Kimball House

2018’s JBFA Nominated Bars Reveal Their Most Treasured (and Most Used) Bottles

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The James Beard Awards might be more well-known for shining a spotlight on talented chefs across the country, but they also honor our favorite industry professionals: bartenders. Every year, the committee nominates bars for the prestigious Outstanding Bar Program award. This year, the award is sponsored by Woodford Reserve Bourbon, and there are six incredible nominees: Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston, TX), Bar Agricole (San Francisco, CA), Clyde Common (Portland, OR), Cure (New Orleans, LA), Kimball House (Decatur, GA) and Trick Dog (San Francisco, CA). Though you might not be able to make it out to every one of these rarified bars, you can drink like their award-nominated bartenders—or, at least, you can aspire to. Here, the talented folks behind these incredible bars reveal their most precious, covetable bottles (which we can only drool over), as well as the bottles they use the most.

Anvil Bar & Refuge

Bobby Heugel

Co-owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge

Most Treasured Bottle: Highland Park 40 Year Old
“That is our ‘Break-Even Bottle.’ We always have a higher end bottle on the back bar that we sell to guests at cost (or without a markup at all) one ounce at a time, so that we can make some of these insanely expensive spirits accessible to our guests. That’s a pretty special opportunity and bottle.”

Most Used Bottle: Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon
“We pour more Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon than anything else. The people like their Bonded Old Fashioneds.”

jennifer yin / Flickr

Craig Lane

Head bartender of Bar Agricole

Most Treasured Bottle: Chateau de Ravignan 1985 Armagnac
“For the past six years, we have been traveling to Armagnac with our friend and colleague, Charles Neal, as part of an ongoing effort to showcase region specific, grower-producer brandies at Bar Agricole by featuring them in our cocktails. Though we have met and formed partnerships with great producers from top tier domaines throughout France, no one has been able to captivate our imagination more than Josselin de Ravignan. An avid surfer and a student of the French horn, Josselin cuts an impressive figure with impeccably coiffed hair framing cherubic features that can only be matched by his unparalleled sartorial elegance. It's as if he were a French duke from the 18th century inexplicably transported to our timeline, yet he managed to adapt himself effortlessly to modern technology like cell phones and cars, whilst still preserving his arcane regal demeanor. It has become one of our most anticipated visits every year since we first met him over four years ago, and the vintage brandies at Chateau de Ravignan are every bit as mesmerizing as Josselin's personality and style.”

Most Used Bottle: Chateau de Ravignan Armagnac
“The true workhorse on our drinks list is the Chateau de Ravignan Armagnac selection of Ugni Blanc, Bacco and Folle Blanche distilled in 2012 and bottled for us in 2017. Every year for the past four years it is one of nine brandy selections we make during our travels in January and sell throughout the rest of the year.”

Kimball House

Mile Macquarrie

Beverage director and co-owner of Kimball House

Most Treasured Bottle: Amer Picon
“We always like to keep a good stock of Amer Picon for Brooklyns and other classic cocktails. It is very hard to come by outside of France. Anytime any of our regulars travel to France we always politely ask to bring some back to us.”

Most Used Bottle: Wellerhaus
“I don't know if we use this more than anything else, but we use quite a bit of something that we call Wellerhaus. It is equal parts Weller 107 and Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond. It is a delicious cocktail ready blend of bourbon and rye and comes in at 103.5 proof.” 

Trick Dog

Josh Harris and Morgan Schick

Co-owners of Trick Dog

Most Treasured Bottle: Single-Barrel Mellow Corn Whiskey from Heaven Hill
“We are one of the two bars in the nation that have successfully purchased a single barrel of this bonded corn whiskey from Heaven Hill, and we keep it stocked in the bar at all times. Each bottle has a Trick Dog label at the bottom.”

Most Used Bottle: Tequila Ocho
“We use Tequila Ocho on every single menu. It’s also the spirit in our most-ordered cocktail, the Baby Turtle (with Campari, grapefruit juice, lime juice and egg white). It was on the first menu and it’s the only one we make upon request, outside of whatever the current menu is. People always come in asking for it, so we’ve gotten used to making it on the fly.”

Cure

Neal Bodenheimer

Owner of Cure and Cane & Table

Most Treasured Bottle: Manuel Fernandez "White Label" Ojen
“This bottle probably doesn't mean much to most people, but in New Orleans it represents generations of culture. Tradition is so intertwined with how we live down here that, as I was searching the bar for my favorite bottle, I kept coming back to the old bottle of Ojen. Ojen is traditionally a Mardi Gras day drink of choice for the Krewe of Rex. After the absinthe ban in 1912, it was rumored that Ojen had the same psychoactive properties as absinthe, so naturally it became a popular Mardi Gras day option. This bottling represents the last run of Ojen from Spain that was commissioned by the Martin Family and eventually ran out, which left a hole in our Mardi Gras traditions until the Goldring Family revived a domestic version a few years ago.”

Most Used Bottle: Sazerac Rye
“We sell so many Sazeracs that it’s safe to say that it's the cocktail, and therefore the bottle, that keeps our lights on.”

Clyde Common

Jeff Morgenthaler

Bar manager at Clyde Common

Most Treasured Bottle: All of It
“We don't have any bottle that we treasure more than others. All of our liquor is stocked to be openly and freely available to anyone who wants it.”

Most Used Bottle: Elijah Craig
“We participate in a single barrel program with our good friends at Heaven Hill. We're on our sixth barrel of Elijah Craig in the past year. Obviously we use it all of the time.”

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