A new bar has opened in the city centre which boasts the largest collection of American whiskeys in Bristol.
Double Barrel Bar , formerly the steakhouse Chomp , opened earlier this month, offering a wide selection of cocktails, craft beer and over 100 types of whiskey to its customers.
Owner Jake Black turned the former restaurant, located on St Nicholas Street, into a bar after a disruptive year in hospitality due to Covid-19.
Jake, 40, who also owns the Bristol Distilling Co, is passionate about American whisky, and decided to introduce a bar for fellow whisky enthusiasts, as well as create a fun drinking spot for revellers in Bristol.
Jake added: “We want to celebrate American whisky but also run a great neighbourhood bar with craft beer, a great cocktail list and a great bar to drink in the centre of town.”
The 100-strong whisky collection is growing all the time and it includes a selection of rare brands, some of which can only be bought in the USA.
Jake’s personal favourite, the Pikesville 6 Year Old 110 Proof Straight Rye , can be found amongst the impressive collection above the bar.
He explained: “Before we started, my wife and I did a big research tour around the US, and I spent a bit of time in Kentucky visiting big and small bourbon distilleries.
“So there’s been a fair amount of research getting to this point, it’s a culmination of many years of work.”
The music at Double Barrel Bar also reflects the American theme with folk, rock and American being the preferred choice.
“We enjoy music with a transatlantic nod but essentially we play anything that’s good to drink whisky to”, Jake said.
Double Barrel Bar came to fruition after a tumultuous eighteen months for Jake and his team at Chomp, beginning with the closure of the steakhouse in March 2020.
Jake recalled: “We were running the restaurant Chomp alongside the Bristol Distilling Co. before the world came to a juddering halt in March last year.”
Whilst Chomp was forced to close, the distillery in Bedminster started making hand sanitizer during the first national lockdown.
“Most time time was just that feeling of horrible uncertainty”, Jake recalled.
“It felt like the lockdown just went on and on forever.”
Even when Covid-19 restrictions eased in the summer of 2020, Chomp did not reopen over concerns the enclosed space would deter customers.
Instead, Jake decided to bring his two businesses together and opened The Taproom, a bar at his distillery in Bedminster.
He said: “It’s a big open warehouse with space outside and ventilation, so people felt very comfortable there last summer and during the height of Covid.”
But in April 2021, the bar continued to struggle with mid-week trade as Jake admitted Bristol’s City Centre had still not fully revived.
He recalled: “I felt like the timing wasn’t right so we put the place back on ice until now, when we’ve come up with a more rounded bar concept of the Double Barrel Bar.”
Whilst hospitality continues to face challenges, Jake remains optimistic about the future of his businesses and plans to open the kitchen and start serving food at the Double Barrel Bar in the months ahead.
On Saturday, 13 November, The Bristol Distilling Co. is hosting an event to open a new, three-year-old barrel of whisky named Black’s Double Barrel .
A handful of whisky lovers have already pre-ordered samples.
The bourbon was originally bought in the America, and has been stored and then re-barrelled in oak containers for three years, meeting the UK’s requirement of what can officially be classified ‘whisky’.
“The process of re-barrelling doubly accentuates the oak barrel characteristics, and is partly behind the name Double Barrel Bar ”, Jake explained.