7 Best Brooklyn Distilleries You Need to Know About
A surplus of abandoned warehouses and an influx of extreme locavores are a potent combination. So powerful, in fact, that they recently turned Kings County into New York State’s number one booze-making hub. With DIY in their DNA and an inclination for innovation, Brooklyn's finest spirit producers are worth checking out this spring.
Kings County Distillery
Roommates-turned-business partners Colin Spoelman and David Haskell helm Kings County Distillery, a pioneering Brooklyn Navy Yard operation where they score major sustainability points for the corn and barley patch onsite. The tipple trifecta here consists of a chocolate husk-infused whiskey (courtesy of the nearby Mast Brothers Factory), a barrel-strength bourbon, and a double-distilled moonshine—a toast to Spoelman’s Kentucky roots.
Van Brunt Stillhouse
Occupying a former paint factory in Red Hook, Van Brunt Stillhouse takes a “limited edition” approach to its artisanal offerings, which include handmade batches of honeyed Due North rum, grappa, moonshine, and—their most popular whiskey—a harmonious four-grain blend that’s treated to nearly half a year of oak barrel TLC. New to their constantly evolving menu is Tokki, the first traditionally crafted rice soju to be fermented on American soil.
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Industry City Distillery
With sweeping Statue of Liberty views, the airy tasting room at Industry City Distillery—a seven-year-old Sunset Park stalwart where each component of the fermentation and distillatory process was custom-built—makes for a picturesque perch. Pair those views with a highball of their pristine, eco-conscious vodka (they churn out nine types), which swaps traditional grain for squeaky-clean beet sugar.
New York Distilling Co.
Three varieties of gin—including an ultra-strong Navy Strength, a floral and palate-friendly Dorothy Parker, and the Chief Gowanus made with rye and hops—hold court at Williamsburg's New York Distilling Company. Sample them all with inventive mixers like hibiscus syrup and wildflower honey at the adjoining cocktail lair, The Shanty.
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If the bottles at Greenhook Ginsmiths seem particularly aromatic (i.e. redolent of cinnamon, coriander, and ginger), it’s because creator (and proud Bayside native) Steve DeAngelo practically stews the brew in a 300-liter “mercury vacuum." That seal is responsible for an especially languid simmer. Don’t miss the Beach Plum Gin Liqueur, DeAngelo’s signature spin on a classic sloe gin where he swaps traditional English plums with a tangier variety native to the coastal northeast.
Hometown pride runs deep at Red Hook's Widow Jane, which relies on the same type of limestone found on the Brooklyn Bridge to filter the water for its Heirloom Bourbon. (Said rock is believed to contain superior mineral content to its legendary Kentucky counterpart). While you’re here, be sure to check out the series of indulgent chocolate liqueurs at its sister operation, Cacao Prieto.
The Noble Experiment
Founder Bridget Firtle left her job as a hedge-fund analyst to chase her boozy dreams in 2011. Her 4,000-square-foot East Williamsburg distillery and one-woman liquor lab, The Noble Experiment, focuses exclusively on rum. Its dazzling debutante, Owney’s (named for a Prohibition-era Hell’s Kitchen gangster), is a vanilla-laced version of the sugarcane spirit—so smooth that it’s best sipped on the rocks.
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