Cover image: Courtesy of Taste NY / Tiff
Have you ever seen the Taste of New York Stores that have locations all around New York State? I notice it every time I go to Grand Central. When I have a second to stop in, I realize I only go to a select few wines that I’ve tasted at vineyards up north and am clueless when it comes anything else.
Governor Cuomo had a solution for customers like me. To encourage purchases from local farms and distillers, he created the first-ever Taste NY Experience an event that took place on May 24th at Pier A in Battery Park. This is an ongoing initiative to support the economic growth and tourism for NY state for the state and showcased 50 of New York State’s craft producers of spirits, beer, wine, and cider.
I met many artisanal producers representing 10 distilleries, 13 breweries, 18 wineries and 9 cideries from the Empire State including: legendary bar The Dead Rabbit, Finger Lakes Distilling, Brooklyn’s New York Distilling Company, Shmaltz Brewing, Yonkers Brewing, Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Cider House and way too much more. Food to soak up the booze included: Brooklyn’s Anomaly Season (unconventional kimchi, e.g., apple, beet, blueberry), New York’s Chobani Yogurt, and Cabot Creamery.
My plus one and I decided to plan out our journey…Wine first, spirits second, cider third, and then top it off with a few cold beers… Sounds good right? So, I grabbed my engraved Taste of NY glass and sampled the wines. I first meet Lakewood Vineyards in the Finger Lakes and enjoyed a glass of their Bubby Candeo, and swiftly moved on to Dr. Konstantin Frank – which I am a huge fan of since I had their Dry Riesling at the Culinary Institute of America. I was so excited to try their bubbly Chateau Frank Brut, which did not disappoint! From there, I had Johnson Estate’s dessert wine, Pinot Grigio from Wagner Vineyard, and Thirsty Elephant wine from 21 Brix which was phenomenal (and pink). I had a lovely conversation with the owner of Anthony Road Winery and the how generational the winery is and how they allow the younger generation to have some ownership by giving them design control of the labels. Hemann J. Weimer’s Dry Riesling was AMAZING, and the guy behind the table knew which bottle to introduce me to without saying a peep.
After, I tried some spirits. I had to go to the New York Distilling Co., because — well duh– who makes a better gin than Alan Katz? I actually tried the Queen’s Courage gin that is only made at the distillery. That gin could make any gin hater fall in love. Next up, Five & 20 Spirits, which had both rye and bourbon. I was very surprised that I enjoyed the rye over bourbon which is my favorite thing ever. The Finger Lakes Distilling had their McKenzie Whiskeys and mixed us up some enjoyable Manhattans with it in the back.
For ciders, I tried the Brooklyn Cider House, Eve’s Cider, and South Hill Cider. They were all good. The South Hill Cider brewery owner Steve Selin explained the consistency of the product and the about how some apple seasons are rough – especially last year. I tried his Pomme Sur Lie which is dry and still, and crisp!
When I got to the beer, I went for the Yonkers Brewery and tried a few of their brews that I was not quite familiar with. From there I tried some Kings County Brewers Collectives brews, had Ithaca Beer’s famous flower power IPA. I met great brewers such as Abandon Brewing Co, who was so passionate about his beer and brewed a great Saison– might I add. I was awfully surprised that one of my last beer was so delicious. It was the Community Beer Works beer, which I was not expecting to like since it was that color brown that I know it isn’t my favorite. It was so crisp and delicious.
Amazing NY-based foods were also featured. I had kimachi blueberries, which were delightful. Chobani had yogurt drinks that were Pina Colada flavored. All sorts of cheese were on display from cheese curds to bleu cheese and gouda. Mercer’S Wine Ice Cream paired nicely with the drinks and the product that JUST launched that weekend – totally unique. I was able of sample some of Bruce Cost’s famous ginger ale and Red Jacket Fuji Apple helped us take a break from the rough job of sampling.
I’ve been meaning to travel up to upstate wineries, distilleries, and breweries. This was exactly the little taste that I needed to get me in the car!
Learn more about the Taste of New York visit taste.ny.gov