“Sweet Spot,” by Mike Sugerman

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Steven DeAngelo was not in good spirits a few years ago.
His job in finance was on the rocks.

“Waking up in the morning and not wanting to go to work – that’s a pretty bad way to live your life, especially when your 29 years old,” he says.

Life was barreling by. So he poured his heart and soul into a new passion.

“It’s nice being excited about going to work the next day,” he says.

Work? He makes gin at the distillery he started with his brother, Philip four years ago – Greenhook Ginsmiths.

Craft beer has been a thing for a while. Now, craft spirits are coming on strong.

There are 1,300 now in the United States, selling $2.4 billion worth of booze. That’s up 25 percent a year for the past five years.

Nowhere is the craze stronger than in the borough of Brooklyn. There are 15 craft distillers – the most in the state of New York and among the most anywhere in the country.

It’s the hippest place to get involved in the hippest movement in the liquor industry.

“There’s lots of old industrial buildings along the edges, along the different waterways, and they make for a great amount of space at a good price for these guys to set up both their stills and their storage facilities,” says Scott Henkle, with the Brooklyn Wine Exchange.

“In a place like Brooklyn, you have a lot of people who are willing to pay a little bit more for a product that they know a little bit more about, that’s made better,” Steven adds.

The main ingredient in gin is the juniper berry.

Steven enjoys playing with different flavors and botanicals to see if gin can taste like anything else. His research and development lead him to a beach plum flavor made from a fruit found on the coast of Long Island and down the Eastern Seaboard.

“In fact, we’ve got a group of New York distillers that just recently formed a new style of rye called Empire Rye, where they are exclusively using all New York grains,” says Henkle.

Steven joins a former underwear model, Wall Street financier and others in Brooklyn who have changed their lives and are changing the spirits industry – taking their shot one shot at a time.

Find more from the “Sweet Spot” here.


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