Reserve 101, my pick for Downtown’s best whiskey bar, is celebrating its 10th anniversary tomorrow, January 18.
Since its opening in 2008, owners Mike Raymond and Steve Long have committed to providing one of the most unique and in-depth whiskey experiences a patron can have, without being too self-serious. The bar has grown into a premier spot not only for its very wide and deep selections of whiskeys and unique cocktails but also for the special tasting events and the rare, one-of-a-kind private bottlings it secures for its collection. The bar boasts over 340 whiskeys from 14 different countries, in addition to a selection of rare whiskeys and one-of-a-kind, hand-selected private bottlings.
"Simply put, the world was a different place 10 years ago," says Raymond. "The iPhone was only a year old and people were busy setting up their MySpace pages. Whiskey was still a sleeping giant and downtown Houston wasn't a nightlife destination. So a lot has changed and we look forward to continuing to evolve with the city and to be active participants in the growth of our city."
Among the highlights of the 10th anniversary party will include:
Ten drams for $10: Throughout the day, Reserve 101 will be offering pourings from rare and high-end bottles in their collections for $10, while they last. Among those pours include the Glenfiddich 40-year single-malt Scotch and the Parkers Heritage 24-year bourbon. Certain specialty cocktails crafted by the staff at Reserve 101 will also be available for $10 all day.
Exclusive reserve 101 bottlings: The bar will be serving unique selections from private bottlings throughout the day as well. This will be the first place you can try a private bottling from Balcones. Raymond collaborated with Balcones head distiller Jared Himstedt on a single-malt whiskey aged in European Oak and bottled at 112 proof, just short of cask strength. Raymond describes the flavor profile and texture of this whiskey as “big with maple and toffee notes on the nose and features a buttery, caramel palate with huge tannins that you’ll taste the next day.”
Raymond continued: “This is a really special bottling for a really special occasion. [Balcones brand ambassador] Winston [Edwards] and I have talked about releasing it for a good three years and we finally got the green light.” Pours of the Balcones exclusive will run $12.
Some other exclusive bottlings that will be offered at the anniversary party include Stranahan’s Colorado single malt, aged three years ($12); a seven-year Old Weller Antique that’s non-chill filtered ($10), and Reserve 101’s Makers Mark Private Select ($13). If the Makers is the same one I sampled when I was at the bar last month, I strongly recommend it, as they hand-selected the oak staves to age it on and have, as a result, crafted a big and rich bourbon full of flavor and a bold mouthfeel.
The party starts when the bar opens at 2 p.m. and lasts until close.