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Brooklyn Tastemakers Map Trail of Craft Beer and Spirits

By Alan Neuhauser | September 13, 2012 8:57pm

RED HOOK — Brooklyn has a proud history of brewing, and the craft is making a comeback in a major way, with breweries and distilleries dotting the borough.

In fact, seven are within walking distance in Red Hook and Sunset Park, and three others are a short hop away in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

To highlight this enterprising spirit, Cacao Prieto, a rum and dessert maker on Conover Street, helped develop the Brooklyn Spirits Trail, which winds past rum, rye, whiskey, gin, sorel and beer-makers and offers participants delectable samples of food and drink.

"Wear comfortable shoes," said Jackie Summers, 44, who owns Jack from Brooklyn distillery. "Plan on having terrific food and sampling some really unique liquors and seeing how things are done."

The self-guided tour kicks off at Red Hook Winery. Maps can be found at the distilleries and breweries and Dry Dock Wine and Spirits in Red Hook.

10 stops, 12.4 miles

Cacao Prieto
218 Conover St. in Red Hook
Tours/Tastings: Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., appointments preferred, but not required
Cost: Free
Contact: 347-225-0130, cacaoprieto.com
Must Try: Don Rafael Cacao Rum, $48 per bottle

Founded by an aerospace engineer in a Red Hook warehouse, Cacao Prieto imports cacao beans from the Dominican Republic to make 100-percent organic rums, liqueur, whiskey and even chocolate bars. The distillery hosts free tastings every day that include samples of each spirit plus the “Featured Chocolate of the Day.” Appointments are preferred but not required on weekdays; if the distillery’s doors are closed during operating hours, knock and someone should answer, a rep said.

Sixpoint Brewery
40 Van Dyke St. (0.3 miles from Cacao Prieto)
Tours/Tastings: Not open to the public
Contact: 917-696-0438, sixpoint.com
Must Try: Bengali Tiger, the IPA

Sixpoint, the spirit trail's only brewery, does not offer public tastings or tours, but stop by Rocky Sullivan’s bar next-door to sample some of the brewery's suds on tap, and munch on salads, pub grub, and weekend brunch.                                         

Jack from Brooklyn
177 Dwight St. in Red Hook (half a block from Sixpoint Brewery)
Tours/Tastings: Saturdays from 12 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free
Web: JackfromBrooklyn.com
Must Try: Sorel, $28 per bottle

Jack from Brooklyn makes Sorel, a dark, fragrant mix of Moroccan hibiscus, Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia, Nigerian ginger, Indonesia nutmeg, pure cane sugar and organic New York grain alcohol. “It's very much like an alcoholic potpourri,” founder Jack Summers said. “When we are distilling, people come from blocks around because they can smell all these wonderful herbs and spices.”

Van Brunt Stillhouse
6 Bay St. in Red Hook
Tours/Tastings: Not open to the public
Contact: info@vanbruntstillhouse.com
Must Try: Due North Rum, $25 per bottle

Van Brunt Stillhouse, owned by “Daily Show” editor and Red Hook resident Daric Schlesselman, began selling its Due North rum in April, and it plans to roll out a whiskey, rye and grappa in the coming months. The distillery, still just a two-man operation, is not yet open to the public, but Schlesselman plans to offer tours and tastings soon.

Breuckelen Distilling
77 19th St. in Sunset Park
Tours/Tastings: Saturdays at 2 p.m. starting Sept. 8
Cost: Free for the tour, $3 for the tasting
Contact: 347-725-4985, brkdistilling.com
Must Try: Glorious Gin, $36 per bottle

Breuckelen Distilling has crafted gin and whiskey from scratch since the summer of 2010, processing each ingredient by hand in its distillery in Sunset Park. All of the ingredients are grown locally and organically.

Industry City
33 35th St. in Sunset Park
Tours/Tastings: By appointment
Cost: Free
Contact: 917-727-5309
Must Try: No. 2 Vodka, $22 per bottle

Industry City makes sugarbeet-based vodka you won't find anywhere else. The distillery uses a fractional distillation process that lets it "really control for what flavors we're able to produce in our fermentation process," said Peter Simon, 24, head of operations and sales.

Kings County Distillery
The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Bldg. 121
Tours/Tastings: Saturdays from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $8
Contact: kingscountydistillery@gmail.com, kingscountydistillery.com
Must Try:  Moonshine, $20 per bottle

Kings County Distillery, New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, makes award-winning, hand-crafted moonshine and bourbon. The price for the tour and tasting also includes admission to its “Boozeum.”

New York Distilling Company
79 Richardson St. in Williamsburg
Tours/Tastings: Monday through Thursday at 5 and 7 p.m. The distillery’s cocktail bar opens at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Cost: Free
Contact: 718-412-0874, nydistilling.com/
Must Try: Dorothy Parker American Gin, $33 per bottle. For $3 more try the 114-proof Perry's Tot Navy Strength Gin

“The Shanty” at the New York Distilling Company is where to sample its critically-acclaimed American and 114-proof Navy Strength gins. The bar serves cocktails and craft beers in addition to the distillery’s own spirits, is open every night.

Red Hook Winery
204 Van Dyke St. in Red Hook
Tours/Tastings: Saturdays and Sundays, 12 to 4 p.m.
Cost: $5 to $15
Contact: 347-689-2432, redhookwinery.com
Must Try: Whole Cluster Press Cabernet Franc 2010, $24 per bottle

Red Hook Winery, which has been making wine from grapes grown on Long Island's North Fork since 2008, opened its doors for tastings and private events only recently. Located in the former Liberty Warehouse, New York City's closest point to the Statue of Liberty, the winery offers waterfront views and a wide selection of wines. Sample three winery-selected bottles for $5, "choose your own adventure" of six wines for $15, or pick something in between.

Greenhook Ginsmiths
208 Dupont St. in Greenpoint (1.5 miles from New York Distilling Company)
Tours/Tastings: Not open to the public.
Contact: 646-339-3719, greenhookgin.com
Must Try: American Dry, $33 per bottle.

Greenhook Ginsmiths crafts three vacuum-distilled gins, plus a handful of seasonal and limited-edition spirits. The distillery’s flagship, the American Dry, includes a mix of Tuscan juniper, organic elderflowers, organic chamomile and Celyon cinnamon. The Beach Plum Gin Liqueur combines the American Dry with local beach plums and organic Turbinado sugar to create a dark and unique spirit. The distillery is not open to the public, but its gins can be found in at least 12 liquor stores in New York City.

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