While the Upper West Side used to be known for its dearth of hearty whiskey boozing dens, this August Barley and Grain remedied the bourbon, rye, and scotch drought, bringing more than 100 whiskies and elevated comfort food to the area. As the owners of Tangled Vine, located across the street, Bruce Kravetz and Mark Hausner already had a firm hold of the alcohol market, but have branched out from wines into whiskies. Fans of the heavy stuff can sip on selections from the U.S., Scotland, and Ireland, like EH Taylor Single Barrel and Hudson Single Malt, or savor scotches that include heavy hitters such as Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition and Balvenie 14-year Caribbean Cask. With 40 single malt scotches and 60 ryes, bourbons, and American whiskies, it could take months (or a few very heavy drinking weekends) to sample all the offerings.
And while it’s easy to wile away a day perched at the copper-topped bar sipping on hard-to-find spirits, the food menu’s no slouch either. Separated as quick and easy, greens and grains, land and sea and sweet and crumbly, the menu also takes a heavy hand with the booze. Consulting chef Eli Kahlon worked with Barley and Grain's Eric Aklowitz to feature the restaurant’s namesake barley, as well as boozy glazes and hints of beer. Small bites include a dry aged strip loin smoked in whiskey with tobacco onions, and heartier fare features an 18-ounce cowboy steak, slathered in a bourbon demi glaze.
But the real deal is the Monday through Saturday happy hour that runs until 7 p.m., and features half-priced drafts that include a Sixpoint Righteous Rye Ale or Narragansett Lager and equally reduced appetizers. Opt for the beef poppers, or keep the boozing alive with ale-steamed mussels served with chorizo.
So how do you decide if you’re feeling like whiskey? It you’re a fan of Maker’s Mark, which the bar offers, venture out of your comfort zone with Elijah Craig Private Cask, a cheaper option aged in charred oak barrels. Fan of fine ryes? Utah’s High West Distillery distills some of the best, and you can sample three of its offerings at Barley and Grain. Looking for something local? Produced by Tuthilltown Spirits, New York’s first distillery since Prohibition, Hudson NY ‘s offerings at Barley and Grain include a single malt, corn mash and delicious baby bourbon. The only limits to your experimentation are how many of the 100 spirits you’re willing to try—and maybe your liver.