Have a taste for the finest whiskey? Here are the Top 10 whiskey bars in New Jersey, based on a vote by New Jersey Monthly readers. These 10 establishments (listed alphabetically) emerged out of an original field of 30 nominated bars to reach the semi-final round of our Best Whiskey Bar poll, sponsored by The Balvenie. Vote here for your personal favorite.
Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar
Not only does Blue Morel carry almost 30 kinds of Scotch, it invites brand ambassadors, distillers and owners from distilleries like Laphroaig, Glenfiddich and Hudson Whiskey to host elaborate pairing dinners. The last Thursday of every month “Bourbon and Blues Night” features a different distillery with complimentary tastings led by brand representatives, cocktails based on the spirit of the night, and small plates paired by the chef.
Dock’s Oyster House
, Atlantic City
Staff in the newly expanded bar section encourage patrons to ask questions about whiskey and will even pour mouthful-sized samples to facilitate understanding of the constantly rotating selection. To further invite inquiry, they also price spirits accessibly.
INC American Bar & Kitchen,
INC employees can make a fairly unique claim about one of its more than 70 American-made whiskeys (plus more than two dozen others): it belongs exclusively to them. After Maker’s Mark Distillery invited the restaurant to make its own bourbon, a few lucky volunteers traveled to Kentucky to craft a barrel to meet their dreams. Now patrons can buy a shot or a bottle of the Private Select along with seven different standard flights.
The Iron Room,
Credited with bringing cocktail culture to the southern Shore area, the Iron Room encourages its savvy bartenders to craft cool drinks using its 35 Irish whiskeys, 160 Scotches, 80 bourbons, two dozen New World internationals, and, well, you get the idea. What they don’t pour in a glass, patrons can buy by the bottle at the Atlantic City Bottle Company, located at the front of the bar.
Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen,
What’s notable about Jockey Hollow’s whiskey program? The bar manager emphasizes that his team “is not shy” about ordering new, local and artisanal products. With about 60 bottles, including 20-30 single malt Scotches and seven Japanese selections, everyone can find something to enjoy.
The Local Eatery & Pub,
Opened last year in the spot that formerly housed High Street Grille, the Local emphasizes local food, beer and spirits in a comfortable pub-like environment. Though patrons can find some familiar names on the whiskey menu, it’s more likely they’ll be tempted try small-batch offerings like Berkshire Bourbon Smoke & Peat, Cooper River Rye and Hudson Single Malt.
The Peacock Inn,
With a list of bourbons and non-blended Scotches that numbers more than 100, not including the Peacock Inn’s own Single Barrel Select Buffalo Trace bourbon, it’s easy for bar staff to craft eight themed flights and a separate menu for cask-strength and single-barrel selections.
The Ryland Inn
, Whitehouse Station
It’s a numbers game at the Ryland Inn, with 40 Scotches originating all over Scotland but focusing on the islands, and 60 bourbons ranging from major producers to unique craft distillers.
Stage Left Steak,
Long known (but some might say underappreciated) for its deep whiskey list, Stage Left and its upstairs sister, Catherine Lombardi, house a 250-bottle collection that includes bottles from India, Japan and France. With almost 100 choices of Scotch alone, Catherine Lombardi management opens one super-premium spirit every Thursday evening for patrons to try at cost.
The Stewed Cow
Whiskeys comprise 120 of the exclusively American beers and spirits bartenders pour in this pseudo country joint (replete with a mechanical bull). With such an emphasis on brown spirits, patrons can feel welcome to pick servers’ brains and sample whiskey flights so that they leave with an education instead of just a pleasant buzz.