Archive for April, 2011

Field Trip Friday: Kings County Distillery

Last Saturday afternoon, OHNY staffer Hae-In went on a tour of the Kings County Distillery, in Bushwick. The first distillery to operate within the borders of New York City since the Prohibition era, Kings County Distillery produces both corn and bourbon whiskey.

copper-lined stills

With the legacy of Prohibition, it used to be quite cost prohibitive to open a distillery. In 2002, New York launched the class D distilling permit, an inexpensive license that has made it much easier for small-scale liquor producers to make up to 35,000 proof-gallons of liquor per year. To boost New York’s agriculture industry, the law also requires that the majority of ingredients must come from New York farmers. Kings County Distillery gets their organic cracked corn, the main ingredient in both moonshine and bourbon, from the Finger Lakes region.


Although they did not have any prior distilling experience, Colin Spoelman and David Haskell got the operation (named after Brooklyn’s county) licensed in April 2010 and have been making small batches of moonshine and bourbon in the industrial building shared by graphic designers, photographers, recording studios and even a local jerky company. Although the moonshine is sold in about 20 or so liquor stores throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan, their bourbon is only available at their facility.

corn, malted barley and yeast fermenting

The tour, while short, was very informative and went through the different steps of making whiskey, starting with the cracked corn which gets boiled in a stockpot. When it reaches 165 degrees they add malted barley and the yeast goes in after reaching room temperature. There are only 5-6 strains of yeast that can be used to make whiskey. This mixture then goes into tubs to ferment before getting distilled.

making whiskey

The whiskey is distilled twice. The first transforms the liquid into “low wine” and then the second is when it forms into whiskey. The second distillation, or the “heart” of the run, is the trickiest part. Too early and it is toxic (and known to cause blindness) but wait too long and it is watery. After being tested at the right temperature and time, the resulting liquid is 73% alcohol and is either diluted to 40% and bottled as moonshine or diluted to 58% and aged in barrels. Kings County also bottles a distiller’s proof moonshine (at 70%) for mixing.

5 gallon oak barrels

Although bourbon and moonshine are made from the same ingredients, the moonshine is sold unaged while the bourbon is put in a charred oak wooden barrel, which adds color and flavors as it ages. Kings County uses five ten-gallon pot stills, small compared to larger distilleries like Jack Daniels, as well as small five-gallon white oak barrels. The smaller the barrel the faster bourbon matures, which means the bourbon is ready in eight months as opposed to several years.

bourbon aging

There are many kinds of whiskeys, depending on which grains you use and how and where you age them. In order to be considered bourbon, it must be produced in the United States and be made from a grain mixture that contains 51 percent corn. (Contrary to popular belief, it does not need to be produced in Bourbon County, Kentucky). The flavor develops throughout the aging process, influenced by the barrel, temperature, humidity and air quality.

moonshine and bourbon tasting

Visitors can sample the bourbon and their award-winning moonshine, which won “Best in Category” for unaged corn whiskey at the American Distilling Institute’s Craft Sprits Conference, beating out 20 other competitors. On Saturday there was also a special mint-infused moonshine and bourbon in honor of the upcoming Kentucky Derby.

Kings County bourbon

Produced on a small scale, Kings County has the advantage of flavor control, and with the increase of specialty cocktail and old-school speakeasy bars in Brooklyn, it is a good time to be part of this craft movement. Several restaurants and bars in the neighborhood also serve Kings County, including Marlow and Sons, Fette Sau and Hotel Delmano.

Kings County Distillery
35 Meadow Street, Brooklyn, New York


Great Escapes: New Designs for New York Hotels

The Standard Hotel

Great Escapes: New Designs for New York Hotels
Thursday, May 5 at 6:30 pm

The Museum of the City of New York

Since the 19th century New York’s hotels have provided glamorous, romantic, relaxing, and stimulating respite from everyday life. What role did hotels play in the life of the city in the past, and how do contemporary designers imagine the place of their hotels in today’s New York City? Trace the history of the hotel experience and hear how contemporary designers are creating the next generation of urban retreats. Featuring Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects on the Standard Hotel; Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz of BNO Design on the Mondrian Soho; and Scott Salvator on redesigning interiors at the Carlyle. Introductory remarks by Donald Albrecht, Curator of Architecture and Design. Co-sponsored by the New York School of Interior Design. This program is presented as part of the ongoing Urban Forum series Spotlight on Design.

Reservations are required: 917-492-3395 or e-mail It is $6 for museum members; $8 seniors and students; $12 non-members. Thanks to the Museum of the City of New York, the price will also be $6 when you mention openhousenewyork!

(Image courtesy of Odette Veneziano)

Meet our Honorees

At our upcoming Annual Benefit at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, designed by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, OHNY is excited to be honoring acclaimed architect Hugh Hardy, renowned artist Red Grooms and Leslie Koch, President of The Trust for Governors Island. Together, they represent the architectural and artistic creativity that exemplifies OHNY and New York City.

Hugh Hardy, courtesy of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture website

Hugh Hardy FAIA has built and reshaped America’s cultural landscape through architecture. Over his 40 year career, Mr. Hardy’s work is consistently recognized by civic, architectural, and preservation organizations for a progressive spirit and sensitive understanding of context. Mr. Hardy is the founding partner of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, known for design of distinctive new buildings, restoration of historic structures, and planning projects for the public realm.

