My own favorite pub in the whole wide world is the Bow Bar in Edinburgh. Eight real ales well kept and 120 or so malts would be enough to recommend it. Add a knowledgeable staff and a good mix of interesting local and transient clientele. No music, and the one time I ever saw the television on was in a moment of world crisis. And no g--d---- fruit machines. The lack of these distractions is conducive to conversation, and I never fail to meet someone worth talking to. My only quibbles are the lack of food (like I can't find somewhere to eat in Edinburgh) and the presence of smoke--I've become rather accustomed to the smoke-free atmosphere here in Massachusetts--but the Bow is not bad in that regard as Scottish pubs go.
Another great pub in that vein is the Manx Pub in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Not such a great selection of libations, but again lacking the all-too-common distractions that squelch social interaction.
And there's something to be said for the Highland Inn, which may be polluted with fruit machines and Sky TV, but serves as the social center for the village in which it sits, or, lacking that, the surrounding countryside. The Stein Inn in Skye, the Cleaton House Hotel in Orkney, and the George Hotel in Inveraray (a must for those visiting the Loch Fyne Whisky Shop) all spring to mind.
What's your favorite?
- Spirit of Islay
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Others i'd like to add are The Whisky bar of the Laichmoray Hotel , Elgin ( superb choice and excellent food ) , The Bar of the Port Charlotte Hotel ( Great choice of whiskies , Islay ales and Black Sheep on Draft , Log fire .... wish i was there !) .
At one time i would have said the bar of the Lochside Hotel but all the personalities gone out of it .......
It's where I first discovered really good grain whiskies and the 'make you really silent while you think about it a long time' Aberlour 1976.
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Ian Logan wrote:There are more and more good whisky bars appearing all the time. For me its The Lismore and The Pot Still in Glasgow, The Mansefield Hotel in Elgin and the St Andrews Bar just off Braodway in New York.
New one in Glasgow worth checking is Oranmor.
The Lios Mor / Lismore is indeed a fine bar. Just moved into a flat round the corner from it recently & it has quickly become my "local". Staff are excellent too.
As for Oran Mor, which I believe is owned by the same people as the Lios Mor, all I can say is I wish the service & prices were as fantastic as it's exterior. I was served by a girl in there at the whisky bar who proceded to tell me "No offence, but I hate it when people ask for whisky".
Methinks she's in the wrong job.
"Where d'ye think I'll get a ladder at this time of night," was the barman's curt response.
From which I was made to understand that many of the less "common" single malts were displayed purely for their decorative qualities
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Ian Logan wrote:Just wanted to say I know the owners and managers of Oranmor, Lismore, and ben nevis. All trade as stand alone businesses.
I should have mentioned just HOW good the service was last night at the Lios Mor, seeing as I did mention how crap it had been at Oran Mor.
My wife asked the barmaid at the Lios Mor for an Ardbeg Uigeadail for me. The bar manager was called over to point it out on the shelf for the barmaid, & after we took our drinks back to our seats he came over & introduced himself to us. After chatting away to us for a few minutes about whisky, the Lios Mor, etc. he produced two boxed whisky miniatures & gave them to us at no cost.
And also a mention for the bar staff, who as usual were friendly, helpful & full of banter. People who are in the RIGHT job.
So as you can imagine, I'm finding it quite hard to go anywhere else at the moment.
http://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/out/arc ... yvore.html
"However the Lismore is more than just the sum of its magnificent decor. Colin has also deliberately set out to create a place where you will literally meet the full spectrum of society - wee men in bunnets, university professors, artists, musicians, shoppers, builders. poets ... Another west city outlet owned and developed by Colin (and designed by Ranald) is the Ben Nevis in Argyle Street ..."
The Evening Times also reports the Beattie connection with all 3 (and adds the Old College Bar):
Great post though, im taking notes for my next visit to Scotland.
The best pub i ever been to anywhere (and thats quite a few years of pubbing, i started out young) was no doubt The Old Inn on Skye. This is a MUST TRY for everyone that visits skye! Its located at Carbost about 100 Meters from the Talisker Distillery, you wont have a hard time finding it, its the only pub in the village.
Its relatively small, very cosy and the most friendly people i ever met work there. They serve a small range of malts wich changes all the time. We ment to stay there for 1 night, but it was so great we stayed 3. Its also ideally for meeting and talking to the locals as its the only pub around. i broke my record there, never had more single malt whisky on one night as there, plus i was still standing wich cant be said for some of the locals
for the rest i usually have a dram whenever i visit the pub where my whiskyclub is located but i prefer to taste whisky at home.
