609 Grand St, Williamsburg
Rating: Three out of 5 L's
While many Brooklyn bars are upping their bourbon game, it’s still hard to find a good selection of Scotch, that favorite of Ron Burgundy and countless besuited corporate executives. No offense to all of the new, small-batch whiskey producers, but nobody does it as well as the old guys. I don’t care how artisanal your methods are; you aren’t making anything as good as those crusty Scots over at Maccallan do. Well, it looks like single malt is finally back in fashion. You can find whiskey from Scotland, Ireland, the U.S. and even Japan at Noorman’s Kil, on a stretch of Williamsburg’s Grand Street that has been inundated with new watering holes. The 200-strong list includes great small-batch stuff, like Breuckelen Whiskey and Jefferson’s Rye.
Me? I’m slipping into a glass of Glenfiddich like a hot tub, letting the warmth spread from my stomach until I feel like I just spent an hour in a massage chair. My friend is sipping a smokier Bowmore 12 Year, made in a distillery founded in 1779 on the Isle of Islay. Flash backwards 20 minutes. “Just cheesing it?” asks the thin blond bartender as we struggle to take in the long list of whiskies. She’s referring to the bar’s other ostensible specialty, grilled cheese sandwiches. They’re not bad, just nothing special: layers of upscale cheeses on unremarkable sourdough. How far are we going to take this infatuation with the comfort foods of our childhood? If some mustachioed waiter ever serves me SpaghettiOs, I’m packing up and leaving Brooklyn forever.
Still, for $5 or $6, the sandwiches are not a bad deal, and they soak up the booze. If whiskey isn’t your thing, the bar also has 12 beers on tap, a nice mix of international and local breweries ranging from Captain Lawrence to Kirin. As for cocktails, the bartenders keep it simple, with three special concoctions priced at a reasonable $8.
Despite the culinary foray into adolescence, this is a grown-up bar for enjoying grown-up drinks, with handsome wood paneling set over clean white walls, mirrors and Edison bulbs. Your best bet, however, is to sit out under the stars in the quiet back garden, relaxing with your favorite single malt.