It’s a lulling autumn day in Red Hook. The air is warm and still, and it’s very quiet — the loudest sound is my bicycle tires thumping on the cobblestones. I’m looking for a cocoa factory. I find the building, but I can’t find any chocolate.
This is not upsetting because once through the wide open doors a young woman in work boots and frizzy tied back hair tosses me a couple of whiskey samples before asking what it is I want. “Cocoa powder” I say. “Sorry. Whiskey’s all we got”.
Turns out the owners have changed horses in midstream and now distill bourbon and rye whiskey — no more chocolate.
The factory vibe is of a school on summer recess, but there are plenty of bottles displayed here and there, in fact there are bottles of many sizes on every hand and they all are filled with whiskey in colors ranging from pale honey to deep amber.
Red Hook abounds with places like this. 150-year-old factory buildings now house businesses making chocolate, whiskey, Steve’s Key Lime Pies, or house interesting looking restaurants and grocery stores.
But I never see many people, unless it’s late at night, like at Sunny’s, formerly mafia owned. The infamous mafioso boss, Joey Gallo, claimed the streets of Red Hook as his own. To defend them he kept a lion and a huge cache of guns. He was shot dead at Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy.
The distillery offers tours which are followed by tasting flights.