At the peak of COVID lockdowns I was pretty bored. Normally, boredom isn’t a problem for me with all the writing, photography, and martial arts as both a career and as hobbies. One of the things I’ve always been interested in is bartending. While I may not be behind the stick anytime soon (but not out of the question!), I do understand flavors and I have been around the bar scene for work and for way too much alcohol consumption. Long story short, one of my purchases early in 2020 was a bunch of professional bartending stuff (shaker, mixing glass, jigger, etc.) to mess around with various bourbon and rye cocktails.
This post is not about my escapades as a pandemic bartender, but it did spark a visit later in the year to a local-ish distillery in Upstate New York for my friend Rob’s birthday.
Going to Tuthilltown Spirits, aka, Hudson Whiskey, came to the forefront when trying to decide what the hell to do during the day with restrictions still in place. Three of us wanted to do something for a good chunk of the day, but safely, and away from Fairfield County. Plus, we love bourbon.
Because of my increased excitement in mixing drinks and I love checking out area distilleries, this was basically my idea. I planted the seed in my friend’s brain, and we made the trek up to Gardiner on what ended up being an 80-degree day in mid-October.
If Tuthilltown isn’t quite giving you an “AHA!” moment, there’s a good chance you’ve seen their bourbon or rye stocked in bars in Fairfield and Westchester counties. Hint: Their label, though rebranded, reads “HUDSON WHISKEY.”
Got it? Good.
During COVID, Tuthilltown has it figured out.
When we went, it was all outdoors. No gift shop entry was permitted but as of this post it has reopened. Their restaurant, Char, was not open. And there were no guided tastings or tours.
Ughhh! I know, it seems not worth it. But it was.
Instead, they had a tent set up with socially distanced ordering rules in place that were easy to follow. You can order everything from self-guided tastings, samples, and cocktails at the tent. From there, find a table somewhere on the property. If one isn’t available, bring your own chair, blanket, or find an old bourbon barrel set up as a table. In addition to tastings and cocktails, you can order a local beer on draft, wine, or hard cider if you’re rocking with someone who went to a distillery to not drink liquor (insert eye roll).
For food, there are snacks like chips and the must-try Fruition chocolate bars. If you require something more substantial, there’s usually a local food truck, but when we went Tuthilltown’s own Char had a set up with everything from asado chicken and other smoked meats. We all couldn’t pass up a slow smoked boneless beef rib with a spicy/smoky sauce. Do not pass this up, as it cuts with a little fork pressure, and practically melts in your mouth. It’s easily one of the best things I ate all year.
I guess the purpose of this post is to tell you to…
GO CHECK IT OUT DESPITE RESTRICTIONS!
Plan it on a nice day or wear a jacket if you have to. The booze and the pleasure of good company will warm your soul. What may begin as a pout because the world is far from what we’re used to can easily turn into a great time if you make due with what you’re given.
I’m already looking forward to a return visit whenever some form of normalcy is restored for a big time “CHEERS!”
14 Grist Mill Lane; Gardiner