Our/Vodka has opened micro-distilleries in Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Detroit and Los Angeles, each producing its own city-specific spirit. Now, it’s New York’s turn.
On Friday, Our/New York opened in Chelsea at 151 W. 26th St., with a tasting room, bar and shop.
Following the opening of the first Our/Vodka distillery in Berlin in 2013, New York was planned to be the second. But city real estate, zoning, permitting and licensing being what it is, it’s now the sixth.
“It turned out to be so complicated,” Our/Vodka founder Åsa Caap says. “Of course, there’s a lot of safety measures that go into a product like this in Manhattan. Luckily we had no idea. I don’t think we would have tried [laughs].”
But not opening in New York wasn’t an option.
“It’s the capital of the world,” says Caap, who is based in Stockholm. “It was our dream from the beginning.”
Though it is the sixth brand, Our/New York does have the distinction as the first legal distillery to open in Manhattan since Prohibition.
The distillery started producing its vodka in mid-May, with the production process taking about a day and a half. The first run made enough for more than 2,100 bottles.
“We really took our time to make sure everything was done right,” says Our/New York partner Dave Ortiz. “It’s really important that our first batch is absolutely correct because it’s such a big deal.”
All the Our/Vodka spirits use the same wheat-based distillate from Sweden (“That is the secret sauce,” Ortiz says). But otherwise the ingredients are localized, from the wheat or corn base to the water.
Our/NewYork is made from a corn-based ethanol and, of course, New York City tap water, which is 60 percent of the product.
“We all say our water is the best,” says Ortiz, an East New York native who now lives in the East Village. “We do make the best pizza and the best bagels.”
The resulting New York-made vodka has a slight floral note, is 80 proof and costs $22.99 a bottle.
“The taste profile of all our vodka is that it’s just smooth and clean vodka,” Caap says.
Of the Our/Vodka family — which is owned by Pernod Ricard — only the New York vodka will be available at the distillery’s bar. It’ll be used in cocktails, including several martinis, on a menu from bar manager Rustun Nichols, a veteran of the Wythe Hotel.
Spirits by other local craft distilleries will be stocked behind the bar, including Kings County Distillery, Greenhook Ginsmiths and Van Brunt Stillhouse.
“It’s not just a run-of-the-mill bar where you can get a Maker’s Mark or whatever,” Ortiz says. “When you come here, you’re going to get something special.”
For snacks, Ortiz brought on friend Medwin Pang, of Flatbush restaurant Hunger Pang, to create a menu that reflects the “basic New York City food group”: pulled beef sliders, for burgers; flatbreads, for pizza; and hot dogs in a blanket.
“We cover all the New York items,” Ortiz says.
In addition to visiting the bar or shop, guests can schedule tours of the distillery. Ortiz, an artist, also eventually plans to showcase local artist work and hold events, including an upcoming cookbook release party for Superiority Burger’s Brooks Headley.
“It’s all about us being local,” Ortiz says. “This place is a platform for people to do things like that.”
More homegrown hooch
Our/New York is the latest addition to NYC’s vibrant distillery scene:
- Kings County Distillery: New York’s first distillery since Prohibition is known for its bourbon and chocolate whiskey. The Brooklyn Navy Yard facility is open for tours and has a tasting room, The Gatehouses.
- Industry City Distillery: Until Our/New York, the Sunset Park distillery was the only vodka maker in the city. Find tours and tastings Saturdays at 3 p.m.
- Breuckelen Distilling: The small-batch maker of artisanal gin and whiskey distills its products in Greenwood Heights and matures its whiskeys in East New York.
- New York Distilling Company: Gin is the bulk of what’s made by the Williamsburg distillery, which offers free tours on weekends and has a full-service bar, Shanty.
- Interboro Spirits and Ales: As the name implies, Interboro is part distillery, part brewery. On the spirits end, that includes gin, whiskey and brandy. The East Williamsburg facility features a taproom.
- The Noble Experiment: The Bushwick distillery makes Owney’s Rum.
- MÔTÔ Spirits: This Bushwick motorcycle shop makes small-batch rice whiskey.
- Widow Jane Distillery: Whiskey and bourbon are the focus of this Red Hook distillery.
- Cacao Prieto: Widow Jane shares space with this maker of rum and cacao liqueur (and chocolate!). Tours are available on weekends.
- Van Brunt Stillhouse: Mostly whiskey made by a former “Daily Show” editor. The Red Hook distillery hosts tours and has a tasting room.
- Uncouth Vermouth: The vermouth is made in Red Hook using grown and foraged ingredients.
- Greenhook Ginsmiths: This Greenpoint distillery makes its gin in a custom copper pot still. Tours are offered on Saturdays.
- Astoria Distilling Company: The distillery is behind the gin Queens Courage.
- Port Morris Distillery: The Bronx distillery specializes in Pitorro, the moonshine of Puerto Rico. The Port Morris space offers free tours and tastings.