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Issue 86 - The Whisky River along the Hudson

Whisky Magazine Issue 86
February 2010

 

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The Whisky River along the Hudson

Liza Weisstuch tracks down some of the new generation of bars in the Big Apple.

It was a Tuesday night in January and despite the arctic freeze, New Yorkers roamed the streets. After all, what better way to mark Tuesday's end than with a drink?

I was walking in the West Village, a neighbourhood of stately townhouses and small boutiques, and saw a huddle of people congregated outside Highlands contemplating the menu.

“It's all Scottish food – haggis and salmon,” a young woman in knee high boots over jeans said to her friend.

“That's hilarious,” the friend exclaimed.

The gentleman in the party shuffled his feet while they reached their verdict: they'd give it a whirl.

They nodded approvingly upon entering. But then, why wouldn't they?

The space, designed to evoke a Glasgow pub, is all exposed brick walls, pheasantfestooned tapestries and chicken wire glass panels appropriated from a Scottish train station, and bookshelves lined with weathered volumes of Scottish poetry and history. A taxidermied deer mounted on the wall presides over the bar room, where tattooed bartenders in plaid shirts of the lumberjack-hipster variety dart to and fro behind the bar pulling pints and pouring drams.

Just as the whisky market has progressed in the past years, so have the bars devoted to it. Once upon a time, an American whisky bar fit one of two profiles: the archetypal sepia-toned den where people nestle into leather furniture, nose deep, and discussed barrel aging, finances and golf as jazz rhythms float, or the grittier watering hole where good posture...

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