by Patrick Heig - 324 Reviews - 95 List
Whether you're newly smitten with artisinal tequila or are already decades into a love affair with Scotch, we've got just the place. New York is newly flush with bars that specialize in a single liquor, some with absurdly wide selections--400 kinds of tequila, for instance--and bartenders knowledgeable enough to teach you about the subtleties of your obsession, or give you reason to pick up a new one. (Photo: Cienfuegos is for rum-lovers)
Updated: May 24, 2010
With more than 400 tequilas from which to choose, some available nowhere else in the city, this tequila "library" might be one of the best places in the world to sample the agave-based spirit. The luxuriously appointed space (beneath midtown mega-restaurant Zengo) is a reverential setting in which to appreciate top-notch tequila's finer points, although as far as tequila-drinking spots go, we'll always be partial to the belly button of that bartender at Senor Frog's.
Are you a fan of Scottish cuisine? Meet the other three New Yorkers who share your passion at this West Village gastropub, or just come for the whiskey. The 11-page menu lists anywhere from 90 to 120 scotches--including rare beauties like a Gordon & MacPhail 30-year--and includes the sort of tasting notes normally reserved for wine tastings in Napa.
With its candy-colored Caribbean look, this new East Village rum specialist feels like a jaunty, pre-Fidel Havana, though it's unlikely any bar there ever had a rum selection like this. Knowledgeable rummies will love the selection, which ranges from vanilla-honey lovelies to varieties as smoky as a peaty whiskey; though the $5 dram of bartender's choice is the cheapest and most adventurous way to explore the menu.
There may be places in the city with more vodkas, but few with more style than this Soho caviar bar (and Keith McNally production), where you'll find 70 varieties of "the clear" from Russia, Poland, Ukraine and 10 other countries, plus some unexpected house-infused versions, including a dill flavor, though that particular one gets more points for originality than flavor.
Mezcal, the smoky cousin of tequila, has recently shed its dirty reputation to become a cocktail geek obsession, and this is where its fans come to slobber. Mayahuel keeps about 15 choice varieties of it on hand, and serves them in a darkly elegant, church pew-lined space that's an upgrade to the traditional Mexican cantina.