Lonely Planet Writer

The Watergate Hotel wants you to break into its new whisky safe

The Watergate break-in was one of the most bungling political mishaps in American history. But now there’s a chance for would-be burglars to get it right. And whisky is involved.

A bottle of whisky in a safe.
The Last Drop in the safe at the Next Whisky Bar. Image by the Watergate Hotel

To mark the 47th anniversary of the scandal orchestrated by President Nixon in which Republicans breached the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee leading to his eventual impeachment and resignation, The Next Whisky Bar at the Watergate Hotel has installed a five-foot-tall, 700-pound vintage Mosler safe in the lobby’s gilded and red whisky-encompassed enclave. Inside is a bottle of 1960 Last Drop Whisky, which will remain safely sealed away until one guest figures out the correct combination. (The Watergate Project was announced in October of 1960, hence the significance of the age of this expression.)

The interior of the bar.
The Next Whisky Bar. Image by the Watergate Hotel

“Here at the Next Whisky Bar we strive to honor the legacy and rich history of the iconic Watergate Hotel,” says chief bartender Rachel Sergi. “While simultaneously offering guests unique experiences and opportunities to engage with our expansive collection of rare whiskies.” Each purchase of the bar’s $200 Break the Safe flight gives one opportunity to crack the code. The flight contains one-ounce pours of three incredible vintage spirits: George T. Stagg, Macallan Exceptional Cask 12 Year and Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique. “[The] flight brings big, bold cask strengths together -- perhaps in order to help break the safe,” Sergi jokes. As guests sip and savor they keep their eyes on the real prize: that rare bottle of Last Drop, which was found after a fifty-year soak in a Sherry cask. Other casks were discovered but out of the 1347 bottles recovered more than half were undrinkable, making this an extra-special experience for a dram fan. Sergi describes it as “featuring tasting notes that are super spicy with fresh cut grass on the palate.”

A bottle of whisky.
The Last Drop at the Next Whisky Bar. Image by The Watergate Hotel

Ever since the iconic hotel reopened in 2016 it has embraced rather than shy away from its nefarious past. Hotel key card inscriptions tell guests there is “no need to break in” and callers placed on hold by the front desk hear snippets from the infamous Nixon tapes. “Beginning this month with all eyes on the anniversary, we’d be remiss if we didn’t celebrate it with a little mischief of our own,” says Pascal Forotti, managing director at the Watergate Hotel in a statement.
Catsuits are optional.