Sipping Stories | Hard Water

450 bottles of whiskey on the wall

No taps. Just whiskey.

Besides having the coolest name on the block, Hard Water, on San Francisco’s Pier 3, also has a collection of over 450 whiskeys for your tasting pleasure. Although still in its infancy as a craft, American Whiskey, like beer before it, is exploding onto the bar scene with a younger, more diverse crowd championing it every step of the way. Over the past few years Michael, a well versed connoisseur and whiskey concierge at Hard Water, has been exploring the depths of previously uncharted waters to sniff out the best and brightest brands fit for a spot on their top shelf. It was he who explained to us that bourbon, much like champagne's kinship to France, is a regional export only labelled as such if it comes out of the USA. While discovering new brews can be a good time —  and trust us it is —  Hard Water also prides itself on the revolving door of one of a kinds that pass through their private stock. Names like Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace Antique Collection are precious commodities, but it’s the rare flights that really put this staff over the moon.

Hard Water has an all inclusive mentality. Knowledgeable staff comes to the aid of novices out to try something new, while world renowned whiskey brands such as Parker’s Heritage and Willett Family Estate single barrels excite the expertise of more authoritative tastes. They’ve even started purchasing private barrels to give Hard Water patrons an air of exclusivity in a newly burgeoning market. In a city like San Francisco, where the food is bar none and the clientele sophisticated, one thing is for certain: Hard Water has a whiskey suited to complement any situation.


For readers not in the San Francisco area who would like to become a bit more versed in the ways of whiskey, here are our top 5 favorites (as sampled at Hard Water) worth adding to your collection.


5. Michter's American Whiskey

4. Journeyman Last Feather Rye

3. Westland Sherry Wood Single Malt

2. Low Gap Blended Whiskey

1. McKenzie Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

Video Editor: Andrea Puente
Written by: Anthony Nelson