Scotch bars

Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

Date: August 8, 2010 11:59:36 AM
Subject: Whiskey

I just returned from a kick-ass bachelor party in Scotland, touring distilleries and drinking whiskey. Now that we're back, who has the best single malt selection in NYC?


The Counting Room
The Scotch selection in this slightly elusive subterranean bar focuses on small-batch varieties—try the 2003 Bruichladdich Organic ($15), the first Islay single malt approved by biodynamic-farms certifier Demeter. The menu will only get more esoteric when the well-known Glenlivet and Macallan whiskies run out, as they will not be replaced. 44 Berry St at North 11th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-1860,

Dram Shop
Check your attitude at the door of Park Slope's unpretentious neighborhood favorite for both young professionals and working-class folks, where the generous pours make it one of the best places to find a bargain, per ounce, for single malts. There are 27 to choose from and nary a Macallan in sight; savor Ardbeg ($10) or a 15-year-old Highland Park ($12) while playing shuffleboard. 339 9th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-788-1444)

Candlelight, exposed brick, dark wood and taxidermied animals set the scene at this cozy year-old gastropub in the West Village. Novices might be intimidated by the well-curated list of single malts ($12--$45), but Scotch snobs will appreciate the inclusion of selections from artisanal distilleries, such as Scapa from the Orkney Islands—makers of medium-bodied quaffs, with a light honey nose and palate—and Benromach, which produces an organic single malt. 150 W 10th St at Waverly Pl (212-229-2670,

Come early in the week when it's less crowded to compare tasting notes in this enviable collection of 85 bottles. Try new expressions (variations in recipes, aging and casks) from small, innovative distilleries such as the Edradour ten-year ($14), or discover tastes from the Scottish islands of Arran and Mull. In cool fall weather, the ample cheese fondue plate ($16) is the perfect dram accompaniment. 282 Smith St at Sackett St, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (347-599-0294,

Keens Steakhouse
The list of nearly 290 single malts at this historic Herald Square spot, which dates back to 1885, is arguably the city's most extensive. It includes both new releases and rare bottles from shuttered distilleries, such as Port Ellen on Islay, and managers can expertly guide both experienced Scotch drinkers and newbies. The steakhouse retains a testosterone-heavy, old-boy atmosphere, but stick to the bar and pub for a more casual and wallet-friendly experience (flights of four tastings run $31--$140; regular pours are $8 and up). 72 W 36th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-947-3636,

St. Andrews Restaurant and Bar
If the bartender's thick brogue doesn't establish this relatively nontouristy Times Square place as authentically Scottish, then its impressive menu of more than 200 single malts will. You can't go wrong with the $20 Flight of the Month: 1 oz. pours from three varying regions. Sign up for the free customer-loyalty program for 10 percent off your bill that day and weekly specials via text message. 140 W 46th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-840-8413,

Vintry Wine & Whiskey
The handcrafted wood bar and decorative branches lend a luxe mountain-resort feel to the upscale Financial District drinkery. It draws a well-heeled clientele from beyond Wall Street and is ideal for tasting multiple selections from single distilleries. Though it offers nearly 100 single malts, Vintry is also the place to explore esoteric blends from newcomer Compass Box, such as the Peat Monster and Hedonism ($12 per ounce). 57 Stone St between Mill Ln and Pearl St (212-480-9800,

The Whiskey Brooklyn
Just because whiskey is in the name of a place doesn't always make it a worthwhile stop for a dram, but this new sports bar from the owners of Whiskey Tavern and Whiskey Town (which also shares a building with the Counting Room) is an exception. Hipsters and frat boys alike will feel comfortable in the wood-heavy, game-filled basement space, with its dozen well-chosen single malts, hearty pours and tasty pub grub. Scotches start at $8; all drinks are $1 off during happy hour. If you're ready to graduate to the peaty Islay Scotches, order the Laphroaig Quarter Cask ($13). 44 Berry St at North 11th, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-387-8444,

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