Whiskey isn’t the kind of drink you can just pick up and love. I bought my first bottle of Scotch as a sophomore in college for $20, which felt so expensive at the time and tasted like poison death. That’s the thing: It takes time and patience (and a fair amount of trial and error) to learn to appreciate whiskey. But when you finally do, a whole new world opens up to you. You’ll never go back to ordering a basic vodka soda again. And that’s a really good thing, both for your palate and your ability to impress. Here's a guide to whiskey bars in Providence that will teach you a thing or two about the whiskey.

Beginner: New Harvest Coffee & Spirits

New Harvest Coffee and Spirits takes two of the world's most wonderful beverages — coffee and whiskey — and combines them into beverages greater than the sum of their parts. Try their killer Irish Coffee, made with New Harvest's own single-origin coffee beans roasted right next door in Pawtucket, or any of their other whiskey-based cocktails. You'll be a believer in no time. While they offer unique spirits you've probably never heard of, New Harvest's specialty is taking those spirits and putting them into newbie-friendly cocktails like bourbon lattes and boozy frozen root beer floats that even someone who's totally anti-whiskey can still enjoy. 

Intermediate: The Avery

Whiskey lovers have been flocking to The Avery since it opened in Luongo Square on the West Side, for as long as it's been open. A cozy, dark bar that's perfect for a romantic date, The Avery has a well-curated selection of whiskeys (especially from Japan). Because of the selection, and the fact that it's sometimes too busy there for the bartenders to fully explain the difference between Nikka 17 Year Pure Malt Whiskey and Laphroiag 30 Year Scotch, this bar is better for people who have a little bit of a foundation in the liquor already.

Intermediate: Durk’s BBQ

Durk's BBQ, on Thayer Street near the Brown University campus, serves legit Southern barbecue. They also serve really great, easy-to-drink cocktails like the Painkiller with Scotch, lemon, honey and ginger, and the To Peach His Own with bourbon, peach, lemon and mint. What makes Durk's better for intermediate appreciators of whiskey is that they also serve 120 different American bottles of the stuff, and that level of selection will be lost on someone who "likes whiskey" and then proceeds to order a Jim Beam and ginger ale. 

Advanced: The East End

A whiskey bar that’s also a restaurant, The East End has over 300 bottles of whiskey to choose from, which line the entire wall behind the bar and require a separate, six-page menu to describe. If you’re new to whiskey, you’re going to be totally lost, but that’s OK, because the bartenders love to talk about their favorite spirit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, both about different bottles and about the cocktails, many of which have ingredients you probably haven’t heard of before like amaro and rhum clement. But if you know enough to know that you prefer bourbon over Irish whiskey, get the bartenders to help you put together a flight of short pours of three different spirits. It will be a delicious lesson.