Bourbon for the barely aged: It’s a ‘whiskey festival for millennials’ in Greenpoint

Bourbon for the barely aged: It’s a ‘whiskey festival for millennials’ in Greenpoint
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

It’s shot stuff!

The inaugural Whiskey Feast taking over Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Expo Center on Nov. 19 aims to be as hip as a flask with young people. One organizer said that the disco ball–adorned celebration of brown liquor will be a refreshing, fun take on typically snooty whiskey get-togethers.

“A lot of whiskey festivals are pretty stuffy and over-the-top and high-end and velvet jackets and cigars,” said Kate Levenstien, the head of Cannonball Productions, which organized the festival. “We want this to be a way where people can come and learn and taste whiskey without any judgment. It’s the whiskey festival for millennials.”

So in addition to unlimited samples of whiskey from more than two dozen distilleries, the gathering will feature a DJ, a brass band, flash tats (those are temporary tattoos for you olds), and games of cornhole — the ultimate youngster sport.

Attendees will receive a mini-mason jar to fill with whiskey and cocktails, and there will be plenty of free water in larger glasses to keep people hydrated, along with food vendors to help line their stomachs, said Levenstien.

Regardless of your generation, one whiskey to look out for at the fest is the very limited-edition Ragtime Rye, from Williamsburg’s New York Distilling Company. A batch released in 2015 vanished from shelves almost immediately, and this year the distillery has released just 900 cases.

The rye whiskey has been aged for more than three years, making it one of the best aged beverages in the Empire State, according to one of its creators.

“It is, if not the oldest, certainly one of the oldest rye whiskies made in New York state,” said Allen Katz, a co-founder of the distillery on Richardson Street. “It’s unique, nuanced, and very flavored — it tastes of more than just wood.”

Along with the rare rye, New York Distillery will offer sweet sips of “Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye,” its take on a 19th century drink that mixed whiskey with rock candy — perfect for sweet-toothed millennials.

Other Brooklyn distilleries at the Whiskey Feast include Red Hook’s Van Brunt Stillhouse and Sunset Park’s Breuckelen Distilling.

For those who crave more than straight shots, more than a dozen cocktail bars will also shake up whiskey drinks at the fest. One organizer said those booths offer a great way to bar hop without breaking the bank.

“What makes this event stand out is being able to try cocktails from so many different cocktail bars from around the city — if you tried to go to 20 in one night you’d blow your bank account,” said Cannonball’s Betsy Phillips.

Whiskey Feast at Brooklyn Expo Center (72 Noble St. at Franklin Street in Greenpoint, www.whiskeyfeast.com). Nov. 19, 2–4:30 pm and 7–9:30 pm. $69–$125.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
A rye deal: New York Distilling Company’s rare Ragtime Rye will available a the Whiskey Feast.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell