Much as we love Camus and Baudelaire, one imagines if there were bars named for them, they might not be all that much fun. But NYC’s glorious new Oscar Wilde Bar is precisely as brilliant as a you’d expect a bar named for the legendary Irish wit to be.
But, cultivated tipplers that we are, we were especially thrilled to discover that it wasn’t all Jameson and Tullamore when it comes to their whisk(e)y selection. Indeed, esteemed Beverage Director Denise Prykanowski has stocked the place with the very best of the brown spirit, from countries you’d never actually expect it come from. After all, have you ever bellied up and asked, “Could I get a whisky rocks? And make it Austrian?”
Intrigued, we spent an evening there taking something of an EU tour by way of whisky (with one quick diversion to Taiwan.) And Oscar Wilde’s head bartender just happens to be one of our fave Downtown nightlife impresarios, one Johnny Swet – who threw in a couple of his best whisky cocktail creations for good measure.
And so here are Prykanowski’s top whiskey/whisky picks (along with her rather rapturous descriptions), and the recipes for Johnny’s Whisky Nowadays and Smoked Old Fashioned cocktails.
Produced from all local ingredients in Hesbaye, Belguim, the whisky is distilled in copper pots from spring barley and aged for three years in American Oak (ex bourbon casks) from one distillery. A lighter, younger style of whisky that is approachable for the first time drinker or easy to sip all night long. Delicate and fresh with notes of ripe pear, apples, lemon, cocoa cream, and hints of vanilla on the nose and palate.
Produced from 100% Spanish corn and finished in fresh Valdespino Palo Cortado casks. A savory style of whisky with prominent sherry notes that give it flavors grounded in roasted nuts, dried fruit, toffee spices and a touch of salt. Perfect for sherry lovers.
Hans Reisetbaur is well known for his eau-du-vies and he uses a farm-to-bottle approach for the production of this whisky. The barley is grown on his farm, malted, twice-distilled in traditional copper pots and finished in trockenbeernaulese barrels (Trockenberrnaulese is a sweet wine made from grapes affected by Noble Rot). The whisky is elegant and complex, opening up with red apples, cherries, mocha and fine herbs, with a slight sweetness on the finish from the barrels.
Part of the Gold Collection from Penderyn, this medium-bodied whisky is produced from barley and distilled in a unique Faraday copper still, then finished in Madeira casks. Pale gold in color, it opens up with tropical fruit, hazelnuts, lemon peel with light baking spices and raisins on the finish. The higher proof gives the whisky a little edge and balance on the palate.
A sweeter and fruitier style of whisky made from 100% malted barley, distilled in pot stills and finished in sherry casks. The tropical climate gives the whisky a deeper, richer flavors of dark red fruits, chocolate, dates and dried plums with underlying savory notes. A great choice for an after dinner whisky.
Johnny Swet’s Top Whisky Cocktails for the Oscar Wilde Bar
build in Collins
3 dash angostura
.25 honey syrup
.25 lemon juice
1 Montenegro amaro
1.5 templeton rye
In a tall glass, ice, ginger ale and twist
Smoked Old Fashioned
In a smoked glass,
3 dash orange bitters
0.5 smoked simple syrup
2 Jim Beam bourbon
In a smoked rocks glass, add block ice, lemon twist