Brandy Library – New York

This week, I’ll revisit some of the Whisky bar reviews I’ve done.


Mom, I’ll be at the library

(originally published February 20, 2006)

On my last trip to New York, I asked several industry guys about the
best whisky bars in the city. A number of destinations were offered up
for my consideration – but the one mentioned most often was the Brandy
Library.

If I were to imagine the perfect upscale lounge, Tribeca-based
Brandy Library would be it. The place oozes suave ambiance – the deep
woods, soft lighting, and rich leather made me feel under-dressed, yet
strangely at home.

But while the decor is nice, for the Scotch lover the draw is the
impressive selection. The Scotch collection at the Library numbers
somewhere around 270 different labels – second only to the selection of
over 290 brandies. I counted over 235 single malt expressions on the
menu. Nice.

Continue Reading >>

Delilah’s – Chicago

This week, I’ll revisit some of the Whisky bar reviews I’ve done.


Whisky Week: Not your Daddy’s Whisky Bar

(originally published March 24, 2006)

Chicago. February. Delilah’s.

The Cashed Johnnies are on the small stage belting out a
speed-freak, rock-a-billy version of Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues”.
Mike Miller, the owner, has just put a glass of Scotch in front of me –
one that I can’t identify.

It’s a Wednesday night, but the place is packed with an interesting
selection of hipsters, rockers, mods, punks, Bettie Page look-a-likes,
and members of various other counter-culture sub-groups. Most of them
are here to celebrate Johnny Cash’s birthday, listen to the band, and
take advantage of the $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon special.

I’m here to celebrate Johnny Cash’s birthday, listen to the band,
talk to Mike and bask in the glow of an incredible Scotch selection.

Continue Reading >>

Whisky Week: Not your Daddy's Whisky Bar

Chicago. February. Delilah’s.

The Cashed Johnnies are on the small stage belting out a
speed-freak, rock-a-billy version of Johnny Cash’s "Cocaine Blues".
Mike Miller, the owner, has just put a glass of Scotch in front of me –
one that I can’t identify.

It’s a Wednesday night, but the place is packed with an interesting
selection of hipsters, rockers, mods, punks, Bettie Page look-a-likes,
and members of various other counter-culture sub-groups. Most of them
are here to celebrate Johnny Cash’s birthday, listen to the band, and
take advantage of the $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon special.

I’m here to celebrate Johnny Cash’s birthday, listen to the band,
talk to Mike and bask in the glow of an incredible Scotch selection.

"What was that Scotch, Mike?" I ask.
"Sheep Dip" is the reply,
as Mike smiles, turns, and walks over to fill the order of a girl with
dyed dreads and her pierced male friend.

Mike returns and gleefully starts pulling bottles off the shelves
and placing them in front of me for comment. I uncork a bottle of Ardbeg Very Young
and take a big whiff. I get some strange looks as other patrons lean
over me to place empty bottles of PBR on the bar and signal the
bartender for yet another round.

Mike and I start to shout over the music of the band about the
upcoming Whisky show season, and I discover that he’ll also be at
Whisky Live London – Delilah’s has been nominated as one of the Great Whisky Bars of the World by Whisky Magazine.

That’s awesome. As you might have surmised, Delilah’s is not your
average whisky bar. It’s not a Scottish/English pub. It’s not Brandy
Library-type upscale lounge. This is what I lovingly refer to as a
"dive bar". And coming from me, that’s not a disparaging remark – some
of my favorite bars are dive bars. Most of them however specialize in
cheap beer and well drinks.

Delilah’s is no slouch when it comes to tossing cheap beer and
shooters down the throats of  Generation X – but they also cater to the
tastes of good beer lovers, rum snobs, and oh yeah, Scotch drinkers.

A girl in fish net stockings, pancake make-up and pony-tails slams
into my bar stool, careens into a group of people finishing a round of
mixed drinks, and stumbles off into the frigid Chicago night.

The next bottle Mike hands me is a Lagavulin Distiller’s edition. Meanwhile,
a particularly attractive girl sitting next to me deftly deflects the
advances of two drunk English guys while simultaneously (and
surprisingly) ordering a La Fin Du Monde.

The Miller Lite drinking English guys don’t have a chance.

———————————————————

My last story had all of the events that Diageo was sponsoring in conjunction with Whisky Week.

