Bars /

Caledonia Bar, New York

Caledonia was the name given by the Roman legions during their relentless march north through Britain for the part of the island, that despite repeated attempts, they couldn’t overwhelm or conquer – Scotland essentially. And Scotch is at the heart of this jewel of a pub, with over 200 bottles including some really great expressions that aren’t to be found in many places across the city. Michael has built some lasting relationships with many of the ambassadors and managers of those brands; and from the get-go he brought in Brockmans and saw it as fitting right in with the diverse portfolio of his back bar.

Brockmans Quiz night

Brockmans Quiz night

Opened in January 2011, the philosophy behind the Caledonia has been to marry its extensive spirits range with that of a fun, neighbourhood bar popular with regulars and the wider community, both in the Upper East Side, but also as something of a destination night spot. Michael hosts frequent tastings and events, including the monthly “Brockmans trivia night”, which not only helps fill the bar but provides a great platform for the numerous brands to showcase their products.

While the bar has over 200 whiskies, it only carries four gins and Brockmans is by far and away the best seller; thanks both to the staff engagement with the brand and for a fabulous cocktail on the menu – The Brockmans Bramble. This is a new addition for the summer replacing the Aviation, and is proving a great hit. And, as Michael explained: in this day and age regardless of the style and theme of a pub or restaurant a solid cocktail list is a must, and a key to any success.

On that note, we asked him if there were any trends he has seen over the last year or so. Like many of our other accounts, vodka is dying a death on cocktail lists across the board, with more bartenders preferring to use gin, especially in their classic cocktails. He also feels there has been a perceptible shift from multi-ingredient drinks to simpler, more traditional ones – perhaps appealing to a wider audience of bar-goers, and consumers who are looking for a degree of ‘authenticity’ in their glasses. This is indicative of the spirits industry as a whole – looking to fulfil a need for craft, farm to table, tradition and heritage in what they’re ordering.

Caledonia bar, New York

Caledonia bar, New York

The Caledonia is also a great place not only to meet friends, but also to head out on a date – indeed there is a discount for anyone there thanks to Tinder. And, while he could probably write a book on the bizarre and funny stuff head across the counter, it never fails to amuse when people get the intro all wrong, or worse, with the wrong person altogether.

Like any great bar, the Caledonia has the right recipe of customers, atmosphere, choice of drinks and engagement with consumers, both regular worthies and first time visitors. In the words of the Scottish songwriter, Dougie Maclean – “Caledonia you’re calling me, and I’m going home”; and Brockmans definitely feels right at home here.

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