Whiskey heaven

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Barrel 44 has been getting its Short North once-over.

Curious faces stop in regularly, wondering what to make of this self-proclaimed whiskey bar that opened Oct. 1.

Behind the small, high tables and a bar so shiny it looks wet, Dave Nguyen might seem familiar. In his nine years bartending, he's worked at almost as many Columbus bars: Novak's, Brazenhead, Skully's and Skye Bar are just a few.

He's really enjoying Barrel 44, though.

"I'm just a Scotch drinker," Nguyen said, adding that wasn't a requirement to get hired. "It helped on a resume."

What's the idea behind the bar, and what's it like?

People have been wondering what it's going to be like, and I would go so far as to say the only thing that they expected to happen that actually happened was that we have whiskey. And we do have tons of whiskey - not enough, and we're actually getting way more. I think people were expecting a lot of dark wood, [something that] doesn't look as contemporary as this.

I really do feel like everyone should be here. There's no pretentiousness here. Everything here is a double shot. But we don't charge double prices. Which I think might make us pretty popular.

What's on the menu?

The chef is out of Miami, so there's a lot of emphasis on seafood. And I haven't had a chance to try everything, but everything I've tried has been awesome. People are raving about the crab cakes. The Whiskey Chicken Penne is really good.

I assume whiskey's what people are coming in to drink?

Blanton's is going like crazy. And as far as the Scotches, it's Laphroaig.

What do you like to drink?

Whiskey. Always whiskey. It's usually Jack, Glenlivet.

What do you like most about bartending?

I used to be a shy, sullen, angry loner kid. And when I became a bartender, I couldn't be that. I like feeling popular, because I was never popular as a kid.

What's the worst part?

I sell people a product that makes them stupider. And it works, pretty effectively.

What do you think you'd be doing if you weren't bartending?

Probably working 9 to 5, with the rest of the zombies.

Do you think you could do that? Most of the bartenders I talk to say they couldn't.

No, I couldn't. I don't know, maybe I'd be a street mime or something. Circus performer.

What else do you like to do?

I read a lot. Like, a lot. I'm a huge poker player. I'm terrible at it, but I love it.

Barrel 44

1120 N. High St., Short North 614-294-2277thebarrel44