Bourbon bar boasts best selection

    Historic Alto Bar boasts best bourbon selection and a ’reservations-only’ steak night
    Photo by Lisa Enos

    Alto Bar, which boasts 650 different bourbons and whiskeys, has reopened. The historic establishment, located at 6064 Linfield Ave SE, in downtown Alto, may be one of the best kept secrets in West Michigan. 

    “We have West Michigan’s biggest selection of bourbon and whiskey,” said bartender Aaron Belanger . “It’s a great place to go to try some hard-to-find whiskeys,” he said. Alto is a rural community located about 21-miles Southeast of Grand Rapids. 

    According to Belanger, at any given point the bar has as many as 600-650 different bottles of bourbon and whiskey on hand, except, perhaps, after a busy weekend. 

    The bar, which closed down over the summer due to lack of staff, is now open Wednesday through Saturday and hopes to expand its hours in the near future. 

    Some of the daily specials include French Dips on Wednesdays and Prime Rib on Saturdays, not to mention “low-brow Thursdays” (Belanger’s words) featuring deep fried chili cheese dogs.

    Other items of note are the hamburgers and draft beer selection. 

    “We  hand make all of our burgers every day. You can really taste the freshness and quality of the beef,” he said. 

    The cozy spot was established in 1900 and has been a bar since its inception. At one time in the not-too-distant past it was a well-known biker bar, Belanger said. While it’s changed owners and gone through many different incarnations and updates over the years, it maintains its historic aesthetic. 

    The Alto Bar’s current owner, David Burns, bought the bar 14 years ago, Belanger said, and ever since has  “slowly transitioned”  it into a whiskey bar known for its upscale whiskey/bourbon pours and expert-level steaks. 

    “We get all of our meat locally from Saranac. We go get it ourselves the day before,” Belanger said. The Friday night steak dinners have become so popular that the management has had to institute a reservations only policy. 

    “Pretty good for a little bar in a corn field,” Belanger said. 


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