By Richard Thomas
As with so many things trendy, New York hosts one of the hottest whiskey scenes in the U.S. Between the liquor companies, stores and bars, it seems every single day hosts not just one, but several tasting events.
At the same time, New York remains one of the national centers for indie music. Keeping both things in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the two things meet and mingle in the middle, something the band Stereo Off amply demonstrates. Every member of the band has a taste for whiskey. Given that the band just released a new single, Hotel Mirror, I was fortunate to catch up with them and talk whiskey.
RT: From what I can tell you all like whiskey, and collectively you embrace wide range. Just for starters, maybe you can sound off individually on who likes what — bourbon, scotch, Irish, rye, moonshine, etc?
Bridget: Scotch. But not shitty scotch!
Darren: Tullamore Dew Whiskey
Niall: Wide range of whiskies indeed, from Single Malt Scotch such as Aberlour and the aforementioned smoky scotch Lagavulin, to lesser known regional whiskies from traveling in Asia such as Black Dog and Jade Supremacy Blue.
RT: And how did you all find your way to whiskey? It’s trendy lately, and the whiskey scene in NYC is especially hot, what with events and tastings happening every week. Did the buzz bring you in, or does anyone predate it?
Niall: It definitely seems to be the “in thing” these days, though I’ve been a loyal whisky fan for a while now. Seems like I know more and more people who didn’t really fancy whisky a few years back, haven since gotten into it. Perhaps part of it is the availability of better types of whisky, better brands, helping escape the stigma many had with the more commercial brand names.
Sebastian: Along those same lines, I always liked whiskey but had no range and only knew of low end stuff. Our friend whom we dubbed ‘Brother Sheetrock’ is an connoisseur of single malts and he’s the one who taught me to take whisky and scotch seriously. He started a Whisky Club, which has been hosted by various people for a few years now. In fact, one early gathering is where I first met Niall; Sheetrock and his endorsements of Oban and Talisker have brought a lot of minds together. And Bridget taught me that whisky plays nice with beer, when you’re tasteful about it.
RT: It’s often said of writers that whiskey is something of a muse, but the stereotype for musicians is more often one of whiskey and steam-blowing hijinks. Do you find whiskey is more of your creative lubricant or your wind-down stress reliever?
Niall: I’m sure its played both parts at some point, but tends to be more the latter, and a good after-set drink.
RT: Now, you guys are an indie rock band. What is your perception of whiskey in the indie scene these days? I live in Portugal nowadays, and it’s been several years since I was at a club taking in a show, but back then I was basically the only guy on the floor standing there with a Maker’s on the rocks instead of a beer. Would I still be alone do you think?
Niall: Definitely not. It really is more common place now that I think about it compared to say a few years ago, in shows, in restaurants, going out. Even bars and venues you wouldn’t expect to have a decent selection do.
RT: What are some of your favorite, local watering holes for ordering a good whiskey?
Sebastian: Isle of Skye in Brooklyn has the faves and cool rare stuff, and the bartenders really know it.
Niall: On the Rocks on the West Side has some great rare whisky/whiskey finds and is a small cozy place, so that’s one of my favorites in NYC.