New York City’s first and only whiskey distillery since Prohibition, Great Jones Distilling Co. is the place to go to celebrate the past and present of whiskey culture. Located in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood, visitors have the opportunity to tour the distillery, sample craft cocktails at the bar and even dine in their swanky restaurant.
On a recent visit, I arrived early for my tour of the distillery and took a seat at the Tasting Room Bar. It was Prohibition Hour (aka Happy Hour) and I decided to try a Great Jones Rye Manhattan. While many people now use bourbon in this cocktail, I relished the spicier taste of the rye in my Manhattan. It was one of the best cocktails I’ve had in a long time and set the stage for an informative tour of the distillery, led by our guide, Felicia.
The tour of the distillery gave us in-depth insight into the whiskey distilling operation. We learned the basics of the process, all about the unique ingredients Great Jones uses and how the layers of their bourbons and rye come together. After that, we took an elevator down to a tasting room where we got to do a tasting of the distillery’s core whiskeys.
Felicia encouraged us to smell, taste and “chew” each whiskey, and also to see how the flavor changed when we added a dropper full of water. She encouraged us to talk about what we were tasting, and she liked my note that the straight bourbon reminded me of a yule log.
Our evening didn’t end there—next it was back up to the bar to sample some exceptional cocktails and small bites.
I decided to try a drink from the menu’s “Tall and Refreshing” page. Our Little Secret is Great Jones’ take on a tiki drink, except that it features rye instead of rum. Another member of our group tried a drink from the “Classic & Spirit Foward” selections, the Applewood Smoked Old Fashioned, which was made with Great Jones Straight Bourbon, brown sugar, aromatic bitters and applewood smoke (yes, the drink came out smoking, making a dramatic appearance!).
Our other friends went for the classic Manhattan made with rye that I’d tried earlier and a Black Manhattan, made with Great Jones Four Grain Bourbon, sweet vermouth and local amaro. Standout appetizers included the duck croquettes, BBQ wings and a selection of seasonal cheeses.
Great Jones Distilling Co. uses 100 percent New York-sourced ingredients and visiting here is like taking a step into the history of New York (while enjoying everything the distillery has to offer in the here and now!). You can make a whole afternoon or evening out of your visit. Book a distillery experience such as the tour we took, or a curated pairing experience. Then head upstairs the Tasting Room Bar for artisanal cocktails and bites or to The Restaurant for larger plates. This place will give you a real taste of old New York—and then be sure to take home a bottle for yourself or as a holiday gift for someone special (I highly recommend the Great Jones Rye, crafted from ingredients grown in the Black Dirt region of Warwick Valley, NY and cut with Catskill Mountain water.).
Great Jones Distilling Co. is located at 686 Broadway, New York, NY and you can reserve your visit online.