Distilling in New York City has been going on since Europeans first arrived in the 1700s and after a big roadblock has finally continued to grow from there. In fact, the first distillery in the US was in Staten Island. However, on October 28th 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act or “The National Prohibition Act.” This law effectively made it illegal to produce, transport, buy or sell alcohol in the United States. This obviously put a chilling effect on the distilling of quality liquors all across the country. There was scarcely a trace of a distilling community in NYC until circa 2010, when a new boom in urban living sparked the start of a distillery revolution in North and Central Brooklyn.
Here are a few distilleries to check out in everyone’s favorite boroughs. Cheers!
8. Kings County Distillery
3D Model created by the Real Virtual Zone
We’ll start off at Kings County Distillery which is the oldest operating whiskey distillery in Brooklyn even though it was only founded in 2010. Kings County Distillery is also the first whiskey distillery founded in New York City since Prohibition ended in 1933. Kings County operates out of the Paymaster Building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The distillery’s products include Moonshine, Bourbon, and Chocolate Whiskies to wet your palette. Tours run Tuesday through Friday from 3pm to 5pm, with weekend tours every half hour on Saturday from 1-4pm. Be sure to check out their Guide to Urban Moonshining to expand your whiskey knowledge.
7. New York Distilling Company
The New York Distilling Company ceremoniously opened on the anniversary of the repeal of The National Prohibition Act on December 5th, 2011 in Williamsburg. Though they’re primarily a gin distillery (as gin takes less time to distill than other kinds of spirits), they also have rye options.
Spirits like the Dorothy Parker American Gin, Perry’s Tot Naval Strength Gin are named for influencers of New York City history.
Tom Potter of the The New York Distilling Company is the co-founder of the Brooklyn Brewery and co-author of Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery. Be sure to visit The Shanty, their full service bar serves their spirits amongst others.
6. Greenhook Ginsmiths
The Greenhook Ginsmiths in Greenpoint released their American Dry Gin in February of 2012. They craft their gin in a unique custom-made Copper Pott Still.Their gin’s include Dry (made from organic New York State wheat), Beach Plum (made from soaked Long Island beach plums) and Old Tom Gin (using flavors inspired by the 18th century spice trades).
Even more interesting is that the Greenhook Ginsmiths founder, Steven DeAngelo, is completely self-taught in the art of crafting gin. “All the best distilling techniques were developed in the 18 & 1900’s. Can’t really apprentice with those guys, you know?” he told Untapped Cities in May.
Tours of the Greenhook Ginsmiths are every Saturday, with one at 1pm and one at 2:30pm.
5. Cacao Prieto
On Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6pm, Cacao Prieto hosts walk-in tours of their facilities. The hour long tour includes a history of Dominican cacao, their “bean to bar” process, and their machinery. The best part is that tasting flights are included.
4. Van Brunt Stillhouse
Their whiskeys include a malt, bourbon, and rye. Their Due North Rum is named for the historical term used by sailors to reference when the rum they drank was pure. Speaking of pure, their grappa is made with locally sourced grape skins, and their moonshine works to restart the proud tradition of the New York that produced more moonshine then the entire south in the 19th century.
Tours of the facilities take place (with reservations) Thursdays and Fridays from 4-9pm, Saturdays from 2-9pm, and Sundays from 2-6pm.
3. The Noble Experiment
The Noble Experiment also has an onsite bar, The Daquiri Shaq, aka “The Daq Shaq.” If you show up to the Daq Shaq’s opening hours, you can participate in a free self-guided, read-along tour of the facility with the purchase of a drink. Guided tours are Saturdays at 2pm and 5pm and include a free tasting! Bottom’s up!
2. Industry City Distillery
Industry City Distillery is, as expected, located in Industry City in Sunset Park. They distill Industry Standard Vodka made from beet sugar and is the only vodka currently distilled within the confines of New York City.
Stop into the tasting room bar open Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to 10pm and check out their top floor views of the Manhattan Skyline. Their behind the scenes tour and tasting bar goes on every Saturday at 3pm.
1. Tuthilltown Spirits
For a weekend trip, visit the distillery that became the first whiskey distillery in New York State when it opened in 2005. Their vodka is made from locally sourced apples and grain from the Hudson Valley. The distillery also has the distinction of being the 2015 Apple Vodka Distillery of the Year at the New York International Spirits Competition.