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19 booze tours in New York City

Get your buzz on with a tour of these New York City alcohol purveyors, including breweries, wineries and distilleries

Brooklyn Brewery
Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith
By Annalise Mantz and Hannah Norwick |
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Look past the endless assortment of beer bars, wine bars and dive bars in NYC, and instead sign up for one of these booze tours in New York City. There’s nothing like sipping your beverage of choice right from the source: the brewery, distillery or winery where it was made. Most of these cheap (or free!) tours allow you to get a behind-the-scenes look at the production process, taste some of the wares and maybe even learn a thing or two. We’re getting thirsty just thinking about it. What are you waiting for, boozehounds?

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to NYC tours

Breweries

The Bronx Brewery
Photograph: Courtesy The Bronx Brewery
Bars, Breweries

The Bronx Brewery

icon-location-pin The Bronx

New York state was once the largest producer of hops in the United States, but over the last century, the great beer-making tradition lost some steam. This brewery brought it back to the Bronx in 2011, where they’ve been doling out pours of their signature Bronx Pale Ale and seasonal varietals ever since. Stop by on Saturdays and Sundays for free tours at 1:30pm, 3:30pm and 5:30pm. When the weather’s warm, you can even sip your pint outside in the brewery’s backyard. Sounds like the ideal Sunday afternoon to us. Free

Brooklyn Brewery
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kevin Gessner
Bars, Breweries

Brooklyn Brewery

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

It’s always beer-thirty at this stalwart New York brewery. Thirsty drinkers can drop in for one of its two-hour guided tasting tours on weekdays or gratis ten-minute walkthroughs on weekends. During the former, you’ll sip four beers—including seasonal and rare Brewmaster’s Reserve pours. Don’t worry, you can still imbibe during the freebie tour by nabbing a pint ($5, five for $20) in the tasting room. During your stroll, peep the eight fermentation tanks that were shipped over from Germany, each holding up to 45,000 pints at a time. The tasting room is currently undergoing a reservation, so all tours and tastings are on hold until May 23. $18 for a Small Batch tour; basic tours are free

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kevin Gessner

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 The Flagship Brewing Co.
Photograph: Courtesy Mike Shane Photography.
Bars, Breweries

The Flagship Brewing Co.

icon-location-pin Staten Island

A hops' throw from the Ferry terminal, this Staten Island brewery run by Harpoon vet Patrick Morse and former Phoenix beer distributor Jay Sykes was the first to bring brewing back to the borough, which has been brewery-free since Piels closed its plant in the 1960s. Cool down after the ferry ride with tall mugs of the award-winning IPA, full-bodied Metropolitan Lager and other seasonal suds in the taproom. On Saturdays, boozehounds can pay $5 for a tour and tasting at either 2:30 or 4pm. $5

Bars, Breweries

Interboro Spirits & Ales

Though this distillery-brewery combo doesn’t offer in-house tours, you can get VIP access to the production process on a City Brew Tour. Keep an eye out for collaborations with local breweries like Threes and Transmitter Brewing, as well as more unorthodox partners like rap duo Run the Jewels. On the spirits side, Interboro’s canned Goodwin Hill Gin and Tonic has already carved out a local following since its introduction early last year. $115 for the Original Brew Tour from City Brew Tours

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Zandy Mangold
Bars, Breweries

Rockaway Brewing Company

icon-location-pin Long Island City

Though this brewery was born as a homebrewing project in its namesake Rockaway Beach, owners Ethan Long and Marcus Burnett set up their professional digs in Long Island City in 2012. Drop by the Queens brewery and taproom (or their new Rockaway location) to try favorites like the Nitro Black Gold Stout or Original ESB Craft Ale. See how the sausage gets made on one of the many free tours: Fridays at 6pm, Saturdays at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 6pm, Sundays at 3pm and 5pm. And if you find something you love, you can always buy a growler ($25 for a 64-ounce growler, $12 for a 32-ounce growler) to take it to go. Free

