is another town known for its steakhouses — after all, the city is not far from some of the country’s major hubs for prime meat. Whiskey is big in Chicago as well, and at Prime & Provisions the two go hand in hand. The menu is reasonably priced, especially in the bourbon section … until it’s not. Be prepared to shell out some cash for a dram of Balvenie 30 or Hakushu 18, but most of the American whiskeys can be found here for less than $20 a pour (yes, that’s cheap for a steakhouse). For the tobacco curious, there’s a cigar menu to peruse as well.
Another Michael Minna outpost with a lengthy whiskey list is StripSteak at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. There are some top-notch whiskey flights to order, including the Bonzai and Bourbon combination of American and Japanese whiskey, and four different Scotch trios. For the Pappy-obsessed, there are two expensive offerings — Special Reserve Lot B 12 YO, and Family Reserve 23YO (at $550/pour). Your money is better spent on the single malt menu — each selection features carefully thought-out tasting notes. If you had a lucky night at the roulette wheel, order something off the Fine and Rare menu like Bowmore 40 or Michter’s 25.
Need more steakhouse options? Check out this list of the best old school Las Vegas steakhouses.
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