I've been single-maltless in Seattle (yes, I hear the groans ) for a couple of months now and have been searching for decent places to relax. Zig-Zag Cafe on Western Avenue is a friendly place. About 25 single malts but with nothing really outstanding on their menu but the people there are friendly and service is great- that's worth something if you're not yet familiar with the area.
Bookstore Cafe (why are so many pubs called "cafe's" in Seattle?) claims to have 60 single malts, which I suppose they do. But how many Glenfiddichs and Glenmorangie's can you have. OK place, service was friendly.
Best place I've found so far in Seattle is the Barking Dog in the Ballard neighborhood. Friendly service and over 40 single malts (very good for this region). The downside is that it is very loud (can't anyone do interior acoustics right?) and it is well out of the center. It's sister pub, Riverhouse Alehouse in Snohomish is reported to have 150 single malts. It's an hour outside of Seattle, though.
rthomson wrote:Best place I've found so far in Seattle is the Barking Dog in the Ballard neighborhood. Friendly service and over 40 single malts (very good for this region). The downside is that it is very loud (can't anyone do interior acoustics right?) and it is well out of the center. It's sister pub, Riverhouse Alehouse in Snohomish is reported to have 150 single malts. It's an hour outside of Seattle, though.
An hour to get there...how long to get back?
Where did you have that Balvenie Port Wood 21 and drop the menu and actually have the good sense to get out before you got thrown out? (Mentioned on another thread.)
I spent the weekend in Virginia Beach and was reduced to drinking bad Guinness and Jameson's (not inappropriate for the season) in a fake Irish pub featuring fake Irish musicians playing fake Irish music. Sometimes you have to experience things like this to appreciate what you have. Still, it wasn't as bad as the St Paddy's Day I spent in Lynchburg, Virginia, a day in which I had the worst Guinness ever (on CO2! ) and actually said hello to Jerry Falwell.
This year I will spend the day in Hurley's in Montreal. Now that will be too much fun.
MrTattieHeid wrote:This year I will spend the day in Hurley's in Montreal. Now that will be too much fun.
Now that's a PUB! great place - great people.
Downtown Montreal actually has about 5 -read- good "Irish" Pubs all within 10 minutes walking distance of eachother.
The 'Ole Dublin
All superb places!
MrTattieHeid wrote:Where did you have that Balvenie Port Wood 21 and drop the menu and actually have the good sense to get out before you got thrown out? (Mentioned on another thread.)
That was at the Bookstore Cafe. It's a decent enough place and for those that find themselves traveling through Seattle the location is great, right in the heart of downtown. And they give you a chance or two before they throw you out
http://www.augustin.no/augustineng/main ... 3&gid=1343
- Paul A Jellis
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Flamemax wrote:Downtown Montreal actually has about 5 -read- good "Irish" Pubs all within 10 minutes walking distance of eachother.
The 'Ole Dublin
All superb places!
Used to hang a lot in the Old Dublin, listening to Liam Callahan. They had a great bartending crew for a while--Pat, Geoff, Marc, Steve, and the delightfully-named Skye. Not to denigrate the current staff in any way, but they're all gone and the place isn't the same. Steve is dancing somewhere, Geoff is bar manager (I think) at the Brutopia brewpub, Marc is at Hurley's (along with the lovely Sue and Kathy), and Pat is playing with Jonathan Moorman in a two-man unit called Solstice--they play at Hurley's regularly and are excellent.
I actually stood in line for two hours to get into Hurley's on St. Pat's--rather wish I hadn't. Haven't stood in line to get into a bar in twenty years. Wouldn't have this time, either, if I'd known how long it would be. Much too crowded to be much fun. Actually, I think I enjoyed the banter in line more than the scene in the pub (if only I'd thought to bring a flask). Back to normal, pretty much, Friday and Saturday, and a good time was had by all. Had a Bushmill's Malt on the day, a Bruichladdich 15 Saturday (they have a pretty nice selection).
rthomson wrote:Best place I've found so far in Seattle is the Barking Dog in the Ballard neighborhood. Friendly service and over 40 single malts
Thanks for the info Ron. As I live near the zoo that isn't to far from me. I have been going to a few places in Fremont (my friends all like Dad Watsons for the beer) but I find the prices a little too high. I think it was $9.50 for a shot of Macallan 12 Fine Oak and $12 for a shot of Oban. Just too much $$$ for my taste. I remember Murphy's had Talisker, and Glenmorangie for $6.50 which was much better for my pocket book. Sill nothing fancy at the places just the very basics. I will check out this Barking Dog.
In Scotland we have landed in some great whisky bars, while others have been somewhat less than we were expecting based on prior publicity or reputation.
To me, the following items are main ingredients for a good whisky bar: malt selection, price and malt list, glassware, bar staff and atmosphere. Here are some notes on each.