SingleCut Beersmiths
Photograph: Courtesy SingleCut Beersmiths
Bars, Breweries

SingleCut Beersmiths

icon-location-pin Astoria

Queens, a borough laden with beer makers before Prohibition, returns to its frothy roots with its first full-scale brewery in decades. The 30-barrel brew house has a taproom outfitted with lagering tanks, a stage for live music and refillable growlers for purchase ($8–$12 for an empty growler). SingleCut hosts free 30-minute tasting tours each Sunday at 5pm, when you can sample the solely-brewed-in-Astoria beers, including the 19-33 Pilsner and the Softly Spoken Magic Spells IIPA. Free

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Bars, Breweries

Transmitter Brewing

icon-location-pin Long Island City

This six-barrel brewery and tasting room in Long Island City integrates unique strains of yeast from their brewery “library” into farmhouse-style suds, like Brett Pale Ale and Gin Barrel Golden Ale. It sells beer in bottles instead of on draft, so come with a group of friends and buy a few varieties to share in the production-facility-cum-bar. Tours here are a more casual affair—just ask an employee to show you the digs on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Casual tours only

Distilleries

Cacao Prieto
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/dlovins99
Shopping, Chocolate and candy

Cacao Prieto

icon-location-pin Red Hook

Listen up, chocoholics: This Red Hook chocolatier has a way for you to satisfy your sweet tooth and get your buzz on at the same time. Cacao Prieto applies the same single-origin, bean-to-bar philosophy it uses to make organic chocolate bars to its cacao rum and liqueur. Regular public tours—which include a tasting flight of both the chocolate and spirits—happen every Saturday and Sunday at noon, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. $20

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/dlovins99

Greenhook Ginsmiths
Photograph: Courtesy Groupon

Greenhook Ginsmiths

This isn’t the run-of-the-mill stuff you find doused with tonic in dive bars. Greenhook Ginsmiths relies on a custom-made copper still and unique vacuum distilling process to preserve the delicate aromas of juniper, elderflower and chamomile. Reserve a spot in an hourlong tour any Saturday at 2:30pm to meet the ginsmiths and taste all three of the intriguing spirits: American Dry Gin, Beach Plum Gin Liqueur and Old Tom Gin. $20 for two people

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Industry City Distillery
Photograph: Courtesy Industry City Distillery
Bars, Breweries

Industry City Distillery

icon-location-pin Greenwood

Industry City, a group of repurposed waterfront warehouses that until 1974 was called Bush Terminal, houses this Brooklyn distillery built by five pals, all newbies in the alcohol industry. Plunk down $5 to join a tour every Saturday at 3pm. You will spot house-made items like a $3,000 yeast propagator tank that normally retails for more than $300,000 and a letterpress for bottle labels. Along with the golden Willy Wonka–inspired ticket you receive with your tour, you’ll also have a chance to taste the goods. $5

Kings County Distillery
Photograph: Courtesy Kings County Distillery
Bars

Kings County Distillery

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Navy Yard

This whiskey distillery pumps handcrafted, organic-corn-based moonshines and bourbons in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s 119-year-old Paymaster Building. Using only New York grain, old-school distilling practices (for example, aging whiskey for at least 14 months in charred-oak barrels) and minimal packaging, Kings County Distillery harkens back to a pre-Prohibition NYC. The hourlong tour grants admission to the “Boozeum,” which displays old photos and newspaper clippings about NYC’s distilling history, and includes three slugs of the hard stuff. $14.84

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New York Distilling Company
Photograph: Alex Patterson
Bars, Cocktail bars

New York Distilling Company

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

Visitors to this Williamsburg craft distillery can enjoy a guided tasting of spirits like the Perry’s Tot 114-proof Navy Strength Gin (one of the few navy-strength gins produced in the country) and the Dorothy Parker American Gin (a contemporary-style gin infused with elderberry and dried hibiscus petals). Free tours happen every Saturday at 2:30pm, 3:30pm and 5pm, but boozehounds who don't want to fight the crowds can shell out an extra $30 for the VIP tours at 1:30pm on Saturdays and Sunday. Since your ticket comes with a complimentary cocktail and 200-millileter flask of rye, it's actually a pretty sweet deal. $30 for a VIP tour; basic tours are free 

