Dewar’s is From Glasgow, And Glasgow is Gritty, and Maybe You Are Too

Have you seen the new TV advertisements for Dewar’s? They’re theatrical and well produced, like those Heineken spots, but a lot grittier. Thing is, the people at Dewar’s realize that we’re not all living the lifestyle embodied by the Scotches of yesteryear. We don’t sip our drams in leather armchairs in the library of some massive estate, hunting dog at our feet and an oil painting of a scowling patriarch hanging on the wall above us. Nope, more likely we’re enjoying our whisky at a bar, house party, or in a clandestine lounge behind a curtain in a sketchy-looking auto shop by the docks of Glasgow. Wait, what? Look, just watch the ad and it will all come back to you.

You see? Don’t you remember the time you were driving that luxury car through the gritty streets of Glasgow? And you drove along some partially abandoned docks, and there was a black-and-white checkered lighthouse, and a fishing boat, and a crane, and a white horse and a car on fire for some reason, but it made sense at the time? And a guy with a black leather jacket opened up the bay doors of a warehouse for you, and you drove in, parked the car, got out, and walked past some tough-looking guys working on cars, and maybe it was a way station for stolen cars, and maybe it was a completely legitimate auto repair business, but you didn’t care because you were on a mission? And this older guy with white hair led you through the back, past corrugated steel walls to an elevator that opened to a dark curtain, which the guy parted for you and you entered a really cool lounge that had chandeliers and an art deco-style bar? And there was nobody in the bar, you were there to drink alone, or possibly to meet somebody, so you took a lone glass off a shelf and helped yourself to two perfect ice cubes that were in an ice bucket that was filled with fresh ice just for you, and you opened a bottle of Dewar’s White Label and poured two fingers for yourself, and then took the glass and bottle and sat down on a couch with red satin and smooth gray velour cushions? And you talked about taking life seriously, because even though it’s not always easy, it comes with serious benefits? And then some off-screen guy named Angus said something weird and you basically told him to stuff it because you were having your serious drink? Also, you were a woman?

I knew it would come back to you. Yes, this is the way we drink today. And while I poke fun–this is marketing, after all, so let’s please not take it too seriously–I get what the spot, and the others in the series, is getting at. For most of us, even amid all this supposedly labor-saving technology in the world, life is hard, but if you can grind it out you’ll find your rewards. Maybe it will be a hidden lounge behind some Glasgow chop shop, and maybe it will be happy hour at the local Chili’s, but if you put in the sweat, you’ll get yours, and it will feel all the better for your labors.

The commercial is part of a larger campaign for Dewar’s about defining what the "drinking man" is about. From what I can gather, he’s about hard work and courage and confidence and creativity and maybe a flash of kindness for those deemed worthy.

Dewar’s had a cool event in New York recently that started at Milk & Honey and ended at Madam Geneva. I only made it to the latter portion, since the drinking man picks up his kids at school when his wife gets stuck at the office, but I think I hit the right one. At Milk & Honey, people learned how to mix cocktails and blend whisky. To me that sounds like work, which I was done with for the day. At Madam Geneva, we just sampled a selection of cocktails made with Dewar’s. They were all great, but my favorite was Dewar’s 18 on the rocks, with its gorgeous golden color and creamy notes of honey and spice. That’s technically not a cocktail, of course, but I’m a drinking man and I earned it. 

New York’s Sexiest Third Date Bars

The third date. You’ve made it. Now it’s totally acceptable for you to take your date back to your place and [fill in the blanks]. 

And in order to ensure that you’re both in the mood, we’ve compliled our list of the sexiest bars for that third date. Think of it as foreplay. Enjoy.

Dutch Kills Will Open in April

Yesterday, Grub Street fretted over the opening of the much-anticipated Long Island City cocktail saloon Dutch Kills, which they — and everybody else — thought was supposed to be in business last month. So I went there myself to speak to part-owner Richard Boccato (the other owner is Sasha Petraske, both of Little Branch and Milk & Honey fame), to clarify the when-will-they-open cloudiness and to get a sneak peek at one of New York’s buzziest (and soon to be busiest) bars.

When I first walked into Dutch Kills (the ancestral name of the neighborhood, and now a nearby cross street), there were two woodworkers building what will eventually be the booths in the front and the banquette in the back. Boccato said once these are done, and his plumbing, refrigeration, and some custom-made sinks are installed, the bar will be ready for the masses. “We just got our refrigeration in this week, so we’re back to a construction site for just a couple more weeks. We’ll be opening in April.” I showed him a printed copy of the Grub Street item, which he was eager to read. “It’s all pretty accurate,” he said. “Our sinks, our plumbing, and the refrigeration are things we take very seriously. We’re juicing fresh to order behind the bar, so all of that has to be meticulously planned, and we can’t just slap that together and expect the same level of quality that we have at the other bars. We’ll also be introducing a hand-cut, made-to-order ice station behind the bar, so when you order a drink, someone will actually cut the ice right in front of you. ” He told me they already held two private parties for investors — one on New Year’s and the other near Valentine’s Day — and that everyone had a great time. And despite catching the bar with its “pants down” (as Boccato put it), the fin-de-siècle charm of the place bled through.

Housed in a former warehouse with 18-foot ceilings, Dutch Kills exudes antique old-worldliness. It’s narrow and shelled in dark, mahogany-stained wainscoting. In the back there’s a sawdust-covered stage area with a piano Boccato got from his mother’s Brooklyn home. He’ll have a band (the same from Little Branch) playing jazz and ragtime from Thursday to Saturday. Even the cash register is old — a stunning relic from 1913 that Boccato found online.

Upon entering, you’re in the “tavern,” as Boccato likes to call it. This has five booths that seat six, and then three more that seat two. The tavern leads into the bar area, which unlike Little Branch, will have stools (seven to be exact). In the back of the bar by the stage, there’s a banquette and room for a large handful of drinkers, bringing the place to a capacity of about 75. “We pride ourselves on the fact that we don’t pack the bar. We keep the ambiance at a level that’s comfortable for people to have their drinks. If there has to be a wait outside, there has to be a wait outside.” And about the bar’s nonconformist Queens locale, he had this to say:

Sasha came up to me a couple of years ago, I guess he must have known I was a longtime resident of this neighborhood. Growing up, my best friend lived here, and I lived here for a while in my twenties. Sasha knew that Brooklyn had been developed and saturated with bars — and we’ve got some great bars like the Weather Up — but Long Island City had this burgeoning presence insofar as art and commerce, but not so much in the way of cocktail places. So this was an opportunity to come into the neighborhood when it’s developing at the rate that it is. If you look around, there are buildings popping up everywhere, and the Jackson Avenue beautification project is happening right in front of us. We have the luxury of being in this space that was a warehouse, and we don’t have a residential presence, so I’m not going to be disturbing my neighbors by selling cocktails until 2 in the morning.

For those Manhattanites who would rather stay in than dare leave their precious island, Dutch Kills is located close enough to at least six subway lines and two cab centers that coming and going should be hassle-free. There’s even has a conveniently spare website telling you exactly how to get there. And in breaking with the stealth of the other bars, Kills will have a neon “Bar” sign out front, in case the line doesn’t give it away.