Brooklyn is quickly becoming hipper than Manhattan, although most visitors flock only to Williamsburg. While Red Hook may be lesser-known, it’s worth learning about—especially its delicious artisan culture. The experience begins with the journey. Skip the subway and hop on the IKEA water taxi (which is free on weekends) from Pier 11. Once in the neighborhood, there are a number of decadent stops you won’t want to miss.
Booze and chocolate come together in this cozy, aromatic space lined with machinery that makes single-origin 72% Dark bars and antioxidant-rich spirits. For example, Cacao Prieto owner and aerospace engineer Daniel Prieto Preston developed the Vortex Winnower (which looks like it belongs in a mad scientist’s lab) to efficiently separate the sweet cacao nibs from their bitter shells. Remember, this isn’t just a shop and bar, but a factory, where you can enjoy tours, tastings, and flights of their spirits. Pair a non-GMO-corn-made bourbon with their pecan and sour cherry bar, or rum crafted from organic cane sugar and Dominican family-farm-sourced cacao with hazelnut and raisin. Cacao Prieto is not just a pretty taste: they’re currently working to design a carbon neutral—or possibly carbon negative—facility.
Raaka Chocolate Factory
And the chocolate decadence doesn’t stop there. Walk into the waterfront Raaka Chocolate Factory to wander through chocolate production rooms, viewing giant sacks of beans, machines grinding and mixing ingredients, and melted chocolate transforming into its familiar solid—and deliciously edible—form. The best way to experience Raaka Chocolate Factory is with a guided tour and tasting for two. Imagine taking a 45-minute tour through the space, your nostrils filling with the captivating scent of organic un-roasted chocolate, flavors of saffron, cranberry, bourbon, maple, and coconut melting over your palate as you savor the creations.
Red Hook Winery
You know what pairs well with chocolate? Wine. With cacao goodness lingering on your tongue, traipse over to Red Hook Winery to truly understand how delicious New York State is. Your knowledgeable host pours you glasses of Split Rock Vineyard Cabernet Franc and Seneca Lake Riesling that you can savor through a structured tasting or while leaning against a wine barrel table—staring out over the Upper New York Bay and nibbling on aged cheeses. Take the tour of the space and learn firsthand exactly how they make the reds, whites, and roses (yes, you can sip those, too).
Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies
Take a trip to the Florida Keys without leaving Brooklyn at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. Enter and inhale the tangy scent of fresh Key limes growing around the shop. Picture dipping your fork into a creamy slice, a refreshingly tart kick enveloping your taste buds, balanced by a lingering sweetness. The graham cracker crust crumbles in your mouth, and by the time you reach the adjacent pier to look out over the water while you eat, the slice is already gone. Along with their traditional 5-ingredient pies—made from scratch in small batches using a whisk and ladle instead of modern machinery—you can chow down on their Swingles: Key lime pie drenched in dark semi-sweet Belgian chocolate tempered with 100 percent organic coconut oil and frozen. Funny how everything always seems to come back around to chocolate.