American Whiskey wants to be clear: it isn’t a bourbon bar with an attitude. It has a sprawling space, a wide selection of whiskey, broad customer appeal, and a welcoming nature.
Two floors and 6,500 square feet, the space has an upstairs balcony with a bar, a restaurant area and a long, spacious bar downstairs, with mounted bison heads watching those imbibing below.
The space is filled with 37 TVs, but avoids the sports bar vibe with its sheltered tables and booths, a warm glow, and a thoughtful menu. Not to mention the supply of 170 American whiskies, 20 Scotch whiskies, and 20 more Irish and world whiskeys.
“We can give anyone who walks in the experience they want,” said partner and beverage director Jon Howard.
Everyone on the team at American Whiskey is considered a “partner” but the managing parters are Kevin Hooshangi, Robbie York, Casey Pratt, and Roger Jacobsen. Jon Howard and Jessica Duré are also crucial to the operations. They hail from all over, including Georgia, Alabama, and New Jersey, and each bring a unique skill set to the operation, which contributes to making the bar a diverse space. Jon said he sees the bar as “a reflection of us.”
They were all friends and had worked all over New York, in every kind of bar imaginable. They had talked about starting a business, but it took them a while to solidify the plan. The current whiskey revolution took off, and the team seized on whiskey as the unifying concept.
“We’ve always liked whiskey,” said Kevin. “I always equate bourbon with jazz music, in that they are both inherently American art. It’s our native spirit. I kind of think every bottle we have and every bottle out there has a story.”
Jon was brought on to create a cocktail menu, and the chef, Roger, previously at Enoteca and Blue Water Grill, created a gourmet menu based on the friends’ long-time idea of “making good bar food,” Robbie said.
“We wanted to be a really great cocktail bar in a neighborhood that needs something different,” said Robbie.
The menus for the cocktails and food change every three months, but two cocktails always remain, the best sellers and signature American Whiskey drinks: Giggle Water, and Strike Me Dead. The food menu is seasonal, so ingredients and dishes can be swapped out depending on what is available.
“We don’t turn our nose up at anything,” said Kevin. “Whiskey is for everyone.” That attitude has given the bar an approachable quality. American Whiskey only opened last September, but has already hosted a number of events, including an one with Maker’s Mark’s Bill Samuels. Although it isn’t just the warm business nature of American Whiskey that brings events to the establishment. The size of the space lends itself well to hosting.
“You want to hold an event for 80 people, you can either buy out a bar, or you can just use our upstairs,” said Kevin.
Every Tuesday, starting in the fall and running through spring, American Whiskey holds whiskey tastings. The bar has been continuously busy since opening last fall, or as Robbie put it, “bombarded with crowds.”
“We just like to have fun,” said Robbie.
247 W. 30th St. (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
Sunday - Tuesday: 12:00pm - 12:00 am
Wednesday - Saturday: 12:00 pm - 2:00 am