Friday, January 28, 2011

Mark and Lynn smuggle Breuckelen Gin out of Brooklyn...

On one of our recent trips to Brooklyn's Red Hook area we visited a great Spirits store Dry Dock Wine & Spirits.  we picked up a bottle of Breuckelen Gin  This particular spirit is the creation of  Brooklyn's Brad Estabrooke who was inspired to create this spirit after having read an article about how distilling laws were being modified to allow for more distilleries to open and flourish. He was laid off from his finance job in '08 and has been working as a distiller ever since.  The spelling of the gin is apparently one of the older forms  of the spelling of Brooklyn which seems appropriate as the spirit has a great kind of early American bite to it that makes me think of a film like Drums Along the Mowhawk with it's colonial politics and dark, cozy taverns with men sitting around in tri corner hats smoking a clay pipe.  It was fun for us to bring a bottle back as it is widely available in Brooklyn, Manhattan and even upstate but thus far not on Long Island...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mark, Lynn, Kristina, Dave, Jackson and Sloane check out Brooklyn Brewery

We visited the Brooklyn Brewery last weekend and found quite a raucous but friendly scene while there.  No doubt the raucous was due in part to the impending Jets-Patriots game as well as the long, MLK weekend.  We went with our daughter Kristina, son-in-law David and their charming children lovely Sloane and rock star Jackson.  I am not much of a beer drinker but my son in law David appreciates the art of brewing and anyway we are always up for that kind of thing,

The Brewery has a roguish back story; co-founded in 1987 by former AP correspondent Steve Hindy learned to brew his own beer while working in the Middle East where many states forbid alcohol consumption.  When returning to the US Mr. Hindy continued to work on his own concoctions with the assistance of Tom Potter, a former Chemical Bank lending officer and Mr. Hindy's neighbor.  Initially, the beer was brewed in Utica, NY and marketed, transported and so on by Mr. Hindy and Mr. Potter.  In 1996 the two acquired a former Matzo factory and converted it into a functional brewery (much of this story can be found in Mr. Hindy's and Mr. Potter's book Beer School).

We were familiar with Brooklyn Brewery beer having seen it's rather iconic "B" in the beer case of places like Whole Foods and in local beverage stores but, alas, we had never tried it.  Saturday, however, seemed like a nice moment to try the place and we were very impressed with the results.  First off, as mentioned previous, the place had an raucous vibe that we have rarely seen in uber cool Brooklyn.  Second, everyone was very friendly to us and despite the amount of people everyone was very cool about letting us maneuver through the crowd with children and samples of beer.

By far our favorite brew was the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout which reminded us favorably of traditional Guinness but with a savory bite that differs from Guinesses' pleasant bitterness.  Upon our return to Brookhaven we immediately got a pack which is the perfect beer for the kind of bitter winter evenings we are having here in the northeast.

Mark, Lynn, Kristina, Dave, Jackson and Sloane check out Fatty Cue in Brooklyn...

Mark and Lynn took the Perkins branch of our family (Dave, Kristina, Jackson and Sloane) to Brooklyn as part of Kristina's birthday weekend.  First up was Fatty Cue a restaurant that specializes in mash ups of US barbecue and Asian cuisine.  First off, the place was predictably attractive with a dark, rugged bar area and a cozy but naturally lit back dining room that felt cloistered and brought to my mind a tavern where early American politics might be debated.  

The staff were the most friendly we have ever seen anywhere.  To appreciate how jarring this kind of thing is to me remember I am from North Carolina where everyone is supposed to be friendly and everyone North of say Virginia are supposed to be unrepentant jackasses.  Our experiences in New York and particularly in Brooklyn have seen us get great service and nice attention, the result of which is that we have seen these stereotypes smashed to bits (ironic, in a way that we have had consistent trouble with restaurant service in my native Tar Heel state).  Most impressive from this experience was the ease at which the staff handled our grandchildren.  Jackson and Sloane are well behaved and are actually very sophisticated in this kind of environment but they are spirited and get excited in a stimulating environment.  Jackson and Sloane typically get a lot of attention (click this link to see an example of this) and the staff here were great in accommodating our stroller, getting a high chair for Sloane and so on.  One of the waiters was predictably charmed by Jackson and took the trouble to download "Thomas the Train" pages that he (Jackson) could color.

As is the pattern in Brooklyn we loved the cocktails; Lynn had something called a Big Ben which combined Scotch, Elderflower, Lillet Blanc, Orange and Campari.  I rarely like cocktails which feature Scotch but this one really helped sweeten up the masculine smokiness of the Scotch making for a great cold weather cocktail that packed just the right amount of punch.  I had a great rye Manhattan but I mildly regret not having stepped out of my comfort zone to try a "Dark and Stormy" a rum based drink with ginger beer that I will be sure to try next time.  

The food was definitely stick to your ribs fare; I had a grilled cheese with chili butter that was really huge and my son in law David (a fellow Southerner) had Pork Ribs that were flavorful and hefty.  We went out into the Brooklyn cold pleasantly stuffed and proceeded to walk off some of the hefty carbs and protein vowing to return to experience dinner and more of the savory cocktails. 

Mark, Lynn, Kristina, Dave, Jackson and Sloane take Brooklyn by storm...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mark and Lynn visit Dry Dock in Red Hook...

Whilst in Red Hook Lynn and I happened upon a liquor store called Dry Dock Spirits.  A compact and cozy establishment, Dry Dock Liquors has a hip array of spirits and wine.  It was there that I found hard to find bourbons like Ancient Age (a favorite from the south but hard to find in NY) as well as local spirits like Breuckelen Gin from Breuckelen Distilling Company.

The representatives from this establishment let us have a nice shot of this particular hometown spirit.  Breuckelen Gin struck us as bracing, old fashioned and a pleasant punch to our pallate....

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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