Valentine’s Day is pretty emotionally complex, for a holiday. While Christmas, Halloween, and even Groundhog Day are full of fun and excitement even if you’re single, Valentine’s Day can be bit of a bummer if you’re unattached. The gooey, heart-shaped, chocolate-covered holiday is specifically marketed to those in love. This means that if you’re single you end up either on Tinder (not a bad fix!), totally ambivalent (neutral solution), or utterly depressed (worst-case-scenario) on February 14th.
Regardless of how you deal with your single status, you might like a dram of whiskey. Tony Abou Ganim, master mixologist and bar consultant at Highlands in Detroit believes there are different kinds of love to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, but thinks they all deserve high proof booze.
“Valentine’s Day should be the day we all celebrate love,” he says. “Even if it’s simply loving life and loving one’s self. But if we must also include a dram that is fitting to drown one’s sorrows, we need to look to barrel proof whiskey to get the job done.”
Not all bartenders believe that the day should be filled with glassed of ridiculously high proof whiskey. That’s why we asked some of our favorite drink masters to tell us the best whiskeys to sip when single on the most coupled up day of the year.
Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Emily Kraus, national beverage manager for Wolfgang Puck Catering
Woodford Reserve. Don’t spend a ton of money to drown your sorrows or buying rounds for a person you’re not totally sure of. Woodford is a great option for the price point — delicious and smooth to sip on the rocks and it makes my favorite Old Fashioned.
Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky
Emmanuel “Manny” Pressley, bartender at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria, Virginia
My fiancée and I celebrate each Valentine’s Day with a Japanese Whisky. It’s usually Suntory Toki, which is a personal favorite. It is very flavor-forward, has lots of background spices, and stands out in an Old Fashioned. I guess that didn’t answer the question but… it’s good for single folks too!
Christopher Longoria, beverage director for Che Fico in San Francisco
It’s important to select the right whiskey for Valentine’s Day. You pretty much can’t go wrong with Booker’s bourbon. It has enough heat to light up your love and enough sting to ease the pain if things go sideways.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
Abraham Millett, head bartender at Plunge Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Now, if you are drowning your sorrows, I always have found Jack Daniel’s does the trick. It’s just fitting, I mean who cares what you drown your sorrows with so long as it drowns them? Don’t spend too much. Drowning your sorrows can get expensive.
Angel’s Envy Rye
Anthony Merlino, beverage director at Bergamo’s in New York City
Angel’s Envy Rye. This beauty spends up to 18 months finishing in rum cask resulting in a complex whiskey. Sweet notes of rum, caramel candy, vanilla and sherry wood provide the perfect balance of sweetness for anyone looking to connect or checking in to Heartbreak Hotel.
Old Maysville Club Rye
Liran Leibman, executive chef and beverage expert at Zizi’s in Chicago
Whiskey for me is a very dramatic, melancholy drink. I’ve never celebrated a win with a whiskey or a whiskey cocktail, I’ll tell you that much. When I’m looking to cope with sadness, I reach for Old Maysville Club Rye Whiskey, bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Pure Rye Malt Whiskey Distilled and Bottled by The Pogue Family. Rye for me has the perfect sweetness, and there’s something about bottling in bond style, that makes every whiskey a unique, warming adventure. It drinks smoothly and it’s very comforting.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon
Tony Abou Ganim, master mixologist and bar consultant at Highlands in Detroit
Rare Breed from the folks at Wild Turkey would be my choice for Valentine’s. It is a beautiful marriage and celebration of 6, 8, and 12-year-old whiskeys mingled together and bottled at barrel strength. It is a whiskey I discovered while working at one of the most romantic bars in America, the Starlight Room in San Francisco, circa 1995. It immediately became a favorite of mine then and continues to be to this day.
Rich and mellow this whiskey kicks off with a bold, spicy start leading to dried fruits – raisins and dates — before revealing baked apples with cinnamon and sugar, honey sweetness, and a long finish which lingers with notes vanilla and marzipan.
Miki Nikolic, beverage director at Double Dealer in New Orleans
Blanton’s bourbon is the right pick for easing V-Day tensions. It’s so smooth, and consistently puts a smile on my face after a long day at work (just like my wife does).
Uncle Nearest 1884 Whiskey
Kala Ellis, bar manager at O-Ku in Nashville
On Valentine’s Day, my go-to whiskey is Uncle Nearest 1884. It’s got a clean finish and has rich notes of praline and stone fruit. We actually feature it in a classic daiquiri ratio with a plum syrup. It’s Incredibly easy to drink. It has a beautiful history. And to me, nothing is more romantic than a good story.
Copper Fox Apple Brandy Barrel Finished Rye
Patrick Turner, bartender at B & O Brasserie in Baltimore
I’m a sucker for sap and will always choose to celebrate on Valentine’s Day. That said, I’ll happily share a round of Copper Fox’s Apple Brandy Barrel Finish with anyone who needs to drown some sorrow. Hopefully a rye that good will help lonely hearts get their groove back.
High West Double Rye
Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC
I think the best whiskey to drown your sorrows (or celebrate love!) on Valentine’s Day is High West Double Rye. It’s spicy enough to drink neat and alone but it’s also a great addition to a cocktail at a bar with your date or potential love.
Craigellachie 13-Year-Old Scotch Whisky
James MacInnes, bar manager at KYU in Miami
Oh man, that’s a tough one. I have a few favorites that I’ve been known to cycle through but currently, it’s Craigellachie 13. Hailing from the Scottish Speyside and boasting warming flavors of honey and apple, this delicate and rich whisky has a little something for everyone on V-Day.
Caol Ila 12-Year-Old Scotch Whisky
Darron Foy, head bartender at The Flatiron Room in New York City
Caol Ila 12. This was the first whisky that my wife and I enjoyed together. Every time I drink it, it takes me back to Islay. It’s a criminally underrated whisky with beautiful notes of vanilla, black pepper, pear, and malted barley. The palate is oily with medium phenols, with some ash and light brine. I’m such a fan of this whisky, and thankfully so is my lovely wife.
Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon
Melissa Carroll, bar manager at Fisk & Co. in Chicago
Remus Repeal Reserve Series III, because if I’m looking to celebrate, or drown my sorrows, I want to do so in moderation with a spirit that lifts mine. This beautiful whiskey is a slow sipper with incredible notes of candied, stewed red fruit, baking spice, dark chocolate, and a bit of leather. And at the end of the day, a perfect whiskey is my one true love.
Henry McKenna 10-Year-Old Bourbon
Maxwell Reis, beverage director at Gracias Madre in Los Angeles
Why not save yourself some cash for date night while still drinking to impress with Henry McKenna 10? It never disappoints, and nothing says “ready for love” like ballin’ on a budget with the 2019 Whiskey of the Year.