The Best Scotch Bar In America Could Be Hidden in This Small Town.
This Easton bar and lounge, located in Maryland, offers 900 Scotch bottle, Scotch topped oysters, and a Swiss Roll Cake with foie gras.
Easton in Maryland is a culinary hotspot that has become a popular destination. Easton, Maryland is only an hour away from Baltimore. The town is attracting attention for its businesses, including The StewartThe elegant bar and lounge has an unrivaled collection of rare Scotch and a menu of dishes that are designed to match perfectly with the spirit.
Part of Bluepoint Hospitality’s empire in Easton, The Stewart also boasts an impressive inventory of Belgian beer and vintage Champagne, including Krug Brut Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs 2000, which retails for $1,125 a bottle. But Scotch is where the beverage program truly shines — there are 900 bottles in the bar’s inventory, representing 52 preeminent Scotch houses around Scotland’s six whisky-making regions, from peaty, fruity versions from Speyside to the smoky boldness of the spirits matured in Islay.
“It’s all single-malt Scotch,” says Natalie Tapken, beverage director for Bluepoint, noting that The Stewart’s list focuses on Scotland exclusively in order to highlight the country’s rich terroir. Menu selections include Rosebank 30-Year – a citrus-tinged, vibrant malt that was produced by a now closed branch of Ian Macleod Distillers, in the Scottish Lowlands. Glen Grant is another award-winning Speyside offering from the 1950s. You can also enjoy eight Laphroaig pours, including rare spirits from 30 and 40 year old.
Tapken believes that The Stewart would be a good place to start if you are new to Scotch. “We have a lot of what I would call ‘gateway Scotches’, to get you into the world of single-malts, which can be intimidating.” She points toward Glenmorangie Signet as an example of a sweeter Scotch that pairs beautifully with cheeses and dessert, like The Stewart’s decadent sticky toffee pudding — an updated version of the English classic with a rich caramel sauce and whipped Chantilly cream.
With so many Scotch styles to choose from here, there’s no clear customer favorite. Prices range from $8 for Ardbeg 10 Year from Islay up to $400 for Macallan 1800 Series No. The Highlands of Scotland.
The Stewart offers a wide range of dishes, including appetizers, main courses, and desserts. The menu is overseen entirely by chef David Kneller. His style is eclectic and fresh, taking inspiration from Thai cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisine, and North African food, among other things. Kneller and Bluepoint executive Chef Harley Peet discuss new recipes with each other to see how they will complement the beverage programs. “I focus on the Scotch more than the Champagnes and wine,” he says. “I want to stay true to The Stewart, which started as a single-malt Scotch bar.”
Kneller says that this involves thinking about the taste of each bite of beef, fish or pasta when it is accompanied by Scotch. He incorporates the spirit into the dish itself. Kneller will, for instance, mix Ardbeg 5-Year wee beastie with mustard at Wednesday burger night. “You get the usual mustard flavors, but then you get this extra little zing and smokiness from the Scotch,” he explains.
While duck and fish figure prominently on the menu, one of Kneller’s most popular dishes is his take on deviled eggs; smoked salmon and yolk are whipped into a mousse, then topped with chives and Kaluga Grand Cru caviar. Likewise, the short rib grilled cheese — with beef braised in red wine and served on rye that’s been slathered with horseradish and mayonnaise — is a consistent best-seller.
Tapken enjoys the Chincoteague oyster shot, which she tops with a peaty, smoky Ardberg Scotch. “You might not think, ‘Oh, I’m going to have Scotch with my oysters,’ but when you spray it on top, it’s just this great, flavorful experience,” she says.
Kneller recommends the Rhode Island sea mollusks, which are served in a dashi-based broth that is infused with prosciutto. And he says a personal favorite is the luxe Swiss cake roll made with foie gras — instead of cream, Kneller spreads a foie gras ganache over the cake before rolling it up into a sweet-and-salty treat.
“We have so many variations of Scotch, from super soft to super strong, so we have an option [to go with] every dish,” Kneller says. Customers can always get an assist from Scotch sommelier Adam Golinski, who will inquire about a guest’s preferred flavor profile then serve them a few samples to find the right match for both the order and the diner’s palate.
“We want you to taste everything The Stewart has to offer, and experience the service and the atmosphere itself. It’s a flavor journey in the best possible way,” Kneller says.
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