With a speak-easy tucked around every corner and a mixologist in every brownstone parlor, the demand for quality spirits has never been so high—even moonshine has been elevated from bottom of the tub to the top shelf. In keeping with the zeitgeist, Brooklynites have taken a much loved, much consumed product and gone back to its roots to rediscover and recreate the wonder at its heart. Distilleries have been around in this part of town since the 1700’s, when “Breuckelen” was a Dutch settlement. They thrived once again during Prohibition (because nothing makes us thirstier than the word “No”), only to peter out during the Depression; but with the current rebuilding of the waterfront comes a fascination with exploring our city’s tasty beginnings.
This Father’s Day, when you’re celebrating where YOU began, take Dad on a trip (and multiple sips) to one or two of Brooklyn’s amazing distilleries.
Here’s our guide to Brooklyn’s burgeoning Distillery Mile(s), from top to bottom. Start in Williamsburg and work your way down to Sunset Park for a daylong boozy adventure, or choose one or two to focus on. Don’t forget to come up for air…and maybe a bite to eat.
New York Distilling Co. – Williamsburg
Picking up where the bounty of Prohibition left off (once, with over 50,000 illicit stills in NYC at its peak—go team!), New York Distilling produces Gin and American Rye. The kind that won’t make you go blind. Their spirits are named for the spirits of hooch-lovers past, like Dorothy Parker and Navy Yard Commandant, Matthew Calbraith Perry, true aficionados will appreciate the aromatics and smooth spice that fires up the palate after a sip.
Tastings & Tours: Sat & Sun from 3-5 pm. Live Music: Saturday & Sunday at 4pm.
Kings County Distillery – Brooklyn Navy Yard
If Dad’s a history buff, this is the place for him: New York’s oldest whiskey distillery, where they hand-make award-winning whiskey and moonshine in the 115-year-old Paymaster Building, a mere stumble away from the site of the infamous Brooklyn Whiskey Wars of the 1860s. They even grow their own corn and barley at a mini onsite farm, recycling the grains as pig feed and compost once they’re done with a batch. That’s so Brooklyn.
The distillery is open for tours and tastings from 2:30pm to 5:30pm every Saturday. They don’t have a phone and no reservations are required. Tours, which include a tasting and admission to the Boozeum, are $8. They last about 45 minutes and run every 20-30 minutes.
Widow Jane – Red Hook
‘Kay, so…let’s just come right out and say it: you can taste on-site distilled New York whiskey AND Cacao Prieto chocolate (and small batches of cacao-based liqueurs). I mean…just…go there already. Words are useless at this point.
Tour Details: Walk-in tours of our chocolate factory and distillery are available on Saturdays at 2:00 & 4:00 PM. Private tours are available generally on Thursdays. To schedule an appointment, call: 347.225.0130. Tours are $15 a person and include a tasting.
Van Brunt Stillhouse – Red Hook
Named for one of the founding fathers of Brooklyn, Cornelius Van Brunt, you and your own father can visit and wax nostalgic over a tipple of handcrafted, small batch spirits, including whiskey, rum and moonshine. Van Brunt honors the richly sauce-infused history of Brooklyn by creating artisanal spirits the way our forbears did.
Tour Details: 6 Bay Street - 1st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Tours occur every Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 4. No appointment is necessary for small groups. The tasting room is open from 1-5 on Saturday and Sunday.
Industry City Distillery – Sunset Park
A vodka that’s proudly made by self-proclaimed NERDS, we’re pleased with the results of their combined ingenuity and geek-outery: Industry Standard Vodka. Made in equipment that’s designed in their lab and built in Brooklyn, taste-tested by humans, and perfected by endless trial-and-error—we’ve never heard of anyone having so much fun with science!
Tour Details:Visit the website to arrange a tour, tasting, or attend “bottling day”: www.drinkicd.com/#visit