79 Richardson St, Williamsburg
5 out of 5 L's
Tucked inside what looks like an old rickhouse on the Greenpoint-Williamsburg border is the latest addition to a growing list of craft distilleries operating in Kings County. New York Distilling Company differentiates itself from the rest with the addition of the Shanty, a full-service liquor bar with an enormous bay window through which lies the production floor of the distillery. And what a sight! The eight-plate column still looks like something imagined by Jules Verne, all copper and silver with six portal windows reminiscent of an upright submarine plunging into waters unknown.
For co-founders Allen Katz (formerly of Southern Wine and Spirits) and Tom Potter (Brooklyn Brewery), the adventure has just begun. Craft distilling with local ingredients may be the new black, but the greater ambition of the New York Distilling folks is to transcend locavore trends and offer the booze community a new product, outstanding in its own right, regardless of origin and pedigree. At the moment they are producing two types of gin. Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin is, at 57 percent ABV, remarkably smooth—dangerously so, really, with a touch of wildflower honey accenting the botanicals while bringing warmth and depth that might have more than a few tipplers considering drinking this all winter long. Dorothy Parker American Gin is a blend of botanicals new and old that, when mixed with lemon and hibiscus syrup, as in The Acerbic Mrs. Parker, creates a cocktail as refreshingly straightforward as the name suggests.
Should a shot and a beer be the order of the day, the Shanty sidesteps the PBR & Fernet combo with a can of Brooklyn Lager (the Brooklyn Brewery connection is evidenced in five beer offerings, including large format bottles of the Brooklyn Local #1 and #2) and a shot of pink gin pulled from a small still on the back bar. This pink gin is a special, particularly quaffable recipe from bartender Nate Dumas, the gentleman heading the Shanty’s bar program. In addition to the two house-made gins, the Shanty stocks a selection of the world’s finest spirits; some of the cities most educated, enthusiastic enablers man the bar.
Cocktails are easily enjoyed at this intersection of industry and community, as copper hues glitter throughout the dark barroom like pennies on a moonlit sidewalk. The still provides a commanding vista from any vantage point. Seating is flexible, with a mix of bar stools, communal tables and a low-lying lounge area with a bench against the picture window, making this drinking experience as intimate or convivial as you wish to make it.