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Spirit is willing — and the flesh is full of gin! - Brooklyn Paper

Spirit is willing — and the flesh is full of gin!

Tom Potter shows off his gin.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The spirit is risen — and now you can taste it.

The gin has begun to flow at the New York Distilling Company in Williamsburg last week — pleasing cocktail nerds and gin lovers throughout the city.

Former Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Tom Potter, who helped turn a fledgling craft brewer into one of the 20 largest beer makers in the country, joined former Slow Food USA chairman Allen Katz to build a gin and whiskey distillery from scratch in foodie Brooklyn.

They found a bare bones corrugated steel shed on Leonard Street last year whose renovations left them neither shaken nor stirred.

“Before we got here the building had no water, sewers, plumbing, gas, and electricity — it was exactly what we wanted,” said Potter. “Today, this is one of the best laid-out distilleries in the East Coast.”

Last Wednesday, Potter and Katz began distilling the first batch of gin in a hand-hammered copper still imported from Germany.

It takes about eight hours to make drinkable gin in the warehouse’s stills — but it can take as long as a week for the flavors of the mature gin to come together. And rye whiskey can age as long as six months to two years.

“The key behind distilling is that the alcoholic vapors come into contact with the copper, which mellows its taste,” said Potter.

This year, Potter and Katz are focused on churning out two types of gin: “Perry’s Tot,” a 114-proof juniper juggernaut with a touch of wild honey that stands up to bold ingredients in mixed drinks; and “Dorothy Parker,” a fruitier 85-proof gin that has hints of lemon, orange, cardamom, hibiscus and elderberry flavors. Each bottle should cost about $34.

Neighborhood mixologists are already salivating.

“We get excited about overproof spirit — they’re great to work with in our drinks,” said Dram’s Tom Chadwick. “There isn’t really much 114-proof gin on the market. I can’t wait to try it.”

And just after Thanksgiving the distillery’s bar, The Shanty, will offer both gins in an array of classic and experimental cocktails.

Shanty manager Nate Dumas will be serving up martinis, sazeracs, gin and tonics, and rye drinks — using housemade gins and those from other distilleries from Brooklyn and beyond so you can perform your own taste test.

But Dumas prefers the stronger stuff if you ask him.

“I want things to be upward of 50-percent alcohol; if you use 40 percent, it can taste watered down or insipid when you mix ingredients,” said Dumas. “But if you use a stronger proof, it stands up to the shaking and stirring.”

Now that’s the can-do spirit!

The Shanty Bar and the New York Distilling Company [405 Leonard St. at Richardson Street in Williamsburg, (718) 473-2955]. For info, visit www.nydistilling.com.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at ashort@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2547.

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