During our lightening speed tour of Red Hook, we stopped by Cacao Prieto, a bean to bar chocolate factory. Actually, it goes even further than just bean to bar. The same family that owns the factory and makes the chocolate in Brooklyn grows the beans at their organic farm in the Dominican Republic. Even the sugar comes from the family’s farm.
I was very excited to buy some of their chocolate, since my friends the Radunsky’s had brought me back a bar of 72% Almond and Salt from their trip to New York last summer, and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. Located in a restored warehouse the company has been tremendously successful. So successful, in fact, that by the time we arrived on December 27, they were completely out of stock. The holiday rush had overwhelmed them, and they had not one bar of chocolate for sale or even to try.
Luckily, we were able to drown our sorrows by trying their other product: bourbon.
As it turns out that while learning how to ferment cacao beans to make chocolate, the folks at Prieto developed a liking for and skill at other types of fermentation. Which lead to distillation. Which lead to producing rum and other liqueurs. Which lead to Widow Jane bourbon.
At least that is the story line that the heavily tatooed and bearded distiller told us while we were petting the chickens that they keep in the back courtyard. (this is Brooklyn, where almost every place we went into involved some combination of beards, tatoos and – when we were lucky – live chickens)
What is well known that not only does Widow Jane produce some of the best Bourbon around, it is, I believe, the only whiskey is distilled in the city.
All of this artisan attention to detail does not come cheap. But I do. I was so cheap that after tasting their incredibly smooth bourbon I decided it was just too expensive for me.
I was regretting it from the minute I walked out the door.
Luckily, I know people who have better judgement. Our best friends Yves and Sienna are no longer our neighbors in Monti, since they’ve picked up and moved to hipster central: Williamsburg. And while I am sad they’ve left (destroyed, really) I’m very happy to report, that even though they live a half a world away, they have continued the tradition of supplying us with cocktails no matter where we are. We got to spend two lovely evenings at their Williamsburg apartment, where Yves mixed up perfect drinks using a bottle of Widow Jane.
The drink was more or less a Brooklyn Cocktail. But with a few changes. Enough changes to rename it, I think. What do you call a Brooklyn Cocktail that is so local it uses bourbon brewed just down the road ? Yves came up with the perfect name I think.
2 oz Widow Jane Bourbon
1 oz red vermouth
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
8-10 dashes of Fee Brothers Whisky Barrel Bitters