Next time you travel downtown, look for Brooklyn’s on Boulder St., one of the few haberdasheries listed in this town. Underneath silk ties hanging from displays, it seems like the strangest place to find yourself waiting to be seated. Ring the doorbell, and inside you’ll find a gin distillery behind their fabrics.
Lee Spirits Co. has a minimalist tavern vibe, complete with a coat rack and wraparound bar. With the open seating area, wood tables, wooden floors, and 1930s upholstery, it exudes the air of wanting to be older. Books line the staircase, with feathered fountain pens balanced on top, framing the bar with their own brands of gin, mixers, and cocktail ingredients.
The rules of Lee Spirits are on the cover of their menu, complete with one to avoid unwanted people hitting on you. Instead, people wishing to speak with strangers talk through the bartenders. The rest of the menu is difficult to navigate alone. Some sections describe the contents of drinks, while others remain mysterious with pun-filled descriptions.
Because they specialize in gin, a good number of cocktails that you might normally order are missing from the menu, but the bartenders have extensive knowledge of their creation’s flavors and can easily suggest a gin equivalent. Junior Emma Sargent wasn’t quite sure what to order, and when she asked for a recommendation, the bartender recited all the flavors that come into play for each drink he mentioned. Deciding on “The Smuggler,” Sargent agreed that it was very close to what was described, “but after a while, it just tastes good.”
While the quiet atmosphere, helpful staff, and location of Lee Spirits Company are all great, the real winners of this place are their house-made products. Going out to a bar can be expensive, and with cocktails priced from $8-$12, they need to be special. The cocktails of most bars could be made for a much lower price at home, but this speakeasy makes all of the contents of their cocktails, creating a drinking experience that can’t be replicated.
However, if you don’t have the time to go out to their hidden location, this local distillery can still be supported. Weber Street Liquor and Coaltrain Wine and Spirits carry some of their products, including Dry Gin, Lavender Gin, Strawberry Ginger Gin, Ginfuego, Alpine Liqueur, and more. It won’t be the same, but it can still add some local flavor to your drink of choice.
Intoxicated Poolside Afternoon: This drink seems to be a delightful twist on a Long Island Iced Tea. Instead of a collaboration of different liquors, it mostly contains Lee Spirits Co.’s strawberry ginger gin. In addition to the great name, this cocktail has subtle tones of strawberry and a light-bitter aftertaste. It’s easy to drink, not overbearing, and overall very relaxing. For those that don’t normally enjoy gin, I would suggest trying this drink that manages to incorporate the dry crispness of the liquor into a refreshing experience, topped with a lemon wedge.
Bee’s Knees: One of the most popular cocktails on their menu, this one lives up to its name. Their Bee’s Knees concoction includes Lee Spirits Co.’s lavender gin, with honey and lemon, then shaken with ice before serving. This drink reminds me of a tequila sour—it is quite sweet but retains an interesting floral palate. The lavender gin mixed well with the lemon juice too, creating tartness underneath the foamy top. Unless you have a sweet tooth when it comes to cocktails, I would be wary about ordering this drink because the sweetness of the honey covers up a lot of the gin flavor. So, if you are more interested in their lavender gin made with actual dried lavender and not just concentrated oil, I would suggest ordering that alone.