Sweets for Your Sweetie


Brooklyn bakers and chocolate makers are busy dreaming up all sorts of delights for Valentine’s Day. Here’s just a sampling.


Nunu-heart-lollipopNunu Chocolates will package its salt caramels (above) in a heart-shaped box (6 pieces/$14, 12/$24). They are  hand-dipped in dark chocolate with a dusting of fleur de sel on top—I personally find them irresistible any time of year. Or how about giving all your beloveds a heart-shaped dark chocolate lollipop for just $2 a pop?
529 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill

Mast Brothers Chocolate will have Valentine’s truffles and bon bons in its case.


250-MastBrothersValentinesCakeAnd they’re baking an over-the-top Valentine’s Day treat: a chocolate caramel layered cake with King’s County Distillery bourbon, buttercream filling and shaved chocolate on top. Call to reserve your cake; it is available for store pick-up only.
111 North 3rd Street, Williamsburg

val-heart-cookiesBetty Bakery has hearts galore to choose from: a floral-embossed Victorian Heart—an orange-coffee cookie dipped in white chocolate, a Linzer Heart— sandwiched with raspberry jam, of course, and an Iced Sable Heart—hand-decorated in shades of pink, red and white ($3.95). But wait, there are small heart cookies by the pound ($32) and heart cakes, as well: the Romantic Quilled Heart Cake is an iced chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream, the Giddy Heart Cake is a yellow butter cake with fudgy chocolate ganache, iced in red rolled fondant …All this is making me feel a bit giddy myself. How about a chocolate dipped strawberry ($1.95) as a palate cleanser?
448 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill

FanyBrownieRobicellisRobicelli’s is offering a special dozen cupcakes in Valentine’s Day flavors—Strawberry Champagne, The Eve (walnut cake with pomegranate cheesecake buttercream), The Ebinger (chocolate, chocolate, chocolate), Creme Brulée—with a personalized card, ribbon wrapping and delivery ($50).Or how about a 4-pack or 12-pack of Robicelli’s Fany Brownies—named after Fany Gerson, aka La Newyorkina, whose kitchen and expensive equipment to make her Mexican ice pops were destroyed by Sandy. Robicelli’s dark chocolate brownie base is “spiked with Mexican cinnamon, swirled with sweet sexy cajeta.” A portion of the profits will go to La Newyorkina. Order cupcakes and brownies by 2 pm Tuesday, February 12, for hand delivery.
Bay Ridge, 917-509-6048

The Owl’s Head / Wine Bar in Bay Ridge is hosting a pop-up dessert event with Robicelli’s on Valentine’s Day. You’ll need to make reservations— call 718-680-2436—for one of two limited reserved seatings: 7 pm  and 9:45 pm. An advance reservation for two people includes three shared Robicelli’s dessert courses and 4 oz drink pairings for each person for $75 (not including tax and tip). Just look at this menu…

First Course: Pear MascarponeTheOwlsHeadWineBar
Mascarpone panna cotta, roasted pear compote, spiced pear chip
Served with: German Gilabert Zero Dosage Cava Brut Nature 2011

Second Course: The Noah
Apple galette, goat cheese mousse, roasted candied bacon, bourbon brown sugar sauce
Served with: Niepoort 2001 Colheita Port

Third Course: Car Bomb
Jameson whiskey, Bailey’s Irish Cream & Guinness stout opera cake, Guinness beer nut praline
Served with: Sixpoint 3beans über-porter

No reservations, no problem. Walk-ins are always welcome for drinks and bites. There should even be some desserts available à la carte. Lovers and lonelyhearts, go have some fun!

The Owl’s Head / Wine Bar
479 74th Street, Bay Ridge

Distilled in Brooklyn

Day Eight 12 Sips of Brooklyn


dec13 date stamp by Joy Makon Design

TODAY’S SIP TAKES TO HEART THE WORDS of the incomparable Ogden Nash: “Candy is dandy, but Liquor is quicker.” Instead of words, words, words, though, let’s cut to the headline: Brooklyn Brews Booze.

Kings County Bourbon (top) is distilled in the 113-year old Paymaster Building of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Check out Brooklyn Artisan‘s earlier coverage on a tour of the distillery. Kings County, one of the first small-batch distillers in the state, brews its mash with Scottish barley for authenticity, along with American corn. For true Brooklyn cred, the distillery has added corn picked from a small crop grown in the yard of the distillery into their batches. Best served neat—water breaks things!


Widow Jane Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (above, left) is the most recent offering from Cacao Prieto in Red Hook. Released in October 2012 at a party there, Widow Jane is made with water brought from the limestone mine in upstate New York that provided stone for the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building.

Industry City No. 2 Vodka (above, center) is produced in Sunset Park, where Industry City Distilling creates its sugar beet vodka. They document their progress in building a larger plant on their nicely designed, fun web site, which has videos, photos of the distillers and details about the distilling process. Wonder what happened to No. 1?