The Noble Experiment
Photograph: Courtesy Nick Johnson of All Good NYC
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Noble Experiment

icon-location-pin East Williamsburg

There’s a definite retro feel to this East Williamsburg rum distillery: "The Noble Experiment" was once a nickname for the 18th Amendment, while the name of the distillery's flagship rum honors Owen “Owney” Madden, a notorious bootlegger. That white, unaged rum is the distillery's sole spirit, but it's an unusual one: Owney's is cold-fermented for a whole five days. Join a one-hour tour each Friday at 3pm to learn about the production process and taste the distinctive rum straight up. $10

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Port Morris Distillery
Photograph: Courtesy Groupon

Port Morris Distillery

Adventurous drinkers must head up to the Bronx to taste this tiny distillery’s little known spirit: pitorro, a Puerto Rican moonshine made from sugar cane. This stuff is strong—92 proof—and comes from an old family recipe that master distiller (and tio to founder Ralph Barbosa) Rafael Rodriguez brought with him from Puerto Rico. Sample both the original pitorro and pitorro anejo aged in wooden barrels on a tour of the facilities. $12 for two people

Van Brunt Stillhouse
Photograph: Courtesy Van Brunt Stillhouse
Things to do, Sport events

Van Brunt Stillhouse

icon-location-pin Red Hook

This Red Hook spot brings spirits like New York grain whiskey, Due North rum and rye  moonshine back to the borough where they were once heavily produced. Investigate the process behind copper-pot distilling before concluding the tour with a taste of the good stuff. If you like what you taste, you're in luck: The tour ticket gets you a $10 discount on any bottle. $10

Wineries

Brooklyn Winery
Photograph: Rima Campbell
Bars, Wine bars

Brooklyn Winery

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

The thorough behind-the-scenes tours at this Williamsburg winery also include a curated tasting of a variety of wines at the bar. Our tip? Ask about their award-winning vintages, like the 2013 Cabernet Franc made from grapes grown on the North Fork of Long Island and the Finger Lakes–grown 2014 Riesling, which the winemakers expect to continue to age well until at least 2024. $35

Bars, Wine bars

City Winery

icon-location-pin West Village

For 35 bones, embark on a tour and tasting at this Soho restaurant, bar and live music venue. Tours include a sneak peek of the barrel room as well as a taste of unfinished wine and a flight of three wines on tap paired with a seasonal cheese plate. Oenophiles will be happy to know that City Winery offers tours seven days a week at 4pm. $35

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Red Hook Winery
Photograph: Michael Anstendig

Red Hook Winery

Red Hook has become a stronghold of the Brooklyn DIY food and drink movement, with artisanal chocolate, vermouth and other goodies spilling from the cobblestoned community. In 2008, the ’hood upped its quota of locally sourced fare with the opening of Red Hook Winery, which uses exclusively New York State grapes to make riesling, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc and other wines. Stop by on weekends to enjoy a tasting ($15 for four pours) and a complimentary 15-minute tour of the facilities, or book a private barrel tasting and tour. $35 for a barrel tasting and tour 

Rooftop Reds
Photograph: Courtesy Rooftop Reds
Things to do, Event spaces

Rooftop Reds

icon-location-pin Downtown Brooklyn

As if you needed more proof of the city’s obsession with rooftops, consider Rooftop Reds, the first commercially viable rooftop vineyard in the world. The open-air bar in the Brooklyn Navy Yard boasts hammocks, skyline views and reasonably priced wines by the glass or bottle. Sign up for the weekly tour on Wednesdays at 7pm to find out how one makes wine on a roof and sample wine and cheese pairings. $25

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