Every spirit has its own personality. Vodka is bright and cheerful; tequila is sensual and a bit sloppy; gin is no-nonsense and driven; rum is reckless and bold. Then there's whiskey.
Whiskey is sexy and sullen and a bit mean. It's a spirit that plays hard to get and then slaps you across the face when you least expect it. And that's just how you like it.
Saturday is World Whiskey Day, so it's the perfect time to raise a toast to the fickle amber goddess: the most demanding, and satisfying, drinking partner of them all.
To help you decide what kind of whiskey to drink and why, I asked a few of my favorite whiskey lovers and bartenders what their favorite whiskey is at the moment. Here's a sampling of their responses:
Cedd Moses, founder and president of 213 Ventures, which owns the stellar whiskey bar, Seven Grand, and the world-class mixology bar, the Varnish: "George T. Stagg, because it's the king of American whiskey ... only one uncut and unfiltered. 140-plus in proof means it's definitely not for sissies."
Aidan Demarest, owner of Neat in Glendale and partner in the consulting firm Tello Demarest Liquid Assets: "I'm loving Johnny Walker Double Black right now. It's bold and bright and gets me through the night."
Marcos Tello, partner in the consulting firm Tello Demarest Liquid Assets, which just revamped the L.A. Athletic Club's 100-year-old bar, christening it "Invention": "Rye, Van Winkle 13; bourbon, Rock Hill Farms; Scotch, Laphroaig 18; Japanese, Nikka "Yoichi" Single Malt 10. All of these are extraordinary marks and are benchmark spirits in their categories!"
Julian Cox, mixologist and cocktail consultant whose projects include Sotto, Rivera, Short Order and Bestia: "My favorite whiskey ever would be Balvenie 17-year rum cask. They age this whiskey for 17 years and then transfer it into traditional Jamaican rum casks for an additional two months. This particular whiskey is no longer available, but if you find it, it's a treasure."
Tricia Alley, director of mixology at Southern Wine & Spirits: "Lately I've been favoring Hirsch Selection Small Batch Bourbon Reserve. It's really complex and has characteristics of dried fruit and nice savory tones that lend it to so many pairings for aromatic or refreshing summer cocktails."
Joe Brooke, former head of mixology at Mixology 101 and cocktail consultant: "Knob Creek! You never forget your first."
Christiaan Rollich, lead mixologist at A.O.C. and Lucques: "I am a big fan of the St. George Single Malt, they were one of the first in the U.S. to make single malts. They use bourbon casks, refill St. George Single Malt casks, French oak, port barrels, and sherry barrels. It is a bit rougher around the edges than a bourbon, it goes down very smooth, but you won't forget you are having a drink."
Pablo Moix, mixologist and cocktail consultant whose most recent project, with partner Steve Livigni, is Old Lightning in Venice: "Parker's Heritage. They just put out the sixth edition. They are all amazing -- they mix up proofs, barrels and whiskey styles. For the price, you can't beat the quality!"
John Coltharp, formerly of Seven Grand and The Parish: "Rock Hills Farms Bourbon. Chocolate and cherries with a hint of spice. 100 proof, so it can be served neat or on a cube. Great value and possibly the best bourbon for an Old Fashioned."