Dear curious reader,
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS URBAN DISTILLERIES OR ARE THEY URBAN LEGENDS?
To find out : let’s start right now with a new series focusing of URBAN DISTILLERIES, and let’s start with BROOKLYN.
Why Brooklyn ?
Because of the history ! You will tell me the first distillery to ever be officially registered in what will become the USA was in Staten Island in 1640 (a certain Mr Hirst).
I would say, yes, but Brooklyn has quickly after been the place where booze was made… and drank. A lot ! By the mid 19th century, it is estimated that 1,7 liter of hard alcohol were drunk per person per week (and not even counting women and kids)
One thousand to one is "roughly the ratio of the number of small-scale distilleries scattered across New York at the state’s 19th-century peak to the number that existed in New York less than 10 years ago” (1). Many producers, and often as a way to resist the Federal State. It lead to what has been named the “Whiskey War” starting in 1869 when the army was sent to Vinegar Hill to destroy stills of home distillers and moonshiners refusing to pay taxes (2), yes, you read me well : an army of 2.000 soldiers has been sent to a neighborhood for tax reason!.
And then you had prohibition. People drank even more, but most of the time bad stuff.
Then Prohibition stopped but the law was kind of restrictive. And obtaining a license was highly expensive (USD 16.000 a year).
And something changed :
"The State Liquor Authority in 2007, under Gov. Eliot Spitzer, introduced a USD128 farm license that allowed manufacturers who used at least 75 percent New York State grain to produce small quantities of alcohol and sell it directly to customers at distilleries” (3) . "The original idea was to promote state agriculture by letting farmers distill their grains: depending on the state of the commodity markets, a better proposition than selling them outright. But you don't have to be a farmer to set up a still. As long as the bulk of your ingredients come from in-state, craft liquor licenses are practically free. You don't even have to be located on a farm. You can set up shop in the heart of Brooklyn” (4), ... and many did !!!
I will not expend on the history as per today but will focus of where and what spirits are being produced as of today. Here is my on going list of spirits and liqueurs producers who work in Brooklyn, NY.
In red : find the posts which detail the spirit and the distillery tour report !
You know one that I forgot ? Tell me !
You want to know more about it ? check those links :
Great article if you want to do them all (hum, at least some of them) https://www.thrillist.com/drink/new-york/brooklyn/crawl-through-7-brooklyn-booze-factories
Great website that put together the perfect map you need to have http://www.brooklynbooze.com/brooklyn