Mike Miller has his own Whisky week going on. That’s right, every night that week you can put your ass on a barstool and be entertained by Chicago’s funnest whisky bar:

Monday, March 27

7pm
We are hosting Whisk(e)y 101 with Diageo Master of Scotch Gregor Cattanach.
Gregor will be showing Bulliet American Bourbon, Canadian Crown Royal, Bushmill’s Irish Whisky and a range of blended, vatted and single malt Scotches –  at least one from every region of Scotland.  We will then be discussing all aspects of Whisk(e)y – perfect for the novice and expert alike, and free.

Tuesday, March 28

8pm
We will be hosting John Glaser, owner and master blender of the Compass Box range of Vatted Malts. John’s firm is quite small and he is doing something that no one else in the world is doing presently. 

11pm
Jim Beam Brands and Delilah’s host a special Whiskey and Pool Playing event with Jim Beam Great Grandson – Fred Noe and Delilah’s owner – Mike Miller taking on all opponents to win great prizes and learn a thing or two about making and living American Whiskey.

Wednesday, March 29
10pm
A special meeting with Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell – he’s been there for 51 years, where we will be tasting 10 different expressions of Wild Turkey, many extremely rare editions and learning from the most infamous man in the industry.

Thursday, March 30
10pm
Our fourth annual Whiskeyfest After Party.  An excellent opportunity to share some whiskey with the people who make and sell every brand, with Bourbon legend Julian Van Winkle guest bartending.

Friday, March 31
8pm
Our favorite Canadian Brewery, Unibroue, kicks off its latest release Chambly Noir, a wonderful black Belgian style beer – first pour in the USA.

Mom, I'll be at the Library…

On my last trip to New York, I asked several industry guys about the best whisky bars in the city. A number of destinations were offered up for my consideration – but the one mentioned most often was the Brandy Library.

If I were to imagine the perfect upscale lounge, Tribeca-based Brandy Library would be it. The place oozes suave ambiance – the deep woods, soft lighting, and rich leather made me feel under-dressed, yet strangely at home.

But while the decor is nice, for the Scotch lover the draw is the impressive selection. The Scotch collection at the Library numbers somewhere around 270 different labels – second only to the selection of over 290 brandies. I counted over 235 single malt expressions on the menu. Nice.

And Flavien Desoblin, Director of Operations  tells me that the single malt selection is about to get
even bigger with the addition of the Gordon & MacPhail and Murray
McDavid lines.

Considering I have more bottles in my own Scotch cabinet than the best stocked restaurant in my area, I savor the opportunity to try something new – and with 235 to choose from, I can.

The attraction doesn’t end at the beautiful interior and the incredible Scotch menu – their special events, particularly Single Malt Seminars, Tasting Fridays and Single Malt Saturdays, are the real reason you should check them out.

Flavien tells me:

Single Malt Saturdays is a free presentation and opportunity to sample some of the newest additions to our selection, and Classics that we feel are important to revisit and /or compare to the new ones. The tasting is pretty casual and lead by our Spirit Sommelier Ethan Kelley. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Saturday.

As for the Tasting Fridays, I know for sure that we will have Lorne MacKillop from MacKillop’s Choice on April 5th, Denis Lesgourgues from the Armagnac Laubade on March 9th.

Tasting Fridays are NOT limited to Scotch, and sometimes there are surprise guests – for example on the night I’m writing this (2/17), I know Ronnie Cox (Glenrothes) showed up for a special, unscheduled tasting.

As if that were not enough, you can store your own bottle of your favorite Scotch at the Library and it will be waiting for you whenever you visit. THAT is a service I could learn to like.

While talking about the Brandy Library, Flavien says:

As far as the place itself is concerned, this is my baby and I am the major owner of it. A passion for wines and spirits in general turned into a deep desire to sink into the brown spirits and here I am.

The current success of the place has a lot to do with the work of my Spirit Sommelier Ethan R. Kelley and the rest of the team!

Is Brandy Library cheap? No. But what in New York is? (Speaking as a guy who dropped $40 on lunch at Nobu around the corner). Still, I’ll be back in April (WhiskyLive), I have my eye on that 1969 Oban :).

The Brandy Library
25 N Moore Street
New York, New York 10013