Obviously an important factor. A good malt selection should consist of a variety of malts from each of the traditional whisky regions and contain a range of expressions of some of the more popular ones (e.g., Glenfarlclas 10, 15, 21 and 30 y.o.) including both distillery bottlings and private bottlings, particularly cask strength versions. This means that the bar selection would have to have at least 50 - 75 different whiskies. Several expressions of malt produced at near-by distilleries also adds to the selection. For example, in Fort William we came across a pub that had several types of Ben Nevis – malt that was hard to find in other pubs. Another example was The Highlander at Craigellachie, which had several Craigellachie single malts available (perhaps because it was the distillery manager’s favorite watering hole!). A range of blended whiskies, grain whiskies and malt whiskies from other countries are fine additions to the selection.
Malt List and Price:
A great feature to any whisky bar is the malt list – a menu listing all the whiskies available and the price (and size of measure) for each.
I have spent many minutes perusing a fine array of whiskies on the shelf, while the bartender waits patiently (or not) while I make a selection, only to find out that it is over 10 dollars per shot and I would have preferred something else. You feel rushed in these situations and forced into making a quick decision.
A good malt list should list all the whiskies alphabetically, preferably by region, along with the price. This way you know exactly what you are getting and there are no embarrassing surprises about the cost of a dram. Order a 1951 Balvenie at the Craigellachie hotel and you will end up paying over 200 dollars for a single measure! A malt list is like a good book - you should be able to sit back and enjoy it to soak-up the information and make a wise choice.
Regarding price, a selection of the more common blends and malts at regular bar prices should be available. For the connoisseur, a wider selection of older whiskies and subsequent higher prices should be available.
A fine line here. Staff that know nothing about Scotch whisky or malts can sometimes be better than the “know it all”. In many bars, even in Scotland, the bar staff are not familiar with malts and you need to know your way around whisky to get what you want. On the other hand, the know- it-all can be too “helpful” – and drone on and on - enough to put you off your dram. On one occasion on Islay, the bartender kept telling his customers that a malt is not malt whisky unless it is 10 years old!. I would rather have friendly bartenders that can blether on about the area, the people, and the country as opposed to about whisky anyway.
The problem of the right glass is one that many of us encounter when ordering whisky. Ask for a whisky and you will automatically be served the venue’s “standard” whisky glass. This standard glass varies from one establishment to another, but is normally a tumbler or highball glass.
The availability of a proper glass to fully appreciate your dram is very important. In my opinion, the ideal glass should rounded at the bottom with a narrow mouth to allow the free flowing fragrances a chance to rise and converge at the top. A tulip or pear-shaped glass is best.
It pays to go to the bar before ordering and ask to see the type of glasses on hand. Most bars and restaurants should have some form of copita or brandy glass. If not, choose the smallest wineglass or flute, or any small glass with a narrower top than bottom. If you are going to pay top dollar for top malt, you want to get the most out of it.
Atmosphere and company can turn a mediocre whisky pub into one of the most enjoyable experiences ever. The right atmosphere can make or break the evening no matter where you are. Even the same pub can change from one visit to the next.
Atmosphere means many things - an Old World style pub, open fires, friendly people, great crack (conversation) and a feeling of warmth and belonging – and no Televisions, loud music, big screens….
One example we had was in The McNish in Tobermory. It is not known as a malt bar but it did have several whiskies available, including some older Ledaig that was hard to find elsewhere. It had been pouring rain all day and we dropped in to dry off. We sat in a wee room with a coal fire, two leather easy chairs, with a wooden bench and table, wall lamps, historic photos and all the paraphernalia that a Scottish snug bar should have. The wee snug was called “The Chain locker and games room for the friends of Tirom Castle – Tobermory Branch.” With a wee dram at our sides, the fire glowing throwing ghostly shadows the room, casting a warmth that penetrated right through into our bones, my wife and I lay back in our chairs, with smiles of contentment on our faces. A warm glow all around. It is difficult to describe in words the feeling that one gets, tucked away in a wee snug, out of the way of the blowing wind and rain, with whisky warming your insides, caressing your shoulders as it circulates in the bloodstream, that leg numbing, tuck in for the day type feeling. An experience we will never forget.
1) Real ale. Not vital for a malt bar, I suppose, but for me personally, an indispensable complement. I recall being really annoyed that not one pub in Dufftown had cask ale.
2) I don't think it's absolutely necessary to have 50-75 malts to be a good malt bar--just a good, well-chosen variety (i.e. more than the six Classics!). A very large selection is great, of course, but not every place has to be an adventure. It should be possible to have twenty or even fewer and still have something for everybody, and a nice variety for a few evenings' worth of dramming.
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