Regular readers of my column will know I live in New York, as I moved here from London to be with my wife who got a job in NYC.
New York is earth shatteringly expensive, particularly Manhattan and the trendy parts of Brooklyn. British visitors, even those used to London prices, are met with a nasty shock at the cost of everything.
So recently I’ve started exploring things to do on a small budget in New York. If you look hard enough you can find some real gems.
On Saturday my wife and I woke up and discovered it was a beautiful day. Spring has FINALLY arrived in New York. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of me knows I have an obsession with craft beer. I have subjected Felicity to dozens of breweries and many here in the city. Felicity suggested for a change that we go to a gin distillery.
I did some research and discovered New York Distilling Company in Williamsburg. I looked at their website and saw something couldn’t be right. They did tours every Saturday completely free of charge. I was skeptical but decided to check it out.
We walked from our home in the Upper East Side over the Ed Koch Bridge into Long Island City and then into Greenpoint, where we stopped at the Keg and Lantern Brewery (well we were walking past so it would be rude not to!). Cheap and excellent beer was available. You can get pitchers for $17 and it’s very good beer brewed on the premises.
We then walked down to the NY Distilling Company and their in house bar the Shanty, where we discovered it was happy hour. They have this until 5pm on weekends and later during the week. You can get cocktails for $7 and Brooklyn Brewery beer for $3. Tom Potter, one of the owners of NY Distilling, was a founder and CEO of Brooklyn Brewery.
It took me a while to recover from the shock of paying $3 for a huge can of Brooklyn Brewery Beer. That shock was shattered, when I tried a cocktail.
It was one of the best gin based cocktails I’ve ever had and I’ve been to many of the best cocktail bars in the world.
They then made an announcement for the tour. We walked into the large distillery area. The lovely, knowledgeable and wonderful host then proceeded to talk us through the process of making gin and whisky, talking through their story and their products and most importantly giving us free tasting of their products.
Honestly if you are visiting New York or you live here you are really missing out on a special experience if you don't do it. You learn a lot about the gin process, can get world-class cocktails and beer cheaply and get free tastings of their excellent products.
Once we finished at NY Distilling we walked to Trophy Bar near the Marcy Avenue subway. I wanted to check out yet another discount happy hour. Grilled cheeses for $6 and drinks for $5!
In the end it was ok. The bar tender was pretty rude and clearly didn’t want to be there. In bars service is obviously one of the most important parts and if you don’t want to work somewhere please don’t because it just ruins the experience.
Financial necessity forced me into looking for the hidden gems but I’m really glad it did. When you bother to look you can find some great deals in New York. I will certainly be going back to NY Distilling and continuing my quest to find the best experiences in New York.
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