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Brandy Library

Brandy Library is a delightful lounge for brandy, cognac, armagnac, calvados, whiskey, rum, and the like. The quiet, comfortable room is ringed with floor-to-ceiling shelves. Naturally, instead of books, those shelves are stocked with liquor.

One night a few weeks ago, I took a seat at the bar and immediately stumped the panel. I asked for “Macallan 1988 15 years 86 proof Sherry cask MacKillop’s choice” ($16). After searching the shelves for several minutes, with no fewer than three staff members consulting, they determined that my choice was no longer in stock.

I asked for somthing similar, and funky. “Funky we can do,” the hostesss said. They recommended Glenrothes 1992 86 proof. Glenrothes is a smaller highland distillery, but they promised I would taste a sherry flavor, just like the Macallan. This was a whiskey so powerful that I started to get intoxicated merely by waving the glass under my nose. It was served in a wide-mouth Riedel glass that gives the drink plenty of room to breathe. It was extremely smoothe, with a long, comfortable, only midly burning after-taste.

On another visit, I once again made a selection that was out of stock, but this time the spirits sommelier was in the house, and he quickly suggested an excellent alternative at a lower price than the one I’d picked. “The list of whiskeys we’re out of is longer than the list that most restaurants serve,” he quipped. On a third visit, I put myself in his hands, and he again made an excellent suggestion. Chivas Regal was doing a promotion, and a couple of attractive models came over with free glasses of Chivas 18. I also tried a basket of the gougères on that occasion. They are hopelessly addictive.

A few months later, I brought a friend, and we ordered a brandy tasting called Spirit of Gascony ($36). That buys you eight shot-glasses with splashes of different brandies. It’s more than enough for two people to have a good taste of each. (Any more brandy than that, and you’d have to be wheeled out the door). The gougères ($8) made a terrific accompaniment.

The room is clearly configured for drinking, but there is a respectable food menu that includes everything from those gougères to burgers.

Brandy Library (25 N Moore at Varick St, TriBeCa)

Food/Spirits: ★★★
Service: ★★
Ambiance: ★★★
Overall: ★★★

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