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A trip to 8 bars in search of delicious bourbon by Aly Casey

Dupont Circle was buzzing this weekend as bourbon enthusiasts descended upon the area eager to sample eight premium bourbons from eight different venues at the DC Bourbon Bash. Below I recount each of the eight stops, the bourbon and the awesome people we met along the way all for a good cause.

Part of the ticket sales, $55/person will go to the Lead The Way Fund which helps support U.S. Army Rangers who are injured, currently serving, or to help the families of Rangers who have died in combat. Cheers!

Upon check-in at either James Hoban’s or Buffalo Billiards participants receive a badge with what looks like a scavenger hunt map printed on it. The map is a list of all eight of the venues and along the sides of the badge gives one details about what bourbons are at each bar.  You can start in any order, but once you had your 1-ounce pour the barkeep punches a hole through the venue on your badge to ensure you don’t circle back with “Nope, me? Never been here, sir.”

The first stop is up to you as you can hit the bars in any order. The Science Club seems to be the best bet as it is the farthest south. The reasoning is to hit Science Club, head east to Bar Rouge, walk up 16th and cut due west to go to Board Room and Maddy’s before heading back into the fray that is Dupont Circle. This logic proves helpful as the out of the way bars are usually less packed than those right in Dupont Circle.

 Science Club (1136 19th St NW) is a lovely find and had Eagle Rare 10 year Single Barrel as well as Goose Island beer on special for $4. Science Club was unique in that they have an entirely vegan/vegetarian menu that is quite fantastic. The Eagle Rare bourbon is smooth with dry oaky flavors that lingered.

The next stop is Bar Rouge (Hotel Rouge Washington DC, 16th St NW) and one other group had the same idea. This is where you started to recognize other participants and friendly banter over bourbon began.  Bar Rouge is tucked into the Hotel Rogue, a Kimpton hotel, and has a rouge theme (it was very red). The bourbon on offer is Four Roses Yellow Label and had hints of pear and honey. It opened up quite well on a single cube of ice.

From Bar Rouge the journey continued onto the Board Room (1737 Connecticut Ave NW) where they are serving 1792 Ridgemont Reserve. This bourbon is aged over 8 years and has all of the characteristics of true Kentucky bourbon: full body and complex notes with a hint of honey. Board Room is a neat place and is full of games that you can play with your new bourbon-tasting friends.

Maddy’s is right across the street (1726 Connecticut Ave NW) and is the most pub-themed of the bars so far. The menu is full of American style goodies like burgers, country fried chicken, and pretzels. The bourbon served is Knob Creek. Knob Creek, upon pouring, is a deep amber color with notes of oak and caramel. Knob Creek ranks among one of the favorites from the Bourbon Bash so far.

Swinging over to the Mad Hatter (1319 Connecticut Ave NW) you are greeted with Makers Mark, which is subtle, yet complex with notes of vanilla and spice. The bars around Dupont Circle, and Mad Hatter in particular, are starting to fill up and become packed.  Not lingering too long (as there is a long wait at the bar) the next bar decided upon is Front Page.

Front Page (1333 New Hampshire Ave NW) is absolutely packed and you spot many of your bourbon-tasting friends as you edge your way towards the bar to get a taste of Four Roses Small Batch. This bourbon is slightly sweet with lingering notes of berries. Clinking glasses you all decide to hit up Buffalo Billiards, leaving James Hoban’s for last.

Buffalo Billiards (1333 New Hampshire Ave NW) is just as packed but has a little more space. There are a ton of games to choose from while you enjoy your Buffalo Trace bourbon. This bourbon has hints of vanilla and molasses and goes quite well with winning shuffleboard 3 times in a row as well as a BBQ pulled pork sandwich (c’mon BBQ goes perfectly with bourbon).

Last, but not least, is James Hoban’s (1 Dupont Cir NW). James Hoban’s was one of the busiest spots all day but was a good place to end as they have outdoor seating. It’s quite lovely to soak up the sun and show off your free new shades compliments of Yelp DC.  You chat with your new friends about the highs of the day (all the bourbons) and some of the lows (the heat, lord, the heat and smallish lines for bourbon). You smile and agree to meet up again next year for the Second Annual Bourbon Bash and get excited. Now, for one last bourbon.