Whiskey is the original American beverage. Our history is barrel-aged in the amber elixir, from the freedom-loving distillers who staged the countryís first tax rebellion through the cocktail culture of the swing-a-ding-ding í60s.

More recently, though, the classic booze has been overshadowed by fruit-flavored vodka mixers on the one hand, and sometimes-stodgy scotch appreciation on the other. So letís raise our lowball glasses and toast Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails, the Downtown bar thatís made whiskey fun again.

Tip Top -- which salutes Ohioís past with old photos on the walls and local ingredients on the menu -- is perhaps the perfect place to reclaim whiskey from the clutches of high-priced single-malt sippers. The barís drink list puts a modern twist and familiar names on classic cocktails; with prices starting at $3, even newbies have nothing to lose by giving whiskey a try.

My favorite is the Sweet Scioto Down, basically a Manhattan on the rocks made with Old Grand-Dad. Another updated classic is the Alex P. Keaton, a rye and ginger served short, just like the TV character who called Ohio home.

Tipplers with sweeter tastes should try Tip Topís íBus-town Julep, Old Pike Old-Fashioned or Cap Soul Sour -- twists on the mint julep, old fashioned and whiskey sour, respectively. Or, for true Columbus refreshment, thereís the Flytown Pick-Me Up -- whiskey and ginger ale with a touch of Ohio maple syrup. Local history never tasted so sweet.

Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails 73 E. Gay St., Downtown 614-221-8300 Web: tiptopcolumbus.com