The private whiskey room at Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in River Oaks is an homage to rare and staple whiskey from around the world. The walls are lined with 300-plus bottles from every whiskey-producing region thanks to bar director Matt Sharp. Inside, you’ll find a small locker room where a select group of regulars stash their own prepurchased bottles from the restaurant’s immense selection to imbibe (with pomp) alongside their Bosscat Burger.
Inspired by the izakayas (casual gastropubs) of Tokyo, whiskey lockers were introduced to the U.S. market by early adopters like The Flatiron Room in New York City. In 2017, Four Seasons Hotel Houston brought the still-nascent trend to Space City with the opening of Bayou & Bottle, the upscale bourbon lounge in the hotel’s lobby.
The idea of walking into your favorite whiskey bar to a collection of fine bottles reserved for your consumption is a tantalizing prospect to some, like Mayor Sylvester Turner and chef Chris Shepherd, for instance, who each claim a locker at Bayou & Bottle. In his, Shepherd stocks several selections from Kentucky’s Willett Distillery, including Noah’s Mill Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Johnny Drum Black Label Bourbon, as well as the rarer Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey from Buffalo Trace.
Today, Bosscat and Bayou & Bottle are the only two Houston bars to offer private whiskey storage. Most programs require either a minimum spend (half locker for $1,000 or full for $2,000 at Bayou & Bottle) or a monthly locker rental (one year for $400 per month at Bosscat). Though perks abound: Key holders at Bosscat can dine in the private whiskey room with no minimum spend and have comped access to the restaurant’s whiskey tastings and whiskey dinner pairings. And at Bayou & Bottle, connoisseurs stay in the know about the venue’s free weekend tastings, plus they can bring their own bottles, not available from the bar, to keep locked away.