We’re continuing our short series on out-of-town bars with a look inside New York City’s Brandy Library.
Over the past few years, two of our more well-traveled members – Ryan Boyle and Lee Bullock – have raved about some “brandy bar” in New York City. At times, they have sent me pictures of their pours (none of which have been of brandy). The pours were nice, but it was tough to gauge the bar from the photos alone. Was there anything to their hype of this bar? On a recent trip to New York, I had the pleasure of sitting down for a cocktail to find out.
They were right. And apparently that is no secret.
Whiskeys and whiskies from around the world. Brandies, Cognacs, Armagnac and Calvados. Rums and Tequilas. Brandy Library’s rotating menu of items is truly exceptional. But you can discover that from the link to their menu alone. There is so much more to the atmosphere and presentation. As you enter, you pass by a wall fashioned with (presumably) empty boxes, floor to ceiling, arranged in a tetris like pattern. Once you pass the threshold, the walls are lined with various spirits. Not just one wall, but all the walls. The facility is not overly large, but intimate (although there was another smaller level to the bar that I didn’t learn about until later). The main bar itself lines nearly the length of the house. It is exquisite and provides for upfront presentation of the crafting of the cocktails.
And the cocktails. The company tagline is “Raising the Bar.” What they set out to accomplish, they have prevailed. The menu offerings of cocktails are clearly a labor of love. Nothing is run of the mill – even traditional cocktails have an unusual twist. And from short experience, those twists are not gimmicks, but instead thoroughly vetted improvements to everything they make. I enjoyed a Mezcal cocktail that perfectly partnered the smokey Mezcal with pineapple and other citrus.
I’d be remiss not to return to the selection of spirits themselves. Our friends at Breaking Bourbon recently wrote a post about the new sales techniques used at Brandy Library. Have a read, as this may be a new wave of the future. But on point, there are items that you see in the bar that are not for sale – at least not in the traditional sense. Some you can try in a flight of spirits, others may be reserved for local regulars. No matter, however, as there is plenty of fantastic options (new and old) to select from.
Next time you are in New York City, stop by Brandy Library. Ryan and Lee are not wrong on this one!
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.