Manhattan is home to some of the world’s best dining and bars, but Brooklyn offers truly unique options for drinks. In this less-explored borough you can find artisanal wineries, breweries and distilleries that not only serve libations, they make them. The quality and variety of wines, brews and cocktails make Brooklyn a great destination for drinks.
To help you plan a boozy Brooklyn itinerary, here are some suggestions…
Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Oenology (BOE) was opened in 2006 by Alie Shaper, bringing wine knowledge to the public in an accessible and eclectic space. While it’s not uncommon to see staff showing off their tattoos and dressing in a relaxed fashion, they certainly know their reds, whites and roses. Here all grapes are sourced from New York — mainly Long Island and the Finger Lakes — with winemakers sometimes getting creative (they serve a selection of orange wines, as well as wines on tap). They also offer a wide selection of New York-made spirits including whiskey, bourbon, moonshine, gin, vodka, vermouth…even absinthe. Brooklyn-sourced art is showcased around the intimate space, and all BOE wines featuring peel-off artwork labels. While you sip and enjoy the view, nibble on local cheeses and charcuterie.
Brooklyn Winery, also in Williamsburg, is another must-visit spot for oenophiles. They make their wines in-house with grapes sourced from all over the country — mainly New York and California — and offer some very unique wines. Along with wines on tap, it can be fun to make your own Chardonnay or Riesling flight, as they use the grapes for a variety of styles: a stainless-steel aged wine, a barrel fermented wine and an orange wine. The rustic, country-inspired space is also a great place to savor shared plates with friends, like fried buttermilk chicken bites, braised pork belly, seared scallops and charcuterie. If you’re craving something sweet, opt for a chocolate truffle and fortified zinfandel pairing. Enjoy a more interactive experience by taking a winery tour or class like an “Interactive Tasting Class,” “Wine and Cheese Pairing with Stinky Bklyn,” “Wine Mysteries and Myths” and “Blind Tasting.” Check their busy events calendar.
The Red Hook Winery on Red Hook’s waterfront was started in 2008 by native Brooklynite Mark Snyder and two Napa winemakers, Abe Schoener and Robert Foley. Grapes are sourced from around New York, allowing visitors a true taste of the region. Along with making great wine — each winemaker imparts their own unique style for lots of variety — Red Hook Winery is quite budget friendly, offering three tastings for $5, six reserve tastings for $12, a tour and tasting of five wines for $15, and a barrel tasting and private tour for $25. Their tasting room is open daily from 11am to 5pm.
You can’t travel anywhere in the world without seeing the Brooklyn Brewery logo. Located in Williamsburg, the brew renowned is in New York and far beyond…and once you visit it’s easy to see why. First is the beer, packed with flavor and made in small batches. To buy your beer you’ll purchase beer tokens — $5 each or 5 for $20 — with some top options being the “Brooklyn Blast!” made with a mix of earthy English and citrusy American hops; the seasonal “Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale” with warm pumpkin aromas and flavors; and their full flavored yet refined “Brooklyn Brown Ale.” Another draw is the atmosphere – an enormous warehouse space of communal tables that make it easy to socialize and make new friends. Brewery tastings and tours are available (free on weekends), and there are lots of great food, music and performance events.
Cacao Prieto in Red Hook is another must-do Brooklyn booze experience, combining small batch liquors and chocolate. While a chocolate rum and cacao liqueur are made using organic sugar and cacao from their small farm in the Dominican Republic — allowing imbibers to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate while they drink — their bourbon infuses mineral water sourced from upstate New York. They also make their own organic chocolate bars, nut spreads, jams, preserves and chocolates in decadent flavors like “Spiced Rum,” “Cashew & Cranberry,” “Almond & Praline” and “Hazelnut & Raisin.” Tours are available for $10 per person and can be scheduled by emailing [email protected].
Just looking to relax and sip a cocktail? Brooklyn is full of craft cocktail offerings.
Lovers of spicy cocktail should try a “La Sonambula” with jalapeño-infused tequila, lemon juice, chamomile tea syrup, Peychaud’s bitters and mole bitters from Cobble Hill’s Clover Club.
- Those who want an energy boost should head to Blueprint in Park Slope to try “The Kickstarter,” made with rum, espresso, turbinado, coffee bitters and a lemon twist.
- If you enjoy farm-fresh flavors, head to Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg and sample their “El Jardin” featuring Pisco Porton, Peninsula Palo Cortado Sherry, raspberry rhubarb syrup, rhubarb bitters, lemon juice and egg white.
- For craft cocktails in a speakeasy ambiance, The Narrows in Bushwick is without signage, has no website (only an Instagram account) and features hidden rooms that can’t see from the outside.
This is a guest post by Jessica Festa, a native New Yorker, NYC tour guide and writer. Jessica is Author and Editor of websites Jessie On a Journey and Epicure & Culture, and a contributor to many publications including Huffington Post, Sherman’s Travel, Gadling, and AOL Travel.
What are your favorite spots for drinks or cocktails in NYC? Tell us in the comments below.