77 Whiskey, from Brueckelen Distillery (above, right) in Sunset Park is made from New York State wheat. The distillers were the subject of a beautiful Made by Hand video a couple of years ago.


New York Distilling is making gin (above, left) in Williamsburg, including a version named in tribute to Algonquin Round Table denizen Dorothy Parker, who definitely knew gin. They also have a full service bar cum tasting room next to the distillery called The Shanty.

Brueckelen also makes Glorious Gin (above, center) with New York Wheat, keeping it in the family.

 Brooklyn Gin, despite its name (above, right), is actually fabricated in Warwick, New York, which makes it part of that region we like to call Outer Brooklyn. But we take the name as a gin-soaked compliment.

Kings County Distillery
63 Flushing Avenue, Navy Yard

Industry City Distilling
33 35th Street, Sunset Park

Breuckelen Distilling
77 19th Street, Sunset Park


Cacao Prieto
218 Conover Street, Red Hook

New York Distilling Company
79 Richardson Street, Williamsburg

Brooklyn Distilling Company
Warwick, New York

Many of these drinks are available for consumption at fine Brooklyn booze halls like:

The Drink
228 Washington Avenue, Williamsburg

Fort Defiance
365 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook

Photographs by Bruce Campbell. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Shelley Allegro, by Matthew Carter, Linotype, 1972.

Sipping Moonshine & Bourbon at The Kings County Distillery

YOU GET A NICE DOSE OF HISTORY AND 3 SIPS OF WHISKY for your $8 on a typical Saturday afternoon between 2:30 and 5:30, in Building 121, the old Paymaster quarters at the Brooklyn Navy Yards. Brooklyn Artisan took the tour on Sunday, a special opening for the distillery’s participation in Open House New York.

The Boozeum displays a home-size copper distiller.

The Kings County Distillery bills itself as New York City’s oldest operating whisky distillery – founded in 2010 by Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, on a porch in Bushwick, and relocated last year to the Navy Yard in Williamsburg. In their new-but-old building (built at the turn of the last century), space is given to a modest wall display of photos. It features readably-large repro’s of historic documents and a lively old-newspaper account of a local battle in the “Whisky Wars” fought not long after the Civil War ended.

Triggering the Vinegar Hill riots, troops from the Naval Yard were sent into the “Irishtown” neighborhood to close down 13 illicit stills. Vast quantities of distillery waste water poured out into  the streets. Twenty people were killed. (When a rum-maker’s vat in Boston burst, molasses in an eight-foot wave made a micro-tsunami in the narrow street. Imagine the sticky aftermath. And the flies. No business for sissies.)

The federal action on distilleries was not about temperance, it was about taxes; excise taxes, not taxes on income, had funded the Civil War. After the war, the feds wanted to shut down any stills that weren’t paying up. Only after income-based taxation was legislated early in the 20th century could the country afford Prohibition and the loss of revenue from “sin taxes” on booze.

The history display is called the Boozeum, and I’m glad to report that the same sense of humor about themselves and their “evolving” whisky-hist’ry show pervades the whole operation and spares it any whiff of pretentiousness. They take themselves lightly, but as a native Kentuckian, Colin Spoelman has maintained from the beginning that they are serious about their bourbon. His home state’s Nelson County is widely considered the beating heart of bourbon country. Last year, with the move to the bigger distillery, Colin gave up his day job with an architecture firm to grow the business. Now, that is being serious.

The Mash: Hot water liquifies the starch in corn, then enzymes from sprouting barley seed break down the starches. Bourbon mash is 70% corn, 30% barley.

A third partner, Nicole Austin (above), has joined the founders and now oversees operations. She studied chemical engineering in college, though not with this career in mind. “It was kind of like a lightbulb going off,” she says, “I thought, Hey, I bet I know how to make this.” In its early days in Bushwick, the distillery bottled up to 270 liters of corn and barley based whisky a month, less than one tenth of what they now can produce in the Paymaster building.

Nicole also conducted the Sunday tour we joined, discussing the progress of distilling from American corn and Scottish barley “mash,” through yeast-processing, batch-testing and tasting, and then aging in the proper new American-oak barrels that must be used if the spirits are to qualify as legitimate bourbon.

About two years ago New York State started defining “farm distillery “ or Class D licenses more broadly, Nicole explains, which means that small-batch producers legally can distill, bottle and wholesale spirits themselves. Apple producers and farmers lobbied heavily for the change in law. With no more required cut for separately licensed distributors, the economics as well as the legal climate have suddenly become much more attractive. The Kings County Distillery was fast out of the gate. Now, Austin says, there are a dozen licensed distillers in the city (not all of them up and going yet) and two dozen or more in the state. [Read more…]

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