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Edible: Brooklyn Distillery Stirs Up Interest In Local Spirits

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One of the city's first distilleries is raising spirits in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Rachel Wharton of Edible Manhattan magazine filed the following report.

The New York Distilling Company in Williamsburg opened last December. Launched by three Brooklynites with backgrounds in the beverage industry, it's one of a handful of places now producing truly local liquors for the very first time.

"We're one of the first of what's become a wonderful burgeoning cottage industry in Brooklyn, and in New York City -- that of distilling spirits, or high proof alcohol," says New York Distilling Company Co-owner Allen Katz.


The heart of the operation is a shiny copper still made by a German company called Carl, which is where all of New York Distilling's spirits are produced. After just 10 weeks, New York Distilling is still working on its rye whiskey, which is made from upstate grains and must age for months in new oak barrels. But their two gins are already being bottled and sold.

"Right now in the New York marketplace you can find both of our gins. Perry's Tot Navy Strength gin, which we're really excited about. It's the only Navy strength gin produced and available not just in New York but in the entire country. And for those that might not be familiar, 'Navy strength' is an historic proof that's at 57 percent alcohol, so it's a higher than normal proof than people have been accustomed to. But it is marvelous in mixed drinks. Everything as simple as a gin and tonic to a Martini to a gimlet and more complex mixed cocktails. Our other is a little bit more whimsical, and it's called Dorothy Parker American gin, after the famed New York writer who we're all big fans of," says Katz.

You can taste both of those and get a peek at the still from the bar Allen Katz and his colleagues run right next door to their operation. They christened it the Shanty, in honor of the massive warehouse space the trio spent a year fixing up.

"It's called the Shanty because we're housed in a magnificent 5,000 square foot shed in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and we could think of no better name to describe our home here from a distilling standpoint and a bar standpoint," says Katz.

To try New York Distillery's gins in Manhattan, check out our Good Spirits tasting event in SoHo on February 28.

Published every other month, Edible Manhattan magazine celebrates Gotham's food culture season by season. To learn more, go to ediblemanhattan.com, follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.

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