Yesterday was a good day – my first tasting trip into the beautiful hills of the Fingerlakes. The area’s known for its wine, but my crew went straight for the hard stuff at Fingerlakes Distilling. The place is unique in that, while other distilleries focus on one specific type of alcohol, they pump out a huge range of products. Vodka, gin, a bunch of whiskeys, brandies, liqueurs – even grappa (they’ve gotta do something with all the grapes out front).
Still, the variety would be meaningless if it didn’t taste good… and it tasted great. The two standouts were the gin (the best I’ve ever had. Seriously) and the cherry liqueur. Straight up, if you like gin and live in New York go to the liquor store and find Seneca Drums. Last year it was named Best NY Spirit at the NY Wine & Food Classic and I’m not at all surprised – it’s bright and really flavorful. Think Hendrix but more citrusy and smoother. Great taste.
The cherry liquor was the standout in a line of fruit liquors (we tried the cassis and blueberry, too). While the others were really sweet and dark, this was sharp and tangy. Not intentionally sour – more like the tart sweetness of a fresh cherry pie. Super super good.
To make the experience that much more memorable, as we started the tasting, a huge thunderstorm erupted and the power went out. We pretty quickly learned electricity isn’t needed to enjoy good alcohol. In fact, it’s probably an impediment.
After the distillery, the plan was to pretty much just go home. But that’s when we saw a sign for “Two Goats Brewing”, next to it, a dirt road leading to a little old barn. Score. We walked in the barn and saw that it had been renovated (renovated being a generous word here) into a very cool little pub. The beer menu was surprisingly quality, but I was drawn to what I had been hoping to see… on draft (apparently piped in directly from brewery in the basement) were three of their own beers: an IPA, a stout, and a cream ale. I got the IPA and it was way tasty. Really creamy and smooth with the flowery aroma of cascade hops. Not to mention, it was beautiful auburn with a thick gold head (made even prettier by the view of the lake from the pub’s porch).
Like Fingerlakes Distilling, Two Goats Brewing has only been around for one year. Also like the distillery, it was strangely high quality for such a small scale operation. This was my first real opportunity to taste the area’s liquid bounty, and it didn’t disappoint. I can’t wait to check out some wineries soon and see what all the fuss is really about.