Well, it happens once in a blue moon . . . but I went out and had a few drinks over the weekend with my best bud, T. It was in celebration of his 35th birthday, and he's big into single malt whiskeys. So we headed over to a cozy establishment on the Lower East Side he's been wanting to take me to for a while now -- The Whiskey Ward.
It's located at 121 Essex Street, close to Delancey but also not very far from Houston St. The Whiskey Ward is one of those old-timey saloon type of bars, the ones where you feel like you've stepped back into the days of Prohibition and need a password in order to enter. It has a mind-boggling and extensive menu of not just whiskeys (including single malts, blendeds, and scotches) but a various assortment of bourbons and ryes as well, along with the requisite pilsners and lagers on tap -- wheeeee!
As you can see, the atmosphere is pretty chill. Dim candle lighting, a jukebox in one corner, and a fairly live billiards table in another corner. I also liked the large oaken cask barrels which served as tables as well, which is where T and I sat. We decided to have one "whiskey flyer" each -- which is a tray with three round slots into which three glasses are placed and you choose the different whiskeys you want to fill them up with. T picked out single malt scotches as our 3 choices-- a 14yr Oban, an 18yr Bowmore, and a 15yr Laphroaig un-chill filtered "signatory" scotch. Wow! That last one was definitely an experience.
The bartender was kind enough to label each one with a marker on the wood. But of course, no serious drinking can be had without a trusty chaser chosen first. As usual, I tend to go pretty heavy with my chasers -- so I fell back on an old favorite that was on tap, Guinness Stout. To me, nothing beats Guinness! I have to get it at least once every time I go out drinking.
When we arrived at the establishment roughly around 8:30 Saturday night, the place was only sparsely filled with regulars. However, by the time 10:00 rolled around it started to pick up HEAVILY. Pretty soon, it was standing room only. But I have to say it was a nice mix of patrons at this pub -- mostly twenty- and thirty-somethings like us. T and I slowly sipped our way through the three scotches in front us, chatting about this and that. They were pricey, the drinks (though not obscenely so), and I wanted to savor the distinct flavors among the different brands. But I have to confess that my chaser didn't last very long:
Here I am looking rather put-off by the sad state of affairs that is an almost-drained Guinness. Poor me!
We got a couple more rounds of excellent single malt scotches after the initial three went the way of the dinosaurs . . . although for the life of me I cannot remember their names. I know one of them was an Aberlour, though. That one was SMOOTH!!!
But alas, eventually the evening got late and we had to bow out just as the joint was really starting to get jumping. We were both starving, though, so we stopped off at a nearby Japanese Ramen shop for some grub. It was really good--exactly what I needed at nearly midnight out in NYC. Yes, it truly never sleeps here; you can always find someplace to go to in the Big Apple regardless of the time. It's one the many reasons why I can never leave here, I think. It annoys me to no end when I go to other places, even major metropolises like Paris or Rome, and discover that everything seems to shut down shortly after sunset. WTF is up with that?
Guess it's just the New Yorker in me. We expect things A CERTAIN DAMN WAY . . . DAMMIT! :)
But, yes, I had a good time. Happy bornday to my bestest friend! We have to do it again sometime, T, for sure. I won't turn 35 myself until September, but perhaps we can find an excuse to go back before then?