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New York Love and Spirit

July 6, 2018

We live in a big, beautiful state. And it’s filled with good stuff.

There is nothing quite like leaving—even for a couple of days—to help remember the magnificence of New York. As the sun set in Burlington, and we watched it descend from the lake’s eastern shore, the Adirondacks dominated the skyline. Those are some majestic mountains. It’s an incredible view.

Just earlier in the day, we had been driving through that very same range. I love long drives. I love experiencing the distance between places, and watching the scenery change from region to region.

It was a poignant reminder of the size and beauty not just of New York, but the country as a whole. Part of me was looking for something to love, and I definitely found it.

Speaking of love, New York, and good stuff, I recently made a delicious discovery.

Last weekend at Eat Drink Saratoga there were wine, beer, and spirits producers from all over the state. There were also a few from beyond our borders too.

Not all that long ago, I was able to stay on top of all the craft distilleries which opened up in New York. But that hasn’t been true for awhile now. Events like this one are a great opportunity to catch up on some tasting and learn more about how craft spirits are growing and evolving.

For example, I learned about how Southern Tier Distilling Co came about as a result of the brewery’s growth. As the brewing operations expanded, and moved into a larger facility, the original brewery was converted into a distillery. And they are getting creative with American whiskey, modeling one after their double IPA.

I thought it was a fun and delicious spirit. In some ways it defies definition. And that means the distillery can take liberties that bourbon production might not allow. Innovation and playfulness in whiskey production should be celebrated.

Rochester’s Black Button Distilling was there too. At least I had heard about Black Button thanks to Albany Distilling Company’s bar and bottle shop, where Black Button’s bourbon cream is on the cocktail menu.

But the biggest surprise was from a distillery in the 1000 Islands.

Saint Lawrence Spirits was entirely off my radar. I had no idea there was a distillery in Clayton. Actually, the entire part of the state is still a mystery to me.

Amazingly, they are making absinthe! At the festival they brought their rouge. Until last weekend, I was familiar with green and white absinthe. Red absinthe, as it turns out, is steeped on hibiscus blossoms to pick up their color after the spirit is distilled with anise and grand wormwood.

Not only is it beautiful, but it’s delicious. With the addition of cold water, this clear 130 proof absinthe develops an opalescent cloudy appearance, and transforms from a fiery spirit into a refreshing aperitif. I take mine in a four to one ratio of water to spirit. It’s especially refreshing on a hot summer day.

This was such a remarkable find that I had to buy a bottle on the spot. I was told that the only place to buy it locally was a spirits shop in Cohoes. But since I didn’t know the next time I would be up that way, it was better to snag a bottle at the festival.

While some lesser absinthes can cost $80 or more, this one was a great value at around $50.

If you ask for Saint Lawrence Spirits from your favorite bottle shop, they should be able to order it. I’ve had good luck with special orders from All Star in Latham. Or you could try to hunt down a bottle in Cohoes.

These bottles are just my most recent finds, and are just a small sample of what’s newish in craft spirits. I’m thrilled to see the expanding craft beverage landscape in New York. It’s magnificent. But I would expect nothing less from our great state.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. albanylandlord permalink
    July 11, 2018 12:31 am

    Oh, I want one of those. Maybe it will wean me from my recent addiction to Green Chartreuse…

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