The end of another year means dressing up, dinner, and parties with friends, family, and coworkers. It’s a time for celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of another. A new year comes with hope for career advancement, luck in love, and whatever other aspirations you might have.
It’s also a time for drinking. When it comes to booze-fueled holidays, New Year’s Eve lands somewhere between St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco De Mayo. To say that we’ll have a few drinks on New Year’s Eve 2019 is the understatement of the decade. And our drink of choice is whiskey.
Jason Werth, bartender at Motif in Seattle, isn’t on our side on this one.
“I’m probably going to be in trouble for saying this, but my favorite whiskey to ring in the New Year is Champagne,” he says. “There are just certain occasions where only one drink is appropriate.”
Well, we strongly disagree. While it’s completely appropriate (and a must) to down a flute of sparkling wine right before the ball drops, we prefer to spend much of the evening sipping on a fine, aged whiskey. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to whiskeys for New Year’s Eve drinking.
The Macallan Rare Cask
Alli Torres, head bartender at Refinery Rooftop in New York City
New Year’s Eve is a night that exudes opulence and exclusivity, unlike any other holiday. People love getting dressed up, enjoying champagne with friends and loved ones…or, perhaps, a really nice Scotch. Macallan Rare Cask is one of the most exquisite scotches out there, handpicked from less than only 1% of the casks maturing.
For me, Rare Cask is the most elegant expression to sip on in colder months, especially when you’re dressed to the nines to watch the ball drop at twelve.
High West Campfire
Emmanuel “Manny” Pressley, bartender at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria, Virginia
My whiskey for this New Year’s Eve is High West Campfire Rye. I love how much camp-fire feel you actually get from this spirit. You can even double smoke this for an even more savory take on your favorite cocktail.
Blaum Bros. Oldfangled 10 Year Cask Strength
Kala Ellis, bar manager at O-Ku Bar in Nashville
For New Year’s Eve, Blaum Bros. Oldfangled 10 Year Cask Strength is the way to go. It’s fun, flavorful, and plays well with friends if you wants to mix it in a drink. It feels celebratory whenever you break it out. But it’s also easy to drink, despite being over-proof.
Belle Meade 10-Year-Old Bourbon
Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC
My favorite whiskey to drink on New Year’s Eve is Belle Meade 10-Year-Old bourbon. I love the fruitful and spicy baking spices palate. It will warm you up until (and after) the ball drops on a new year.
BenRiach 10-Year-Old Scotch
Devan Knobloch, bartender at Likewise in Atlanta
If I’m drinking whiskey on New Year’s Eve, I go for the classic BenRiach 10 Year as it is easy, enjoyable drinking. I feel classy and sophisticated, but I can also easily switch over to bubbles to ring in the New Year.
Copper Fox Single Malt
Melissa Mickles, manager at King of Clubs Brewing Company in Williamsburg, Virginia
My favorite whiskey for New Year’s Eve is Copper Fox Single Malt. We add this to our Capone mixed with our Guatemalan coffee and it truly warms you up on a cold night.
Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Scotch
Leia Pecotte, bartender at Tulio in Seattle
Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 year is what I’ll be ringing in the New Year with. Aged 14 years in regular oak then finishing in old rum barrels gives it such a wonderful aroma on the nose and hints of sweetness and vanilla. This whiskey truly develops with each sip.
Patrick Turner, bartender at B&O American Brasserie in Baltimore
For New Year’s Eve, I go for Blanton’s, big cube, double. It’s delicious enough to celebrate last year’s accomplishments and strong enough to let you forget last year’s foibles.
Pappy Van Winkle 23-Year-Old
Alejandro Dieguez, head bartender at J. Bespoke in New York City
For New Year’s Eve I would bring out the Pappy Van Winkle 23-year, because of how special and limited it is. You would want to save it for those types of special occasions.
Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon
Will Witherow, beverage director at Live Oak in Alexandria, Virginia
My go-to whiskey for New Year’s Eve is Evan Williams Black Label. Evan Williams makes a wonderful and very affordable Bourbon. For New Years Eve there is a good chance you need a versatile whiskey to appease all different types of drinker. Evan Williams is great in a cocktail, a highball or neat.
Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Japanese Whisky
Jef Tate, head bartender at Janitor’s Closet in Chicago
Yamazaki 12 – I had a few glasses of this last New Year’s Eve, and I have had a pretty amazing 2019. Might have to repeat this ritual. Floral, even tropical rose. Warming spices and an almost rum-like finish. Great way to celebrate the beginning of the new year.
William Larue Weller Bourbon
Wade McElroy, director of food and beverage at Fieldhouse Jones in Nashville
For New Year’s Eve you should go for something rare and celebratory. I would lean towards a rare find like William Larue Weller or a Japanese whisky like literally anything from Nikka.