A couple of weeks ago we decided to take a day trip to Red Hook, Brooklyn. We first heard about the area one night at a Valentine’s Day whiskey + chocolate pairing class at The Flatiron Room in NYC. The class was given by the Head Distiller of Widow Jane distillery, and saw us tasting 6 whiskeys from across the world whilst pairing each with different flavours of Cacao Prieto chocolate, an artisanal, organic bean-to-bar chocolate. Who would have thought that whiskey and chocolate could pair so well?
During the evening our teacher gave us a little more background about the Widow Jane whiskey that he distilled and told us how it was produced locally in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He also explained that Widow Jane is part of the Cacao Prieto Distillery (hence the pairing) and that they offer daily tours of both the chocolate and whiskey production facilities. So we decided to wait a couple of months until the weather warmed up and ventured out for a day trip to Red Hook.
What’s the best way to get to Red Hook from Manhattan? By water! Departing from Pier 11, the IKEA Express ferry is free on weekends and takes approximately 35 mins. The first stop on the route is IKEA, and the second (which we got off at) is Red Hook Dock at Van Brunt Street.
We jumped off the ferry and headed up Van Dyke Street. The first thing we noticed were that a few houses and stores had flea market style set ups outside and were selling a bunch of things. The more streets we explored, the more stalls and garage sales we found. We eventually realised that the neighbourhood was having a two-day stoop sale event called ‘Stooptopia’ – the goal of it to ‘Buy, Sell, Trade, Give, Promoting neighborly LOVE’ – how awesome!
THE RED HOOK WINERY
(Pier 41, 325 A, 175 – 204 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)
Our first official stop on our day out was a tasting and tour at The Red Hook Winery, where on Saturdays and Sundays they offer a free 15 minute tour with any tasting purchased. Tastings are $15 per person and you can choose up to 6 wines to sample from a menu of 6 whites and 6 reds. Something that we found interesting was that all Red Hook wines are produced using grapes from New York (Long Island and the Fingerling Lakes). We decided to taste 6 different ones each – to cover all ground! Following our tasting, we took a tour of the warehouse where the wine is fermented, bottled and aged. We had so much fun at this winery, and thoroughly recommend it for anyone in the Red Hook area. They also have a great view of Manhattan from the back of the warehouse.
(24 Reed Street Brooklyn, NY 11231)
For lunch we stopped at Brooklyn Crab, a two story crab shack with a lively atmosphere. I went for the bucket of Atlantic Crabs while Joe went for their Crab Roll – both delicious! This place seems like it would be an awesome afternoon hangout for a big group as they have a bunch of outdoor games such as corn hole and mini golf on the lower level.
STEVE’S AUTHENTIC KEY LIME PIE
(185 Van Dyke St, Brooklyn, NY 11231)
Next stop – dessert! About a 5 minute walk from Brooklyn Crab is Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie where you can get all natural, authentic pies. What makes these so special? Unlike most bakeries and pie producers, Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies use freshly squeezed lime juice. Be sure to try ‘The Swingle’, a frozen 4-inch key lime pie dipped in Belgian dark chocolate on a popsicle stick.
WIDOW JANE + CACAO PRIETO
(214 Conover St, Brooklyn, NY 11231)
After walking off our dessert, we strolled over to Widow Jane and Cacao Prieto Distillery. Walk in tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays at 12:00PM, 2:00PM and 4:00PM are are $20 per person including a tasting at the end. Since we had some time to spare before the tour, we decided to do their ‘Heirloom’ tasting (an additional $20 per person) which was a sample of whiskeys produced using heirloom and ancient strains of corn.
After our first tasting we were taken on a tour of the chocolate production (note – unless you are wearing a hat, you’ll be required to wear a hair net). During this tour we learnt about the chocolate making process using Dominican Cacao and were treated to samples of the chocolate—I loved the almond and sea salt flavour! After this, we hit up the whiskey side and learnt more around how Widow Jane distills its whiskey and the way in which they use different types of corn to produce different flavours. It was an awesome tasting/tour!
VAN BRUNT STILLHOUSE
(1, 6 Bay St, Brooklyn, NY 11231)
Our last stop on the winery/distillery tour of Red Hook was Van Brunt Stillhouse. This one was unplanned but we’re so glad we went since we got to try their incredible cocktails. Definitely worth visiting this place! They offer tours, tastings and have a very cosy living room style bar with a menu of great cocktails.
After Van Brunt Stillhouse, we quickly popped walked around IKEA (if there is such a thing) and headed back to the ferry stop. Return ferries run every 40 minutes with the last one departing at 9.15pm. We were definitely whiskey’d and sunned out by the end of the day but it was such a fun day out!