Fun, distilled: Your guide to taking a boozy tour of the Brooklyn Spirits Trail

Bridget of Owney's Rum, talking rum

Bridget of Owney’s Rum, in Williamsburg, talking rum. Photo by Fikriyyah George

There’s a self-guided booze tour called the Brooklyn Spirits Trail boasting some impressive liquor makers. Too bad when we say self-guided it’s basically “Here’s a map with the locations, figure it out yourself.” No times, duration or clue as to what the tour consists of. Well, we decided to make life a little easier by letting you know when you can visit and just what you get.

The greatest part about this self-guided tour is that you can mix it up however you want (hit up all the free ones, the ones in Red Hook, by type of spirit, etc.). The way the tours are scheduled you can draw it out visiting a distillery every weekend or go hardcore and visit two a day. Sorry, leave your flagon at home: no matter where you go by law they’re not able to pour more than 1oz of liquor for imbibing without a liquor license. As for me? I’ve never been happier to be a lightweight.

Red Hook Winery
175 – 204 Van Dyke Street (325A on the Pier)
Red Hook

Spirit: Wine (duh). Every kind of red and white wine you can imagine. Seriously, they make over 70 varieties.

Cost: Tour is free with tasting at 1pm on Saturday and Sunday only. $8 to taste three wines, $15 for a taste of 6 wines out a selection of 12 wines on the tasting menu.

When: Weekends starting at 1pm, with tastings from 11am -5pm on the weekdays. While the tastings are readily available, just sidle up to the counter, there was an unspecified wait time for the tour.

Duration: 15 minutes tops

What you get: A walk-through of the facilities. The really big draw here is the tasting, which changes on a weekly basis so go a second time you’re bound to experience something different.

Plus: Ask your tour guide about the opportunity to crush grapes.

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caco prieto

Vince, from Cacao Prieto, pouring the stuff we all love (booze). Photo by Karen Yau Østensjø

Cacao Prieto
218 Conover Street
Red Hook

Spirit: Rum, whiskey, chocolate and chocolate liqueur.

Price: $15

When: Saturdays, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm

Duration: 45 minutes to an hour

What you get: Your tour guide (consider yourself lucky if it’s Vince) will take you on the ground floor, the basement, and through the yard of chickens on this thorough walk-through.

Plus: Cacao Prieto is one of the bigger facilities on the Brooklyn Spirits Trail. They make chocolate in addition to the stuff that gives you hangovers the day after so you get chocolate samples as well. Booze and chocolate? You can feel like Johnny Depp from both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  at the same damn time.

Greenhook Ginsmith
208 Dupont Street
Greenpoint

Spirit: gin

Price: $20

When: Saturday at 1pm and 2:30pm

Duration: Up to an hour

What you get: This stop on your self-guided tour in locally made spirits is the only gin maker of the bunch. You’ll learn how their three styles of gin are produced, including their distinctive beach plum flavor, a variation on the traditional sloe gin.

Plus: After the tour you can taste all three gins. You can book online!

Jack from Brooklyn
177 Dwight Street
Red Hook

Spirit: Sorel Liqueur, a Caribbean drink made from the plant of the same name.

Price: Free

When: Saturdays 1pm-4pm, email to schedule an appointment during these times.

Duration: 10-15 minutes

What you get: A walk through of the facilities and a taste of the final product. This isn’t a structured tour this is a conversation between spirit maker and spirit drinker. Be curious, ask questions.

Plus: Read about how Jack from Brooklyn got started.

Kings County Distillery
Sands and Navy Street, Brooklyn Navy Yard
Vinegar Hill

Spirit: Whiskey, moonshine

Price: $8

When: Tuesday through Friday at 3pm and 5pm, Saturday every half hour from 1pm to 4pm. Tickets can be bought on Eventbrite.

Duration: One and half hours

What you get: In addition to showing the distillery they pepper the tour with the history of Prohibition in New York.

Plus: With the purchase of the tour you get a discount on any spirit sold at the Boozeum, and (booze-free) apple cider as the tour takes you outside and inside the chilly facilities during the colder months.

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ny distilling company

Enjoy a barrell of liquor or two at NY Distilling. Photo by Fikriyyah George

NY Distilling Company
99 Richardson Street
Williamsburg

Spirit: Gin and rye whiskey

Price: Free

When: Weekends, 3pm-5pm, No need to confirm, just show up!

Duration: No more than 15 minutes

What you get: A rundown of operations. And the lovely bartenders will let you try their three kinds of gin for free.

Plus: There’s live music. When I went with a friend there was old-timey banjo music.

Owney’s Rum
23 Meadow Street
Williamsburg

Spirit: Rum

Price $10

When: Saturdays at 2pm and 5pm

Duration: One hour

What you get: There’s a self-guided and guided version of the tour. The guided version consists of owner Bridget giving a detailed and sometimes funny explanation as to how not only her own rum is made, but also how to make whiskey and bourbon.

Plus: One of the few tours you can buy tickets online. Huzzah!

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van brunt stillhouse

All the goodies made at Van Brunt Stillhouse. Photo by Fikriyyah George

Van Brunt Stillhouse 
6 Bay Street 1st Floor
Red Hook

Spirit: Grappa, rum, whiskey and moonshine

Price: $10

When: Fridays at 6:30pm, Saturdays every hour 3-6pm, Sundays at 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, and the occasional Thursday. Full schedule here.

Duration: 45 minutes and up

What you get: A small and personal operation.

Plus:. You might snag a one-on-one with the owner Daric, a former video editor for The Daily Show.

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industry city distillery

The kind of mad science it takes to make beet vodka. Photo by Fikriyyah George

Industry City Distillery
33 35th Street
Sunset Park

Spirit: Beet sugar vodka

Price: $10 for the regular tour

When: Regular tour of the facilities and tasting happen on Saturdays at 2pm.

Duration: Up to an hour.

What you get: A rundown on how these mad scientists/distillers use beets to make vodka and a tasting.

Plus: Where they’re based is not called Industry City for nothing. Call them when you arrive so you can take the freight elevator. If you don’t you’re walking up six flights. Either way once you’re there they have an awesome view of the water and Lower Manhattan (and Jersey) that’ll make you want to become a squatter.

Note: As of press time, Sixpoint and Breucklen Distilling dont currently offer tours of their facilities

This post originally ran in 2013 and has been updated for May 2016