Things We Like: Small batch booze

By Woven Society Team


In an interesting article entitled "The Twee Party", New York magazine asked the question, "Is artisanal Brooklyn a step forward for food or a sign of the apocalypse?" Out of context, we have to agree that the artisanal food scene can sound…well, twee: restaurants sell “housemade” soda and cook with herbs from their roof garden; small batch jams use only local fruit and beer; cocoa beans sail in on a 7,000 foot schooner powered by wind. Seriously, it almost begs for a Mr. Show (R.I.P.) skit

But from an unmyopic point of view, this – the rejection of “the industrial status quo" and striving "to make fresher, healthier, better-tasting food, to take entrepreneurial risks and seek meaning in one’s work”, to quote the article - is really changing the way we eat and drink in America, for the good. And we definitely don't see homegrown pickles and their buddies beef jerky, cupcakes, and popcicles riding in as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. 

Scalability and the true artisanal goods customer can be circular debates (addressed in the New York mag article) that would have us pounding out a 5,000-word treatise right now, so let’s just get to the booze, which has also taken an interesting artisanal turn. Artful companies and distilleries are turning out small batch spirits that are starting to hit big, reshaping the liquored-up landscape dominated by the Diageos and Pernod-Ricards. Here are some of our favorites.

(image via Philly Homegrown via Art in the Age)
It may sound like an art-major’s senior thesis, but the collective Art in the Age is turning out neutral spirits like Root, Snap, and Rhuby that are flavored with herbs, botanicals, and blackstrap molasses. Forget those cloying vanilla, strawberry, and orange spirits that made you swear your first drinking experience would be your last. For a perfect summer cocktail, try the Rhuby Tonic

Industry City Distillery (Brooklyn, New York):
Building a distillery from the ground up in an old Brooklyn factory, just so they can make un-traditional sugar beet vodka - it's a fascinating venture from The City Foundry, a research and design group “focused on improving small-scale manufacturing processes through the blending of science and art.” They even break down the distilling process on their site. Oh, the booze? Crisp, clean, neutral vodka with zero “rubbing alcohol” kick. Use it at your next barbecue for Lemon-Vodka Cream Pops.

Kings County Distillery (Brooklyn, New York):
Kings County Distillery is actually New York City’s oldest operating whisky distillery. Their bourbon and moonshine (yes, you heard us right – the spirit of the South makes a comeback. Maybe we should let our dad’s best friend know he can start bottling his now?) are housed in glass flasks with simple labels, letting you know exactly what you’re getting. Their newest release, chocolate “flavored” whisky, was created with Mast Brother’s Chocolate Factory husks. Sip it neat, or with Barenjager honey liquor.

(image via Uncrate)

Death’s Door (Washington Island, Wisconsin): 
Comparatively speaking, the vodka, gin, and white whisky-makers have fairly wide distribution (and a brand-new state of the art distillery in Middleton, Wisconsin), but they got their start as an experiment to see if agriculture could be restored, promoted, and conserved on Washington Island, Wisconsin. 1% of their annual revenue is donated to Great Lakes causes. If you’re a gin drinker, try their Corpse Reviver

Posted April 26, 2012 // artisanal, booze, cocktails, moonshine, small batch, vodka, whisky