DAYTON PROUD: We’ve got something that Cincinnati, Columbus don’t: one of ‘America’s Best Bourbon Bars 2019’

‘The Bourbon Review,’ an industry publication, chooses downtown Dayton’s Century Bar for 7th consecutive year

No bar in Columbus, or Cincinnati, or Toledo, or even Cleveland proper, made the list, but downtown Dayton’s The Century Bar has scored a national shout-out from The Bourbon Review as one of America’s Best Bourbon Bars 2019.

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In a web story dated yesterday, Aug. 28, the Bourbon Review heaped praise on a total of 118 bourbon bars in the country, including 20 in the Midwest (not including Kentucky’s bourbon country).  This is actually the seventh consecutive year that The Century Bar has scored a shout-out from this industry publication, which decided this year to expand the pool of recipients a bit from last year’s America’s 100 Best Bourbon Bars.

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That expansion didn’t add any new Ohio bourbon bars to the list. The only other Ohio bar recognized was the Oak and Embers Tavern in Chesterland, Ohio, east of Cleveland. A half-dozen bourbon bars across the river from Cincinnati made the list, but none on the Ohio side of the Cincinnati metropolis. 

The magazine focuses primarily on Chicago in the Midwest portion of its story, but gave The Century a special shout-out: “For those who love bourbon in the Buckeye State, Dayton dive The Century Bar is a steady favorite.” 

Wait what ... “Dayton Dive??” The place has HISTORY. But we’ll forgive the terminology in exchange for the recognition. 

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The Century dates back to 1942 under that name and that location. The location’s history as a bar dates back even before then. Steffen’s, a male-only “coffee shop,” opened three years after the Great Dayton Flood of 1913. 

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Here’s how the Bourbon Review described their methodology in selecting America’s Best Bourbon Bars 2019:

Bars on our list don’t just have expansive whiskey menus. Well okay, they definitely do, but there’s more to being one of America’s Best Bourbon Bars than that. We look for creative cocktail and food menus that use bourbon in unexpectedly delicious ways. We look for private barrel selections, showing the personalized palates on each team. And most importantly, we look for staff members who are passionate about sharing their wealth of bourbon knowledge with their guests.

Century Bar's summer cocktail "Remember the Maine" made with Rye Whiskey, Cherry Liqueur, Bitters, Bulleit Rye and Sweet Vermouth. JIM WITMER/STAFF

The continuing recognition from Bourbon Review is not the only national acclaim that has been heaped upon The Century. In February 2015, Men’s Journal magazine’s website declared The Century one of the “10 Best Bourbon Bars in America,” describing it as “a small bar with a huge bourbon list, The Century is as devoted to the whiskey as any other place in America.”

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And in October 2014, The Century made a list of the 15 best bourbon bars in America assembled by

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