Now that’s the spirits! Brooklyn Brewery founder moves on to the hard stuff

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One of the men who brought beer back to Brooklyn is moving on to the hard stuff.

Tom Potter, the retired co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery, plans to distill whiskey and gin in the borough — the first legal still in the city since Prohibition. Brooklynites could be imbibing as soon as next year if everything goes smooth like, to pull a simile out of the blue, a single malt Scotch.

Potter still needs to find investors for the $3-million venture, to secure a location in Brooklyn and to soberly hop through the licensing hoops of the State Liquor Authority.

“I’m not expecting it to be easy, but I’m optimistic,” Potter said, whose newly formed company is New York Distilling. “We’re about a year away from production.”

The style will be “handmade,” “traditional” and “artisanal” spirits, not some bathtub gin or moonshine. He plans to buy ingredients, such as rye for his whiskey or botanicals for his gin, from an upstate organic farm.

Potter founded Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg with Steve Hindy in 1997, but sold his stake about five years ago.

After “doing a lot of kayaking,” Potter, 53, is ready to hop back to work — and that means drinking.

He’s scouring the borough for a facility to produce the booze and entice visitors with tours. He’s checked out Williamsburg, Red Hook, Sunset Park and Gowanus.

“I would prefer Gowanus — it’s just a really cool neighborho­od,” Potter said.

Crain’s New York Business reported Potter’s new venture on Wednesday and by early evening, Potter had more buzz than the regulars at Jackie’s Fifth Amendment.

“Anything Tom puts out is going to be something I’m happy to carry in my store,” said Darrin Siegfried, owner of Red, White and Bubbly, the Park Slope liquor store.

Potter, making the transition from brewing to distilling, is undeterred by the old adage of “beer before liquor, never sicker,” that has saved many a tippler from a rough night.

“I’m fearless in the face of that,” said Potter. “I don’t think there’s a bit of truth to it.” — with Evan Gardner

Updated 5:12 pm, July 9, 2018
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