Drink Up Brooklyn: Spirits of the Borough

While Brooklyn is known for the hipster side of do-it-yourself artisanal foodstuffs, the small-batch sprits coming out of the borough go beyond cool—and are actually pretty awesome. “Brooklyn spirits are all made in small batches as opposed to most liquor which is produced in mass quantities,” said Brooklyn Shaken and Stirred organizer Sharon Beason. “This lets Brooklyn producers be creative and experiment more while honoring the traditions of making handcrafted spirits.”

Go celebrate local drinking tonight at the event Brooklyn Shaken and Stirred in the Green Building in Carroll Gardens. From 6 to 9pm, $45 gets you drinks made with Brooklyn Gin, Greenhook Ginsmiths, Brooklyn Republic Vodka, White Pike Whiskey, and El Buho Mezcal, which is actually made in Mexico, but imported through Henry Steele Imports in Brooklyn. The drink masters include bartenders from Fort Defiance, Maison Premiere, Pok Pok, and Sycamore. They will also offer up wine from Brooklyn Oenology and Brooklyn Winery, plus beer by Sixpoint Brewery.

But you can’t drink on an empty stomach. While you sip cocktails you can nibble on food by Brooklyn-based restaurants including Allswell, Dressler, and Van Horn Sandwich Shop, to name a few.

“I believe Brooklyn as a whole has taken off, from the arts and culture scene, to restaurants and bars that have placed us on the international culinary map, to the artisanal goods that line the corners of Smorgasburg every week,” said Beason. “Brooklyn is so community-focused and its residents so proud of all things Brooklyn that many only buy and use these products and they tell everyone they know about them.”

So do it, go get your Brooklyn on.

Tour de Brooklyn: A Borough Grub Crawl

Last weekend Bon Appetit magazine teamed up with Belvedere Vodka and Chase Sapphire to take a tour of the ever-expanding Brooklyn Food scene. Focusing on three key neighborhoods, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, and Red Hook, the tours worked to really highlight some of the areas’ best food options, while making it walker-friendly.

I was lucky enough to join Friday’s Cobble Hill grub crawl and started out at Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli’s Italian inspired restaurant Frankies 457 Spuntino. The joint was packed inside, but luckily we ducked out into the garden to sip a berry-ripe lambrusco and nibble on seasonal crostini. The way the tour worked was that they had four groups of people intermittently going to one of the four spots where we stayed for about 45 minutes. Frankies proved a good place to start, but our next stop felt a little awkward.

Dessert before dinner, anyone? Not that I am actually complaining. Given our tour took us to Kim Ima’s brick-and-mortar location of Treats Truck and to a pile of luscious peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies, it was a win-win situation. We followed that up with Clover Club and had a lovely punch by cocktail goddess Julie Reiner, who was actually there explaining her drink, giving us a recipe, and then pouring up their house drink comprised of raspberries and Dorothy Parker gin. We ended the night at Seersucker and sampled chef Robert Newton’s sinful fried chicken, fluffy biscuits, pimento cheese, and the Thirsty Owl Riesling that they have on tap. All together, the tour did highlight some of the hottest spots in the neighborhood right now.

On Saturday they covered Williamsburg and smartly chose Rye for cocktails, Maison Premiere for oysters, and Brooklyn Winery for a tour and wine tasting. The other two places I was less impressed with and would have skipped, one of which was Allswell because, frankly, it’s not anything special. Same for the jaunt to the Meatball Shop; while it’s delicious, there’s nothing Brooklyn about it given its two other locations in Manhattan. Sunday’s food crawl took place in Red Hook and did the neighborhood well by hitting up Stumptown Coffee Roasters, trying St. John Frizell’s southern-style Fort Defiance, eating Korean breakfast at The Good Fork, filling up on smoked meat at Mile End, and dancing at the historical bar Sunny’s.

Overall, the folks behind the tour did well to give a broad sampling of the neighborhoods that you can easily walk around in. The only other location I would have included is Prospect Heights where you can easily indulge in seasonal nibbles from The Vanderbilt, cocktails at Weather Up, ramen at Chuko, and oysters at Cornelius—but I guess that’s a good excuse to do that one on my own. 

Morning Drinks: It’s Always Five O’Clock Somewhere

Another day, another lesson from the prosts working my local all-hours bar: vomiting on the practical pumps of morning commuters rushing for the train, now totally acceptable. The stigma of ante meridiem boozing, like panties in public, is a thing of the past — even the New York Times says so. In turn, early bird tipplers like Cobble Hill’s Clover Club and East Village tequila den Mayahuel are teaching brunchers that ordering a mimosa is akin to coming out as Tiger Woods’ fourth mistress. Tacky, yo. Because in the past Ed Hardy did not exist, mixologists are naturally looking back to the 19th century for inspiration. “You always read about these ‘eye-openers,’ ‘fog-cutters,’ ‘phlegm-cutters,’ ‘morning glories,’” Fort Defiance owner St. John Frizell tells the Times. “They were arguably more popular than cocktails at night.”

Also, water gave people the plague, so gin was a safer bet. In New Orleans, America’s least prudish city, daylight drinking never lost its luster. The Times posits that sunrise libations must be either nutritional or effervescent, and the Big Easy has classic ‘tails to fulfill both stipulations. Bourbon Milk Punch, available at Fort Defiance, has a fourth of an egg white and is therefore good for you, while the Ramos Gin Fizz is bubbling with citrus. Either promises to morph morning drudgeries like wrestling with pregnant women for subway seats into hilarious performance art.

Bourbon Milk Punch 2 oz bourbon 2 oz whole milk 1 oz heavy cream 1/2 oz vanilla extract 1/2 oz simple syrup 1/4 of 1 egg white

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until frothy. Strain into a frosted rocks glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Ramos Gin Fizz 1 1/4 oz dry gin 3 oz whole milk 1/4 of l egg white 1 tbs powdered sugar 3 dashes orange flower water 3 dashes lemon juice 2 dashes lime juice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until frothy. Strain into a highball glass.