Why It’s Time to Skip the Salon and Embrace the Barber

Courtesy Whiskey and Whiskers

The barbershop is making a comeback. But this isn’t a rehash of the institution idealized in movies, or by our fathers and grandfathers — a room where men go to discuss the news and complain about wives while they get a one-size-fits-all buzz. Nor is it the bright, perfumed dance hall so many of us have frequented to get a modern cut. “For a long time, guys who are particular about their hairstyles — or at least didn’t want to look like a guy whose mom put a bowl on their head — had to go to a salon,” says Jeff Laub, the founder of the Blind Barber, who grew up helping out with his mother’s salon in New Jersey. “But, with a bunch of girls carrying glasses of wine and walking around in robes, it wasn’t our atmosphere. We want a beer, a haircut, and to take 30 minutes to talk about anything we wanted without judgment.”

This is what proprietors like Laub have been working to construct in dozens of new shops around the country over the past few years. These are places with a simple menu: a quality haircut, a straight razor hot shave, a drink, and 30 minutes to escape. “The hot towel, the shave, the drink — it’s someone taking care of you. Let someone else do one of your tedious chores for an hour — and get a cocktail with it. “

After two days of running in the mountains for the Wasatch Ragnar Relay, we took Laub’s advice and turned to the Waldorf Astoria Spa in Park City, Utah for its Whiskey and Whiskers offering. While the bar-like atmosphere common in other modern barbershops was absent, the idea remained the same — the chore of a much-needed shave became a long, relaxing process with a straight razor, oils, aftershave, and a hot towel, all followed with a few fingers of Tullamore Dew. We drank the whiskey in a chair by the window, with views of Utah’s mountains and no perfume scent or house music beat.
Signs of the rise of the modern barbershop are everywhere. Here are some spots you can go for a shave, a beer, a haircut, and a shot.

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