You don’t need to take a train upstate to sample spirits made with New York’s finest ingredients; there’s plenty of booze being distilled in New York City, specifically Brooklyn. The artsy borough is known for its creative ingenuity, and that attitude can be seen and sipped at its many distilleries. Here are the seven best distilleries in Brooklyn that are worth crossing the bridge to visit.
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Brooklyn Navy Yard
The oldest operating whiskey distillery in New York City and the first since Prohibition, Kings County Distillery produces moonshine that actually tastes pretty darn delicious—in fact, it’s won multiple awards. In addition to their famous white lightning, the distillery also makes bourbon, chocolate whiskey (infused with ground cacao bean husks from the nearby Mast Brothers) and single malt whiskey, among other whiskey varieties. Stop by the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the $14 tour and tasting (Tuesday through Sunday), or visit their tasting room for a cocktail like a Peated Bourbon Old Fashioned.
This waterfront distillery sources grains from upstate New York farmers for their line of spirits. Van Brunt Stillhouse produces an “American whiskey,” a rye, a bourbon and a single malt whiskey, along with an unaged white whiskey. They also make an aged rum and plan to release a grappa in collaboration with local Brooklyn wineries. Tours are held Thursday through Sunday, cost $10, and include a tasting. Feel free to skip the tour and just stop by their tasting room for a cocktail or neat spirit.
The team at the New York Distilling Company is known for their renowned Dorothy Parker gin—an American gin made with botanicals like juniper, elderberries, cinnamon and hibiscus—but they also produce a wide variety of delicious spirits, like a navy-strength gin and a Rock & Rye (rye whiskey flavored with rock candy sugar). There are a wide variety of tours offered, from complimentary distillery tours on weekends, to VIP private barrel tasting tours ($35), to mixology classes ($55). In the summer months, the distillery has a dog-friendly outdoor area with picnic tables and lawn games, but the Shanty, the full-service bar located at the front of the distillery, is open year-round.
According to the Greenhook Ginsmiths, they’re not just “one of those distilleries that produces gin and vodka so [they] have something to sell while [their] whiskey ages.” Their flagship offering is their American Dry gin, a wheat-based gin with a strong juniper backbone highlighted by nine botanicals, including elderflower, cinnamon and chamomile. Their other two bottles are ruby-hued Beach Plum Gin Liqueur, which is similar to sloe gin, and Old Tom gin that’s been aged for two years in bourbon casks and finished in oloroso sherry casks. Take a Saturday tour for $20 to meet the ginsmiths, see how the gin is made and, of course, taste the gin.
You’ll get to indulge in two vices for the price of one at Widow Jane: booze and chocolate. The Red Hook distillery, which produces whiskeys like 10-year-aged bourbon, and oak- and applewood-aged rye, is also home to the Cacao Prieto distillery. Cacao Prieto primarily makes artisan chocolate bars, but they also produce a selection of cacao-flavored rums and chocolate liqueurs. Walk-in tours of both facilities are held on weekends for $20. Or you can take a private tour for $30, during which you’ll get to taste both their boozy and edible offerings.
This distillery may only make vodka, but they do it really, really well. Their Industry Standard vodka is distilled from beet sugar and has a sweet nose, smooth mouthfeel, notes of vanilla and pepper on the palate, and a crisp mineral finish—an ideal vodka to sip on the rocks with a plate of smoked meats and pickled vegetables. Visit the distillery for a $5 tour on Saturdays to see how both the vodka and the stills are made. Or just grab a drink at the tasting room bar, open Fridays and Saturdays.
A nod to the Prohibition era that plagued New York with legislative woes for years to come, the Noble Experiment seeks to bring back the old tradition of distilling rum—America’s first spirit—in New York City. The distillery uses 100 percent domestic ingredients, including locally sourced molasses, to create a dry white rum called Owney’s Original New York City Rum. The distillery is also experimenting (sorry) with infusions and barrel-aged expressions. Tours are $10 on Saturdays, during which you can also enjoy an Owney’s Daiquiri at the “Daq Shack.”