How We’re Going to Save America, One Small Batch At A Time

We’ll be the first to admit that we were WAY behind the artisinal movement. Less than 12 months ago we were still using Tide detergent, Heinz Ketchup and Kleenex Kleenex. But then we moved to Williamsburg and all of that changed. Now I’m writing this on a hand crafted Apple laptop produced in small batches in a warehouse in East Williamsburg which might be Bushwick but like whatever because Bushwick is the new Williamsburg.

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This illustration from NY Mag shows a lot of Artisinal small batch stuff you didn’t know you needed. But now you absolutely need it. 

  For those of you reading that are unfamiliar with Williamsburg, its the epicenter of America’s revitalization and therefore the most important place on earth. It also has sick sick dive and cocktail bars that all seem to be serving $1 oysters. (Williamsburgians care a great deal about small batch ice cream but care very little about decimating the eastern seaboard’s oyster population). As the NYtimes has so many times and so eloquently pointed out, everything that’s happening in Williamsburg should be duplicated all around America to revitalize the economy. If there isn’t a coffee shop/cupcake shop/vintage boutique/craft beer hall in your city, you need to open this. The barrier to entry is so low dude, all you need is like 2 friends and a warehouse.

Say what you will future President Romney and future past President Obama, but manufacturing on a large scale is not the answer to cure America’s ills. (Manufacturing is this thing that usually takes place in “Factories” which is an out dated American term similar to “sock hop” and “hand written notes”. Ask your parents if you are confused).

The way America is going to retain its position as the #1 global superpower is with baby batches. Not baby steps. Small baby sized batches of stuff. Everyone in American needs to start battening down the hatches and get their artisinal production on. Reclaim some wood, sew some duvet covers, reduce some liquid into sauce and for the love of Christ, open an etsy account.

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Since we like to lead by example, we are starting a brand new Sussman Brothers branded venture with the Clinton County Correctional Facility, one of NY state’s finest and its largest Maximum Security prison. Located in upstate New York nestled amongst the beauty that is the American countryside, the inmates of Clinton County are turning out the best small batches of Pruno we’ve ever drank. For those of you out there who don’t read Lucky Peach, Pruno is toilet wine and it’s about to go underground mainstream which is the best type of way to go mainstream. It’ll be the LCD Soundsystem of adult beverages. So after much back and forth with the warden, we are happy to announce our new company which is going to revitalize America one small batch at a time. It is called…drum roll please:

Clinton County Correctional Distillery 

Our first batch is a 2012 vintage with hints of bruised apples, bulk in bulk oranges, Sprite, wonderbread, Splenda and ketchup. At 14% it’s similar in alcohol content to a great summer rose. Perfect for sipping on your patio or fire escape it also pairs brilliantly with fish or poultry. They are retailing for $60 each and come in really cool reclaimed Gatorade bottles that are perfect for decorating your apartment after you drink the pruno. Each label is hand drawn and numbered by the inmates.

Our Facility: 

ImageWe are certified by the state of New York and our production facility is tossed every day for anything that could dilute the purity of our product. You could probably drink the product directly out of the distilling bowl it’s so clean in there!

We have to admit our production schedule is a bit shaky since our master craftsman has a bad temper and is currently in solitary confinement, but we expect to have another batch delivered by August 2nd. We are accepting online orders and inquiries now!

For more information and ordering please visit: www.ClintonCorrectionalDistillery.com 

We get drunk at 3pm all in the name of gift giving research

Even if you are looking for The Whiskey Shop, you may still walk past it. Tucked right next to the Whiskey Brooklyn Bar the place is basically a closet. There is enough counter space to accommodate 2-3 people and behind the counter on floor to ceiling shelving is booze. No cheese, no fancy chocolates. Only booze. The usual suspects are present (it is of course a store not a museum) but there was a ton of stuff we’d never heard of. We were at the store on an actual mission – Max was looking for a gift for the chef of Fatty Cue since we were heading in for dinner that evening. (Max is a classy dude so he’s never empty handed when rolling into a place for dinner where he knows the kitchen.)

