Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

Village Voice's HOLIDAY SPIRITS

It seems like the holidays come earlier every year. This year I noticed decorations and Christmas cheer starting in September. The Bryant Park Holiday Market even opened two weeks before Halloween!!

In my mind, you shouldn’t start preparing or singing carols until the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has ended. I know most retailers will disagree with me, but that’s not what the holiday spirit is about.

Another good indicator is that Village Voice has now thrown their newly annual Holiday Spirits event. Just like Choice Eats and Brooklyn Pour, this event celebrates the best of local food and drink purveyors. Here the focus is on warming spirits, wines, and cocktails.

It also happened to be set aboard the sleek Hornblower Infinity cruise ship. Even before the ship docked for a cruise around New York harbor (I drunkenly deboarded before it set sail), it was a unique and exciting New York locale.

Onboard I discovered many sips and cocktails from local distilleries both old and new. I was taken by Owney’s Rum’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” cocktail, which featured their Brooklyn-produced spirit along with banana, fernet menta, and mint. Also impressive was upstate’s Dutch’s Spirit’s moonshine based cocktail served warm with apple cider, cinnamon liqueur, and a dash of their colonial bitters. And I loved sipping on Atsby’s dry and sweet vermouths.

This was also the first place I tried oaked gin (although I guess it is not a new thing at all). I’m not used to gin being brown, but when it’s aged in American Oak Barrels it gives it both a dark color and a rich, complex smokiness that plays off the minerality of gin’s juniper berries. I tried both Breuckelen Distilling and Greenhook Ginsmiths version. Both very interesting, but I especially liked Greensmith’s Beach Plum version (which is not oaked, but blended with beach plum juice).

Jack From Brooklyn's SOREL

But the winner of the night is the one spirit that I’m happy to use to usher in the holiday season. Jack from Brooklyn was the only distiller there (and probably the only distiller in the country) making sorel liquer. The hibiscus-based spirit is very popular in the Caribbean, but rare to find outside. For the last few years, Jackie Summers has been making it in Red Hook.

Hot Sorel at Village Voice's HOLIDAY SPIRITS

Here, they were just warming up their spiced liqueur. It had a touch of sweetness, but was mostly warming and spicy with hints of clove, ginger, and cinnamon. This is an excellent, unique spirit that could work over ice in a refreshing cocktail or hot for the holidays.

Village Voice helped me officially welcome in the season. I’m relieved they didn’t host this event in August. Now, it’s finally appropriate to say Happy Holidays!!

JACK FROM BROOKLYN
177 Dwight Street (between Van Dyke Street and Coffey Street),
Red Hook, Brooklyn
(718) 522-3172
jackfrombrooklyn.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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