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Craft Whiskey and Burgers at the Blind Donkey

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Where can you get craft whiskey from around the world, cocktails, beer, burgers and specially topped fries every night? At Blind Donkey, of course. The crushed grape is not found here, so no whining grape lovers. However, you can get a splash of Pinot Noir by asking for a California Sour, sip, and stick around for the amazing ambience or the Wednesday night trivia game.

The Pasadena Blind Donkey was such a hit that a second location in Long Beach opened its doors in 2014. Why start in Pasadena? "One of the partners is a Pasadena native and a graduate of Pasadena High School, so we were very familiar with the area," explains co-owner John Bower. "We love the mix of big city and close-knit community that Pasadena offers. It's a beautiful and vibrant community, and a great place to have a business."

What's up with the name Blind Donkey? It harks back to the way grain was ground for fermentation and distillation. "Basically, a donkey was harnessed to a grinding stone and made to walk around in circles," explains Bower. "The donkeys were blindfolded so they wouldn't spook and break the machine. It's our homage to toil and the beast of burden."

The main event here is the craft whiskey, with brands featured on a rotating basis, either straight up or in a cocktail. American, Belgian, Canadian, French, Irish, Japanese, Scotch, and Welsh whiskeys are all represented. Japan is big into whiskey, as Blind Donkey offers nine single malts made in that country. What I found amazing is the bar also has a single malt from, of all unexpected places, the small island of Tasmania that is a whopping 116 proof. Maybe that information will come in handy for your next drinking trivia game.

When you think of American whiskey, you don't often think of it coming from outside Kentucky, but it most definitely does. From bourbon and rye to oat and roasted blue corn, whiskeys are not run-of-the-mill at Blind Donkey. Naturally, a number of distilleries are in Kentucky, but California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont have it all in the barrel, too.

Draft beers are primarily from California or Oregon breweries, but Belgian beers rule the canned and bottled beer selection. Then, there are the cocktails. The mixologist has created seven cocktails, shaken or stirred every night. Bower says, "The Nick of Thyme is probably our most popular cocktail. Buffalo Trace bourbon, homemade honey-thyme syrup, lemon juice and ginger beer. It's light and refreshing, and goes down dangerously easily.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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