As a post-Valentine's day trip from DC to NYC with my girlfriend, we decided that she would pick the restaurants, as long as I could pick the bars. Her choices were pretty fantastic, hitting up celebrity chef restaurants such as Bobby Flay's Gato and Chris Santos' Stanton Social.
Sidebar: Aside from the delicious meals we had at both of these establishments, we might have also stumbled upon the best "pizza-by-the-slice" places anywhere. While venturing out in Soho, we popped into Prince Street Pizza, a "NoLita pizzeria." If you find yourself in the area, do yourself a favor and grab a slice (or two) of their vodka sauce pie. It's seriously write home worthy!
Not to be one-upped, I sprung for one of the better whiskey spots on the Lower East Side in Copper & Oak. This place is owned and operated by its big brother Brandy Library. As with Brandy Library, Copper & Oak could pass for a small "library," with a lot less pretense. Outfitted with backlit bookshelves stuffed with plenty of amber elixir to warm the cockles of any whiskey enthusiast—it’s also an apt setting for those looking to expand their whiskey wisdom. The walls are made of deconstructed bourbon barrels and they also plastered whiskey bottle tops on the bathroom door for good measure!
At Copper & Oak you can dive deep into the Kentucky brown water, as they boast quite the collection of hard-to-find whiskies (not just bourbon, obviously) from around the world. Sticking to what I know, I reached straight for the 7-year Willett rye. At this point, I had only tried one other Willett rye, a 6-year offering from a few months before. Of course, as with most Willett's, it was robust and fiery goodness. My girlfriend (also a Bourbonatic by proxy), got the Parker's Heritage "Promise of Hope."
Note: Unfortunately, I wasn't taking notes on this one, so I'll reserve proper reviews when I'm paying more attention!
After chatting up Joel, our bartender for the evening - who also happens to be the Head Spirit Sommelier - discussing the finer points of american whiskey, our favorite's from Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill, he reaches for a Elijah Craig 23-year and pours me a sipper's sip. Whoa! This one packed a delicious punch! For what it's worth, at first taste off of a rye, the sweet and oak was so prominent, but the finish was really something special. I figured that was a hard follow up for something new, so I went back to an old faithful in the Colonel E. H. Taylor Single Barrel. As you will soon come to find out, the Taylor Single Barrel is one of my favorites from Buffalo Trace, and probably one of the best bourbon's that won't (completely) break the bank.
If you're a whiskey-geek rummaging around NYC's LES, this is a mandatory stop. Not only do they have a plethora of whiskey to appease even the most experienced of palates, they even offer the token food menu and some simple wine offerings if some of your compatriots aren't "with the whiskey." Check it out. You won't be disappointed. The setting is small, but it is glorious!