A journey down an unfamiliar country road can be unpredictable. You may stumble upon any number of great finds, be charmed by local flavor or fall hard for the warm welcome of people eager to share knowledge of their little corner of the world.
Recently, on a visit with my sister in the Catskill region we decided to take a drive to visit the Woodstock museum in Bethel, NY. After a chilly ride up the mountain what was intended as a quick stop for brunch at The Dancing Cat Saloon ended up as an afternoon adventure, complete with a feast for all five senses.
Bustling in from the cold at the saloon we soaked in the sounds of a smooth jazz trio that performs weekly, along with a number of other musical and special events. While waiting for our food I checked out the drink list compiled of local craft beers and cocktails, noticing many were made with spirits created in the next building by the same couple that own the saloon. Finishing up our tasty brunch we decided to take a quick detour to see what was going on in the distillery.
The Dancing Cat Saloon and Catskill Distilling Co. are the brainchild of Monte Sachs, a former specialist in equine medicine and Stacy Sachs, an artistic woman overflowing with spunky energy. Their imagination and vision is quickly transforming into a destination for lovers of whiskey, music, art and great food!
The vast selection of spirits featured at their farm distillery include Vodka, Gin, Bourbon, Rye, Grappa and a rare style of whiskey made from buckwheat. All are created using Catskill mountain water, NY state grown grains, local fruit or botanicals grown on site. Barrel aged offerings are done in charred American oak, resting in a climate controlled environment for minimum of two years. Chilled filtering is not practiced here as Monte feels that although using this method may produce a crystal clear appearance it strips depth and flavor from the finished product.
Monte’s attention to detail and dedication to perfecting the optimum tasting experience is apparent. Upon entering the beautiful, massive wood tasting bar ( a vintage find from the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens, NY) drew my attention to the tasting selection. A glass wall separating the production facility from the tasting room allowed me to see the gleaming metal stills imported from Germany in action.
Sipping on my favorite choice in the tasting, Catskill’s Defiant Rye, I was blown away by the layers of aroma and flavor present. Honeyed nuts, sweet spice, baked apple and hints of bananas foster wafted up from my glass! Without a doubt it is a dangerously delicious tipple, straight up with a slash of water or mixed into this cocktail I created to compliment its flavor profile.
Defiant Ginger Apple Smash