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  1. Paul Wagtouicz
    Paul Wagtouicz

    Copper & Oak 

  2. Paul Wagtouicz
    Paul Wagtouicz

    Yamazaki puncheon at Copper & Oak

  3. Paul Wagtouicz
    Paul Wagtouicz

    Yamazaki puncheon at Copper & Oak

  4. Paul Wagtouicz
    Paul Wagtouicz

    Crimson & Rye

  5. Paul Wagtouicz
    Paul Wagtouicz

    Crimson & Rye

  6. Paul Wagtouicz
    Paul Wagtouicz

    The Man About Town at Crimson & Rye

On our radar: Crimson & Rye + Copper & Oak

Whiskey business

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When the weather turns brisk, the spirits go dark: floral gin gets swapped for smoke-nosed Scotch, and sunny rum makes way for spicy, robust rye. The brown slugs of fall are heartier than summer’s easy-drinking sips and leagues more complex: mash percentage, grain variety, even soil disparities can profoundly alter the taste of whiskey. That’s a hell of a lot to grasp for a connoisseur, let alone a brown-bottle newbie. Thankfully, Midtown East’s bright, welcoming Crimson & Rye and the intimate Copper & Oak on the Lower East Side have whiskey enthusiasts covered like the sealed top of an oak barrel.

ORDER THIS: At Crimson & Rye, Charlie Palmer’s cocktail lounge in the Lipstick Building lobby, ease into hooch-fortified drinks with a fizzy Seelbach ($13), brimming with Four Roses bourbon, bitters and sparkling wine, or the zesty-yet-smooth rye-and-vermouth Man About Town ($15). Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, dip into the bottle menu, stocked with 15 ryes, 30 bourbons and local crafts like Red Hook’s Widow Jane ($14). Dive deeper at Copper & Oak, from Brandy Library’s Flavien Desoblin, which boasts a collection of hard-to-find Japanese whiskeys including Suntory’s Yamazaki Puncheon ($16 for 1oz, $32 for 2oz), fragrant with vanilla and citrus, or the 12-year-old blended Hibiki ($8 for 1oz, $16 for 2oz), partly matured in plum wine barrels to give it notes of oak and fruit.

GOOD FOR: Copper & Oak could pass for a small library, with backlit bookshelves crammed with 600 bottles of dark-hued elixirs—it’s an apt setting for those looking to expand their whiskey wisdom. The booze-geek haven takes its namesake seriously: The walls are made of deconstructed bourbon barrels and the caps from an old copper whiskey bottle act as knobs on the bathroom sink. Crimson & Rye is a liquor of a different color. The vibe is Brooklyn inspired but midtown digestible: Suspender-strapped bartenders man the breezy after-work lounge, outfitted with large leather couches, mason-jarred garnishes and a soundtrack that roams from Iggy Pop to Steely Dan.

THE CLINCHER: Not a whiskey drinker? Crimson & Rye’s true darling is the Pickled & Dirty ($14), a dirty martini riff splashed with a savory house-made brine. Copper & Oak also obliges, with one- or two-ounce pours of tequila and rum. There are a few kinks—Copper’s snug space guarantees that the flourescent light outside regularly flashes WE ARE FULL, making for less-than-ideal conditions if you want room to explore their menu—but like a fine rye, both whiskey temples will mature deliciously.

Crimson & Rye, 198 E 54th St at Third Ave (212-687-6692)

Copper & Oak, 157 Allen St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-460-5546)
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