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Winter is for Whisky: Seven Scotch Bars in NYC

Submitted by on March 1, 2010 – 12:59 am
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Diners toast drams at Highlands in the West Village. Photo by Phillip Angert

Diners toast drams at Highlands in the West Village. Photo by Phillip Angert

If you think winter in NYC is especially trying this year, take a cue from the hardy types in Scotland–get through long, dark winters like they do in the bonny country by sipping some warming Scotch whisky. Wondering where to get a dram in NYC from Scotland’s distilling regions (Islay, Highland, Speyside, Campbelltown, and Lowland)?

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Here are seven bars with an extensive Scotch selection and a sophisticated, welcoming atmosphere to get you started:

Highlands: At this upscale lodge-style Scottish gastropub, new to the West Village, rows of whisky and bourbon bottles line the brick wall behind the bar. Pull up a stool at the cozy bar for a hot toddy, a ”Blood and Sand” (Scotch, orange juice, Cherry Heering, and sweet vermouth), or “bartender’s choice”–you’ll not only be charmed by the staff’s brogue, but by their cocktail-making skills too. Also, if you’ve always wanted to try haggis, they offer it on their dinner menu.  150 W. 10th St.

Vintry: This speakeasy-style whiskey and wine bar is a haven among the pubs and sports bars of the Financial District. Dimly-lit with an inimate ambience perfect for date night, the bar offers an exhaustive list of single malts, rye whiskeys, bourbons, and Scotch-based cocktails, such as the “Flaming Bubinga” (Higland Park 12 year old Scotch, apricot eau de vie, lemon, and  fresh blood orange juice.) 57 Stone St.

St. Andrew’s: In the heart of the Theater District, the bartenders at this authentic Scottish bar and restaurant wear kilts and speak with a brogue. Offering more than 250 single malts in 1 oz. or 2 oz. drams, St. Andrews offers an escape to Scotland’s whisky trail in an otherwise tourist-heavy zone. 140 W. 46th St.

Bar and Books: Whether you are at the Hudson, Lexington, or Beekman location of Bar and Books, two things are for sure: the Scotch menus are vast, and you can smoke cigars if you choose. Offering a sophisticated atmosphere (jeans and sneakers are not allowed), small bites, and James Bond films in the background, Bar and Books are the clubhouses you always wanted. Inventive Scotch cocktails abound here, such as the “Japanese Manhattan” (Yamazaki 12 year Scotch, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth, Angostura bitters, and lemon peel). 636 Hudson St., 1020 Lexington Ave., or 889 1st Ave.

Campbell Apartment: If you’re looking for a clubhouse that’s more fit for a millionaire, look no further than this Grand Central gem. Once the private office and salon of 1920′s tycoon John W. Campbell, the posh furniture and 20-foot ceilings offer a prime setting for sipping a dram. Also, be sure to dress the part–jackets are requested for men, and no jeans or sneakers allowed.  15 Vanderbilt Ave.

Brandy Library: Step into a room filled floor-to-ceiling with the glow of amber brown spirits bottles and find yourself in a Scotch-lover’s paradise. With plenty of plump leather seating, this Tribeca lounge is an ideal spot to choose from more than 200 single malts, opt for a tasting flight through Scotland’s regions, or sip a classic Scotch cocktail. If you’re not a serious sipper, this bar might not be for you. 25 N. Moore St.

d.b.a.: With locations in both the Lower East Side and Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood (as well as a bar in New Orleans), d.b.a. is better known for its heftfy beer selection, but the bars offer a significant whiskey selection as well–more than 90 single malts. In warmer weather, the Lower East Side location opens up a back patio, which accomodates large groups. 41 1st Ave.

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