Tara Morgan worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.
Trade in the unpredictable outdoor gloom for an oh-so-reliable indoor standby: A cozy barstool and nice glass of whiskey. Whether it’s a perfectly balanced Boulevardier or a three-finger splash of bourbon on the rocks, these six Boise bars offer exceptional experiences for whiskey fans and connoisseurs, alike.
With a massive selection that runs the gamut from single malt scotch to rare bourbons to Japanese whiskeys, Whiskey Bar is a whiskey lover’s paradise. If you’re looking to sample something new, try one of the wood-hewn bar’s flights, which offer three, 1 oz. tasters of everything from blended scotches to ryes. Whiskey Bar also offers a sizeable selection of cocktails, including house classics like the West 509—with Four Roses, almond simple and bitters in a smoked glass—or the oh-so-smooth seasonal Bootleg, with Knob Creek, barrel smoked maple, Averna, muddled dates and walnut bitters.
The Gas Lantern Drinking Company
Keep the smoked booze train rolling at The Gas Lantern, a craft cocktail bar with large windows overlooking Capitol Boulevard. This spot specializes in eclectic drinks—like the Smoke & Thyme with Elijah Craig, smoked lemon, whiskey bitters, and thyme—finished in a small glass chamber filled with fresh oak smoke. The resulting libation has a light lick of smokiness shimmering on the surface. If smoke isn’t your thing, the Gas Lantern also offers other whiskey-based cocktails, like the hard-to-pronounce-but-easy-to-drink L’Abeille de la Nouvelle-Orléans, made with Four Roses, brûléed blood orange, Madagascar vanilla and woodford barrel aged bitters.
Gil’s K9 is an old school, no-fuss neighborhood joint, perched on the corner of Main and 25th Streets. Though the place doesn’t promote their whiskey list or even have a menu detailing their numerous options, the bourbon selection is surprisingly ample. Grab a stool mid-way down the long bar in front of the brown liquor and pick your poison. Each bottle has a small sticker with pricing that ranges from $20 a glass for 22-year-old Orphan Barrel to $8 for Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye. This spot also serves mini craft beers, like Crux’s excellent porter, to sip on while you savor your bourbon.
Art Haus/Ampersand Bar
Located in the sprawling space on 9th and Main Streets that was once home to Angell’s Renato, the Art Haus and Ampersand bars are twin brainchildren of the Kin crew, which formerly ran State & Lemp. The eclectic spaces are part vintage library and part dark watering hole. While the Ampersand side is frequently rented out for private events, the Art Haus side is the more casual after work drink destination. Belly up to the brass bar adorned with golden elephants and order an off-menu Boulevardier—basically, a Negroni made with equal parts whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari—served in a vintage rocks glass. Snag a seat in a plush chair and crack open one of the joint’s many cookbooks, everything from Bar Tartine to Prune to Joe Beef, and disappear for a while.
Looking to treat yourself? Make your way to the Owyhee Tavern to sample some of the country’s most coveted whiskeys. The bar has a sizeable collection of Pappy Van Winkle—including the 10, 12, 15, 20 and 23-year versions—which range from $15 to $150 per glass. The spot also serves 40 or so other bourbons, 20 scotches, and classic whiskey cocktails, like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. If you head down during happy hour, you can also snag an assortment of bar snacks like oysters on the half shell or spicy ahi wonton tacos at a discount.
10th Street Station
Located in the basement of the Idanha Hotel, 10th Street Station proudly promotes itself as the “home of the heavy pour since 1982.” And they’re not messing around. This subterranean saloon serves some of the amplest whiskey pours in town. Whether you want to go high brow with Redbreast 12 neat, or keep it classic with Eagle Rare on the rocks, 10th Street’s bartenders will make sure your glass is never empty and the popcorn keeps flowing all night long.
Please drink responsibly.
Feature image credited to Tara Morgan.
Tara Morgan is a freelance food + booze writer and co-owner of the company Wild Plum Events. She loves an epic dinner party, good design, bad puns and pretty much every French rosé ever made.
Published on March 14, 2019