A Evening of Craft Spirits With Prohibition-era Trappings


“Here’s to spirit, the rose-colored glasses of life!”

And with that toast, our evening began.


For this weekend, the Bowery Hotel, hosting the fourth annual New York Craft Distillers Festival, had been transformed into an all-night speakeasy, comprising 20 curated premium distillers offering a tasting menu of over 60 types of craft spirits. Attendees had been instructed to come in “modern Gatsby attire” aligning with the Prohibition-era theme pervading the Hotel.

Dancers in flapper dress and Prohibition-style attire
Dancers in flapper dress and Prohibition-style attire

Lining the Bowery Hotel’s cavernous rooms were tables, one for each of the distillers. What was remarkable was the sheer variety of the distillers in attendance and how their tables were set up.

Widow Jane Bourbon’s table featured a miniature oak barrel, with vibrant pomegranate seeds abundantly strewn across the dark tablecloth in between their whiskey fifths.

Widow Jane Heirloom Bourbon Whiskeys on display
Widow Jane Heirloom Bourbon Whiskeys on display

Bluecoat American Dry Gin’s table was lined with Spring flowers, and a multitude of garnishes in handsome copper containers. Harvest Spirits Distillery had their homegrown apples punctuating rows of applejack and peach brandy decanters.

Harvest Spirits Distillery’s Core Vodka and Peach Brandy
Harvest Spirits Distillery’s Core Vodka and Peach Brandy

Each table was its own multicolored microcosm – differing in décor, in barware, and in spirit.

And equally varied were the drinks they served. Among some of the popular offerings were the Earl Grey tea-infused moonshine sours from The Manhattan Moonshine Company, spiced honey cranberries cocktails from KAS Krupnikas, and Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueurs.

The KASaloma: KAS Krupnikas, ruby red grapefruit juice, seltzer
The KASaloma: KAS Krupnikas, ruby red grapefruit juice, seltzer

As the Hotel began to fill up with the hundred or so guests, an array of performances commenced as a backdrop to the speakeasy itself. First, there were swing-dancing duos, whose jitterbug was a dialogue with the lively jazz band.

Then, a sequined aerialist performed, suspended ten-feet into the air, orbiting a wide, metal hoop. Closing the performances was burlesque by Lady Alchemy, whose sultry act seemed to put some men of weaker constitutions in reverie.

Burlesque by Lady Alchemy
Burlesque by Lady Alchemy

To drink well is to drink leisurely.

In that spirit, in between cocktails and performances, we periodically stopped for water to cleanse the palate, or stepped outside to enjoy the Spring air on the vine-enveloped terrace.

  Taking a pause on the terrace
 Taking a pause on the terrace

As we circumnavigated the looping path between the Hotel’s rooms, we made stops at every table – if not to drink, then to learn. What was most impressive was not the quality of the drink or the décor or the ambiance, but rather the passion with which each proprietor described the history of their businesses, their unique processes, their special crafts. Some were family-run businesses. Some boasted fair-trade and organic ingredients. Some had limited production runs, with each bottle serially numbered. Most took cash.

It is said that the sway of liquor over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour.

How apt is it, then, that I should wake up the next morning to the sobering fact that I had left the Bowery Hotel, having bought a case-worth’s of spirits that night.

Great for: Those who are particular about their drinks; great for collectors seeking limited edition liquors.

We were guests at the NY Craft Distillers Festival, however, the opinions are our own. 


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