It’s not that we needed another reason to seek out fine scotch, but seeing as how the World Cup-qualifying match between Scotland and Belgium is happening on September 6, it would be careless of us to let the festive occasion go by without formerly acknowledging it over libations. These four places in New York City are fantastic options for a pre- or post-match toast.
Highlands aims to bring a taste of the real thing right to the heart of the West Village. A Scottish gastropub with Old World charm, Highlands serves Scottish malts, gins, beers and ales, as well as Scottish influenced cocktails (the Lady of the Loch is house-infused Heather vodka, lemon, honey, housemade lavender bitters and a twist of lemon) and, of course, a long list of scotch such as Highland Park and Scapa. Australian-born chef Chris Rendell specializes in Scottish cuisine including clapshot fritters (mashed turnips and potatoes) or the bangers and mash. The experience is as authentic as it can be, with haggis bread and all.
Home to a collection of more than 900 bottles of spirits, Brandy Library’s selection ranges from the hard to find — a 1945 Darroze Armagnac, Pierre Ferrand cognac 1914 or a Springbank 1969 single malt — to beers, wine and specialty and classic cocktails (a gin fizz, anyone?). The scene is laid-back, but sophisticated and classic. If you’re unsure of what to order and unfamiliar with what the variations of tastes are, Brandy Library’s Spirit School will guide you. Through a series of tastings you’ll be well on your way to learning all about fine elixirs. With Spirit Sommeliers on hand to help find the perfect choice from the extensive selection, you’re sure to find the best pairing to complement the hors d’oeuvres of your desire. For an extra treat, stop in Monday evening for live piano jazz that fills the library. Keep in mind that reservations are required.
With three locations in New York City and two spots in Prague (and another coming to Warsaw), along with a vast selection of scotch to choose from, Bar and Books is an accessible place to get your scotch on. The décor is warm and comfortable, a suitable place for its classical library collection. Its Beekman Bar and Books location offers a generous selection of sips on an entire whiskey menu. Choose from the entire Scotland section, divided by regions such as Highlands, Islands and more, or go for a tasting flight for some variety. The Beekman Bar and Books is also where cigar and cigarette lovers will find the Monkey Tobacco Shop, for purchases of tobacco products ranging from fine cigars to luxury cigarettes and classic pipe offerings, which they can enjoy while they savor their drinks without fear of being pushed outdoors.
Vintry Wine and Whiskey is a luxury wine and whiskey bar in the Financial District, dedicated to distilleries and artisan growers from around the world. While wines by the taste, glass or bottle are a large part of the menu, it is called “Wine and Whiskey,” so guests can choose from a vast selection of Scottish, American, Japanese, Canadian and Irish whiskies and bourbons, a lengthy lineup of single malt scotches and a more conservative list of beers. Vintry also specializes in whiskey cocktails. The Improved Dagny Taggart (with Highland Park 12-year-old single malt scotch, Dolin Rouge vermouth, Aperol, orange oils and Peychaud’s bitters) and the Blood & Sand (black grouse blended scotch, cherry heering, orange juice and oils and Dolin Rouge vermouth) are especially satisfying.
Photos courtesy of Bar And Books, Highlands, Brandy Library and Vintry