Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom

New York Craft SpiritsNo matter where you live, you’ve probably been to a restaurant that serves farm-to-table fare. This typically means the chef uses the most seasonal ingredients available from likely local farmers and suppliers. But in recent years, New York state has been experiencing an entirely different kind of movement – the type that’ll get you a little tipsy.

Inspired by the “farm to glass” movement of the past decade, Heather D. Dolland’s new book Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom tells the stories of 30 craft distillers in New York state to learn about their journeys and why using local ingredients is so important in making their products. To learn more about the book and the movement, we caught up with the author to get an inside look on the industry and tips on pairing your favorite spirits with food.

Your book takes a deep dive into the craft spirits movement of New York state by looking at 30 different distillers and their journeys to success. What are some of the reasons for the boom in producers over the last decade in this region?

The creation of the Farm Distillery Act in 2007 had a significant impact on the boom of craft distillers in New York State. The Act officially recognized distilling as a “farm use” and significantly reduced the financial obligation necessary to get a distillers license from $50,800 to $1,450.

New York Craft SpiritsThe distillers featured in your book are all about the farm-to-glass movement, meaning they use local farms and ingredients to craft their spirits. Do you think this mentality is a branch of the fairly recent spurt in farm-to-table and local eating? Does it all come back to supporting the community or is it a choice that affects the taste of the product as well?

Part of the condition for obtaining a license under the Farm Distillery Act is that 75% of the raw materials has to be sourced from New York State. Some of the distillers grow the raw product they distill. For those who do not, by having one of the requirements be 75% needs to be sourced from New York State, it provides a boost to the local economy. This absolutely affects the way products taste as a result of terroir. Different soil throughout New York State has certain characteristics that is reflected in the natural product, and in turn is reflected in the distilled product.

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We’ve all paired food with wine and beer, but spirit pairings are more of a rarity for us. What are some of the important factors to consider when matching a spirit with a meal? What are some of your favorite pairings?

Successfully pairing a cocktail with food hinges upon the intensity and complexity of the spirit with similar characteristics in the meal. For example. I enjoy smoked meats with a Whiskey Sour. They are both full of flavor on their own and the complexity of the whiskey with the citrus factor compliments the density of flavor in a smoked brisket. Especially one that’s based in a sweet sauce. Similarly, I enjoy a simple, not sweet vodka-based cocktail with seafood. Like a White Cosmo with a Lobster Roll!

We love a good cocktail, especially when it’s made with a craft spirit. Any refreshing summer libation recipes you could share with us?

I am a big fan of Owney’s Rum. Especially in the warmer months, “The Classic Daiquiri” is one of my favorite cocktails!

2 ounces Owney’s Rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1 lime wheel

Shake vigorously and serve in rocks glass with ice. Garnish with lime wheel.

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