2. It’s All About Roots at Uncle Waithley’s Vincy Brew 

Mixologist and restaurateur, Karl Franz Williams 
Mixologist and restaurateur, Karl Franz Williams 

Made with fresh, all-natural ingredients that are carefully balanced by renowned mixologist Karl Franz Williams, Uncle Waithley’s Vincy Brew is a small-batch, non-alcoholic carbonated ginger beer that is a marvel of complex flavors and spices. Ginger is a magnificent root that not only makes food and drinks taste better, but it has some 400 natural compounds, many of which are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative. Long treasured in the Caribbean and on the island of St. Vincent, where the Williams family is from, ginger is crucial to many products, but especially to non-alcoholic beer. Williams ferments a Peruvian organic ginger that he mixes with turmeric, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and natural salts.

Uncle Waithley, himself a ginger farmer, lived to be 100 years old in part, says Williams, his grandson, because he ate and drank carefully. “Uncle Waithley was my inspiration. He was passionate about health and kind to everyone. He taught me to be aware of details, including ingredients.” From this came the brilliant idea to infuse his Vincy Brew with Scotch Bonnet, a variety of chili pepper that is native to West Africa and ubiquitous in the Caribbean. It has a heat rating similar to habanero’s and gives an unparalleled kick to the beer, which is invaluable to today’s mocktails as well as traditional cocktails.

Williams launched Uncle Waithley’s at Whole Foods Market in Harlem in January 2023, and has since expanded to most New York City locations. It’s also on Amazon and Boisson, and served at some 40 bars, including 67 Orange Street, owned by Williams

At 2082 Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, 67 Orange Street is worth a trip. The New York Times called it “a tiny, hipsterish joint with very serious bartenders creating $13 cocktails with names like Cleopatra’s Lust and Manhattan After Dark.” Prices have gone up since then, but it’s as hip as ever.