What is exceptionally enjoyable about working in a kitchen is that sometimes, when everyone else is sitting behind a desk running sales figures dreading that next meeting, zoning out on Facebook dreading that next meeting or in a food coma from lunch dreading that next meeting, Max and I have the day off and we are heading into a store that sells whiskey to sit around and drink for a while.

 We saddled up to the bar and just started talking about Whiskey. It was a historical, scientific and economics rich discussion that covered proofing, distribution channels, southern vs. northern operations, why Oregon makes crap whiskey and a myriad of other whiskey based info. We learned more in the first 5 minutes than we’d known about whiskey in our entire life prior to entering the shop.

With the extremely knowledgable shopkeep Jonathan Wingo on the ready and Bon Iver on vinyl serenading us, things were sufficiently classy enough to begin some daytime whiskey consumption.

 First off was the Willett. I’m a sucker for a bottle that hand writes the Barrel number. I don’t care if its a new trend or perhaps every small distillery does this, but the personalization it lends each bottle is enough to make me shy away from the mass producers (ed. Note – we will never in our life turn down any kind of whiskey – let’s just make that perfectly clear).  The Willet had no end finish and was spicy up front. While we enjoyed the small taste we had, we agreed that the spice up front was a bit much. We ust didn’t see it as our gift choice or breaking into our own regular sipping rotation.

Next up we tried a new make. This was shipped to the shop keep from a distillery that makes product  Whiskey Shop already carries. This bottle, filled with clear liquid had yet to touch a barrel. Closer to White Lightning than to the final amber colored product, we sipped it and really enjoyed the shit out of it. Our man behind the counter placed a small cup in middle of us so we could dump any remainders from our taste glasses. This seemed responsible considering it was 3:30pm on a Wednesday and we were essentially drinking moonshine.

Next up we tried a single malt Balcones labeled at 53.5%. We learned that distilleries batches are tested and they can face heavy fines for mislabeling (and misleading) about the alcohol content. The proofing of the booze is a process that is mastered over time by distillers. It takes patience, skill and a lot of trial and error to get your product the way you want it time and time again.

Our fourth (fifth? We were getting a bit drunk) taste was Corner Creek Bourbon that had no age statement (so 2-6 years the shop keep told us) that was smooth with no end spice. It was a relaxed drink that worked excellent straight up. It would mix well if desired. We both enjoyed it and it instantly became our potential purchase.

But before any decision would be made, more drinking had to occur.

We circled back to Balcones and tried the Baby Blue, which is a young roasted blue corn whiskey. Balcones uses old wood for its barrel – its toasted with little char over a long period of time. This process of toasting the barrel wood, imparts flavor to the liquid and greatly affects the outcome of the product.  The taste was crisp and the blue corn flavor actually came through which removed any gimmicky stigma one might think upon first picking up the bottle. If we were stocking our apartment with an epic bar outside of the realm of essentials for cocktails, Baby Blue would be tops on our list.  This is a whiskey for someone who keeps a 7-10 bottle rotation at his or her place.

 For our final pour, our fine whiskey tour guide unveiled the Balcone Brimstone. It was everything he said it would be. Max said it best, “this is like drinking a campfire.” This corn whiskey  (53%) was a bottle of smoky smoky goodness. Also made with blue corn, its not for an everyday drink. But if you were on the trail of an outlaw across the plains and needed some warming through a rainstorm (or if you were just reading Dwell on your couch in Park Slope in winter) a finger of this would warm up your insides faster than a Filson blanket every could.

Stop by The Whiskey Shop and let Jonathan Wingo impart some of his Whiskey wisdom. You’ll leave with the right bottle whether it’s for a gift or for yourself. (We left happy and boozed up with a bottle of Corner Creek Bourbon). Let us know in the comments anything you’ve been drinking these days you think we should try. We’re always on the lookout for new bottles.