Nihon Whisky Lounge – Review

“Dangerous” means different things to different people. Some might consider walking across the street dangerous while others don’t really see danger coming until it appears as an irate, hungry, 8-foot tall grizzly bear ((Ursus arctos horribilis), barreling towards their remote campsite early in the morning before they’ve even had a chance to put on coffee.  Still others wave off these petty physical dangers and instead focus on true bottomless wells of feral temptation like the Nihon Whisky Lounge just a few blocks from my home.

Located just off the beaten path in the Mission, Nihon’s a dark, inviting, part industrial, part zen space that serves excellent and creative sushi and robata and features a towering wall of whiskies from all over the world.  They claim to have over 400 different bottles in their collection with nearly all available by the “taste”, glass (a measured pour) and bottle.  They also offer bottle storage, so you can keep your stash under lock and key for future tipplings. The malt menu is lengthy and very detailed…in fact, it makes pretty decent reading, so much so that I usually find myself trying to finesse the bartender for another 5 or 10 minutes to peruse the list.  The selection is impressive, distillery bottlings as well as independents, the usual stuff to the rare find.  Last time I visited, there was a bottle of Ardbeg Supernova, high up, lording over the other scotches.

The folks behind the bar are definitely whisky fans, very knowledgeable and very happy to talk about the stuff their pouring. There are inventive cocktails as well, most featuring whisky in some form or another, such as the refreshing “Final Word” (Pikesville Rye, Green Chartreuse, Luxardo Maraschino, and fresh lime served chilled and up in a martini glass).  I love that they offer the “taste” size, basically half a usual pour.  It’s enough to get a serious sense of the whisky but small (and inexpensive) enough to allow oneself…several.  It can get crowded on the weekends, but early evenings during the week are usually a perfect time to stop in an try dram or two, it’s not too crowded or loud and the bartenders have time to talk. Nihon’s a great whisky resource in San Francisco, a test and a true danger to my steely willpower.

1779 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-3711(
415) 552-4400

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