An unassuming facade in Williamsburg could contain just another flea market or furniture warehouse. However, just beyond the front door you will find...
A cozy cocktail den featuring NY Distilling's products, the bar also offers a range of cocktails and beers that have been carefully curated with an emphasis on craft distilleries.
Oh Hello, Stills
Once you make your way to the bar, it becomes obvious that there's more than just mixing going on. The entire production facility of NY Distilling Co. is housed next door to the Shanty, and prime seats offer a window into that spirited world.
Three Partners, One Vision
NY Distilling Co. is run by three partners—Tom Potter, co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery, Allen Katz, leading expert on distilling and cocktails with credits from a cocktail show on Martha Stewart's satellite radio station to a Slow Food chairmanship, and our guide Bill Potter (pictured), production manager. Yes—those two Potters are related: they're father and son working together toward a shared dream.
Whole Lotta Still
A unique combination pot and column still, custom made for NY Distilling Co. by CARL in Stuttgart, Germany. With unique features such as fine control over the column plates and the ability to bypass the column entirely if desired, it is a powerfully versatile tool able to distill a wide range of spirits—the Swiss Army knife of stills.
When we arrived, Bill had just finished distilling a batch of their Dorothy Parker gin, and the still was giving off an incredible bouquet of juniper, hibiscus, elderberries, and more.
This is what's left after the alcohol had been distilled out of the gin—a kind of mush of herbs and spices in solution. Think of the spent coffee grounds at the bottom of your French Press, multiplied by gin. They should think about capturing this stuff as a cologne (hint, hint).
The Assembly Line
All of the production is done by hand, from distilling and steeping right down to the bottling and packing.
NY Distilling Co.'s flagship products are two remarkable gins—the Perry's Tot and the Dorothy Parker. Named for famed New Yorkers of eras past, the spirits themselves are likewise singular.
Perry's Tot is a Navy strength (read: 114 proof!) traditional British gin. It's juniper forward, salty, and surprisingly smooth for its strength, though it is bracing enough to keep a sailor warm the world over. Wonderful stuff.
Dorothy Parker, on the other hand, is a contemporary gin in the new American style. Softer and more fragrant, it contains elderberries, hibiscus, and cinnamon which lend it a very floral and delicate nose. At 88 proof, it's also easily sipped if that's your preferred gin delivery system.
Naturally, these gins are strongly featured in the drinks menu at The Shanty, and we sampled a few. Pictured here are the Sauvetage (left) and the 700 Songs Gimlet. The Gimlet is made with fresh lime juice, a house-made cinnamon simple syrup, Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub, and Perry's Tot gin. Together, they yield a refreshingly delicious sweet, sour, and spicy drink.
Our favorite cocktail of the evening, The Sauvetage, is made with Dorothy Parker Gin, Bittermens Amère Sauvage, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, fresh grapefruit juice, and an orange twist. Wonderfully complex, it develops over the course of a sip from the bitterness of the Amère Sauvage to hidden sweetness in the gin and grapefruit. It's the Negroni's mysterious and sexy cousin.
The Shanty bar has unexpectedly taken on a life of its own, but NY Distilling Co. won't let that get in the way of its spirited plans. They're working on a rye whiskey made from locally grown winter rye—barrels are currently aging and more spirit is continually in production. We can't wait to try it!