New York City's oldest operating whiskey distillery is chugging on in a 117-year-old building in the Navy Yards, and you can peek in on the process during facility tours offered almost daily. The only thing more impressive than the traditional Scotland-made copper stills used here are the way the wares taste (the American Distillery Institute named Kings County the 2016 American Distillery of the Year). It only seems right that you can sip the historic amber elixirs in an utterly charming, and itself historic, tasting room. Built in 1896, the barracks-like stone building is home to an otherworldly bar with a spiral staircase and bistro chairs glowing by candlelight.
Bartenders here know their stuff, and will use you as a guinea pig to preview their newest concoctions. Don’t be surprised when they gingerly step into the expansive, ivy-covered side garden to pick fresh herbs that'll probably be used to garnish your glass. Seasonal punches are surprisingly sophisticated, and can offer a savory and earthy alternative to typical sugary and fruity variations. A sampling of moonshine, whiskey’s clear and less mature cousin, is required, and does well mixed into updated takes on the Old Fashioned and mojito. Opening early on weekdays, Kings County makes for a contemplative coffee stop, too. Make no mistake: few things compare with feeling a whiskey buzz in a quaint Brooklyn castle.