Brooklyn Distilleries Make Post-Prohibition Return
From Colonial times until Prohibition, Brooklyn was home to numerous distilleries. Now the spirits are flowing again as the industry makes a comeback in the borough. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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Gin made from scratch fills the bottles at a distillery in Sunset Park. It's called Breuckelen Gin -- the original Dutch name for the place we call Brooklyn.
"We thought if we choose the old spelling that it harks back to the days where people are really making things the way we're trying to make the gin here now," said Breuckelen Distilling Co. Founder Brad Estabrooke.
Estabrooke started the company in July after leaving his job as a bond trader. He uses organic grain from upstate which is then milled, mashed, fermented, distilled and flavored in Brooklyn.
"We use juniper, rosemary, lemon, grapefruit and ginger to flavor the gin to give it the different characteristics," Estabrooke said.
Breuckelen Gin goes for $38 a bottle. And it's not the only place making hard liquor in Brooklyn. Over in Bushwick, there's Kings County Distillery. It was the first to open and sells its products for $20 to $40 a bottle. Two different kinds of whiskey are produced at the distillery -- an unaged corn whiskey the company calls moonshine, and bourbon, which it rolled out just two weeks ago. Co-founder Colin Spoelman says he got the distillery license in April, after two years of planning with his business partner.
"We thought about trying to start a distillery and then when we realized there wasn't one in New York yet, we got really excited because then we thought as it would be, turns out we're the first distillery in the city since Prohibition which is kind of a big deal. And that's kind of cool," Spoelman said.
More distilleries are already in the works, including the New York Distilling Company in Williamsburg. Its president, Tom Potter, co-founded Brooklyn Brewery.
"When I started Brooklyn Brewery it was sort of a hoped for idea," Potter said. "We weren't sure if people would respond to having local beer but they did. Now 20 plus years later, I'm very confident that New York City will respond to having its own distilleries."
Potter says he'll be making three kinds of gin and rye whiskey.
New York Distilling Company hopes to open for business on the corner of Leonard and Richardson streets in April.