For the past four years I’ve been helping to co-curate the Whiskey Society at Seven Grand, hosting monthly (and often weekly) tastings, featuring Master Distillers and Brand Ambassadors from Ireland, Scotland, England, Japan, Australia, Kentucky, Tennessee and all over America. We seek to educate and explore the wide world of whiskies, making it accessible and understandable for anyone who wants to learn. We’ve been blessed with great success.
The Whiskey Society events provide a forum that goes way beyond Brand Marketing. Meetings are crowded and intimate, encouraging community interaction through the sharing of sensory experience. We sip together and try to decipher the spirits dancing on our tongues. Food words. Laughable descriptions. By connecting ourselves more deeply to our sense of taste and smell, we’re growing our ability to enjoy more, expanding awareness and appreciation of life. Stories of the distilleries and the towns built around them, give us a sense of place and identity.
I know this sounds like a lot of romantic crap, but we really do offer this with honesty and humility. We’ve been serious from the beginning in our efforts to create a community hub in DTLA. When we first opened, the storefronts across the street from us were completely empty, from Olive to Grand on 7th. We were the only business open after 6pm on our block. We used the buddy system to get to our cars after closing. Seven years later and the block is now called the ’7th Street Corridor,’ bustling with restaurants, boutiques and salons: Chilean fusion, East L.A. Soulfood, Italian Metropol, hundreds of new apartments in 2 renovated buildings across the street, and all of this started during the greatest economic downturn in U.S. history.
We are grateful but also very aware of the problems that still exist, homelessness and the lack of adequate social services; we often do Whiskey Society events in benefit for the good fight. We try to lead by example in our community. The Whiskey Society is about enjoyment and exploration, and expansion of understanding. We are not claiming to be authorities on whiskey, rather avid enthusiasts and students, ourselves. Celebrants of a life well-lived.
We have created dozens of flight menus and offer whiskey tastings the main bar, but when it gets really busy (a wonderful problem to have) our barkeeps must switch gears. We can cannot always give the in-depth tasting experience we would like to provide, we have to surf the wave, not fight the tide. We are a high-volume bar, and do our best to accommodate as many people as possible, whenever we’re open.
Last year our GM Andrew got to travel to Japan (along with Angus our VP and Brett the San Diego GM) to visit distilleries and learn about the Japanese history of whiskey-making. While there, they were quite taken by the Tokyo bar scene, small bars where the hospitality was supreme, specificity intense, and experience unforgettable. Upon return, Andrew began plotting a new project that would enable us to emulate that style of service in Los Angeles, personalized and intimate, but accessible to everyone. He proposed opening a new bar in the Jackalope Room at Seven Grand, where we hold our Whiskey Society meetings.
It’s been several months and a whole lot of work since inception, but we recently opened Bar Jackalope in the back room at Seven Grand. Whiskey Society members will know where to go, but might be confused at first. The door pull is now gone and the windows of the back room door covered-over. There is a small button switch on the wall that turns on a light. The door is opened for you, and if there’s room, you are seated. If the room is full, your name and phone number are noted, and you will receive a text when your table is ready. We do not take reservations, there is no admission charge, seating is first-come, first-served.
I don’t want to go into the details of service too much here, I would rather you come experience it first-hand. We are open 9pm to 1:30am, Sunday through Thursday. We are a sipping lounge and tasting library, we have books and magazines, a cigar patio with 2 smoking tables, a phonograph record player, hand-carved ice, crazy whiskies and I’ve already said way too much. Come check it.
Pedro, currently sipping Four Roses 7G Single Barrel, 2013. Whoa. Wedding party whiskey.
Pedro Shanahan, Spirit Guide,
Seven Grand Whiskey Bar
Co-curator, Whiskey Society