The 10 Best Distilleries in NYC(-ish)
A few weeks ago, we put up a list of the top 10 breweries in NYC(-ish). But beers are not the only alcohol brewing in New York. The distilling world is also on the rise after a shift in New York distilling laws in 2002 when the passage of a law allowing farm distillery licenses helped begin to restore New York's once vibrant distilling culture. From whiskey to grappa to regional specialties like sorel hibiscus liqueur, New York-produced spirits are becoming ever more diverse and refined. Here are the 10 best distilleries in NYC(-ish) right now.
Ok, so this one's a bit of a cheat, since vermouth is not distilled, it's made from distilled products, wine, and aromatics. But Atsby's two bright, unique bottlings--made with all New York grapes and brandies--still net the producer a deserved spot on this list. The Amberthorn vermouth is made with Long Island Sound Chardonnay steeped with Chinese anise, French lavender, and holy basil (along with several other botanicals), then blended with a small-batch apple brandy made by an upstate artisan distiller and a touch of raw summer honey. The Armadillo Cake vermouth also uses Long Island Sound Chardonnay, but this time, it's infused with wild celery, nigella seeds, nutmeg, dark Indian Muscovado honey, and, oddly enough, shiitake mushrooms. The complex flavor combinations make these unique drinks, and 95 percent of the ingredients are produced or grown here in New York.
After almost washing away during Sandy, this Red Hook distillery is back on its feet with charismatic owner, Jackie Summers, leading the way. Jack from Brooklyn specializes in a Caribbean staple: sorel liqueur. Once used for its medicinal powers and aphrodisiac effects, Jack has modernized the traditional recipe, blending Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia, Nigerian ginger, Indonesian nutmeg, Moroccan hibiscus, pure cane sugar, and 100 percent organic grain alcohol. Served hot as a holiday drink or cold as a summer refreshment, Jack's sorel is a treat. (And check out an awesome list of recipe ideas online.)
8. Breuckelen Distilling Company, 77 19th Street, Brooklyn
Breuckelen Distilling Company began crafting gin and whiskey in summer 2010. Dedicated to distilling by hand, Breuckelen produces all spirits from scratch using organic New York grains, and the entire production--from milling to bottling--takes places in one room in Sunset Park. Rosemary, lemon, ginger, and grapefruit accompany the gin-staple juniper berries in the distillery's Glorious Gin. Brueckelen also produce two whiskeys, one from wheat and another from rye and corn, both aged in American oak. The distillery is closed for tours until September, but check back in the fall to see when the doors are open.