In addition to the DiMenna Center, recent celebrated New York projects include, New York Botanical Garden’s Leon Levy Visitor Center; the restoration of Radio City Music Hall; renovation of the National Baseball Hall of Fame; multiple projects for the Brooklyn Academy of Music; and restoration of Bryant Park. In addition, his faithful restorations of the New Victory and the New Amsterdam theaters, among many other projects on 42nd Street, were pivotal in the reemergence of Theater Row as one of New York’s premier places of entertainment. He is a noted preservationist and planner, serving on the board of the Municipal Art Society, the Architectural League of New York and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Looking Up Broadway, Again, 1993. Lithograph in six colors on Rives BFK paper. courtesy of Marlborough Gallery website.

Red Grooms has a prolific career as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, filmmaker and theater designer. New York has been his home and source of inspiration for many of his works since moving here in 1956 to study at the New School for Social Research. Mr. Grooms is perhaps best known for his walk-though environments that he calls “picto-sculptoramas,” notably for his masterpiece, Ruckus Manhattan (1975). Throughout the late 1980s and the mid 1990s he created his well known series of prints and three-dimensional works called New York Stories.

His work has exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, and is represented in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, The Brooklyn Museum and others worldwide. In 1988, he received the New York City Mayor’s Awards of Honor for Art and Culture, was elected to be a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters in 2000, and in 2003, he received a Lifetime Achievement award by the National Academy of Design.

Leslie Koch with OHNY Board President, Margaret Sullivan, and Robert Rogers and Guido Hartray of Rogers Marvel Architects

Leslie Koch, as president of The Trust for Governors Island is responsible for the planning, redevelopment and on-going operation of the 150 acres of the Island owned by The Trust. Ms. Koch developed the strategy to create new park and public spaces, expand public access and early signature uses, invest in infrastructure and stabilization and plan for mixed-use public and private development. The Island has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors who enjoy the island’s historic buildings, art installations, and panoramic views of New York Harbor.

In addition, the Island has received national attention for its innovative park and public space design and has been recognized with awards from the Downtown Alliance of New York City, the American Institute of Architects and the Municipal Art Society.

OHNY Annual Benefit Tickets On Sale Now

openhousenewyork annual benefit
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
6:30 – 9pm

Honoring Hugh Hardy, Red Grooms, and Leslie Koch

The DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37th Street, New York, NY 10018

Special performances Project Trio and Anne Akiko Meyers

Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and live auction. Purchase tickets today

Honorary Hosts
Marianne Lockwood
Orchestra of St. Luke’s

Benefit Committee Co-Chairs
Scott Anderson
Stephan Jaklitsch

Sharon Davis Design

Bloomsburg Carpet

Practicing Partners
Apogee Design & Construction
Barr and Barr Builders
Bovis Lend Lease
Control Group
Hanrahan Meyers Architects
H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
E. W. Howell Co., LLC
Marc Jacobs
Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects
Quinlan Development

Host Committee
Acoustic Dimensions
Morris Adjmi Architects
Art Bridge Architecture
Diana Balmori
Barkan Kasen & Goldberg LLP
Joseph Barretto
Bernhardt Design
The Brodsky Organization
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Construction Specifications, Inc.
William Dailey
Charles Dan
Dorothy Dunn
Ennead Architects LLP
Chris Esteban
Karen Fairbanks & Scott Marble
FXFOWLE Architects
Greater Jamaica Development Corporation
Greenberg Traurig LLP
Kathleen Grishman
David Gruber
Robert Hammond
Nancy M. Heiser,
The Heiser Group
Jones Lang LaSalle
Buff Kavelman
Roy Kim, Extell
Kushner Studios
Lally Acoustical Consulting
Scott Lauer & Jeff Hand
Robert Maroney
Lauren & Michael Marrus
Menaker & Herrmann LLP
MG Contracting
Tam Ngo
Caroline Otto
Jane Patrick
Cesar Pelli
Margery Perlmutter
Qwest Contracting Corp
Anne Rieselbach & Grant Marani
Robert M. Rogers
Alan J. Segan
Margaret Sullivan & Greg Mims
Trikeenan Tileworks
Two Trees Management
William C. Vitacco
Madeline Weinrib
The Whalen Berez Group
Andrea Woodner
WXY Architecture
Yoma Textiles
Sualp Yurteri,
Ozer – The Marble Group
Howard Alan Zipser
Heather & David Zusman

List in formation.

Field Trip Friday: Keukenhof Garden

With spring in full swing (although, some days it still feels like winter!), Jessica, OHNY’s program manager headed over to Amsterdam earlier this month to explore the city and see tons of tulips in full bloom! One highlight of her trip was visiting Keukenhof Garden, located in Lisse, a town about an hour by train and bus from Amsterdam.


What can only be described as jaw dropping beautiful, this 80-acre picture perfect landscape is a garden lover’s paradise. Originally used as hunting grounds during the 15th century, the land and its castle were owned by Countess Jacoba van Beieren. The word Keukenhof meaning “kitchen garden” refers to the herbs that were planted beside the castle.

windmill from 1892

After the death of the Countess, Keukenhof became the property of several wealthy merchant families including the Baron and Baroness Van Pallandt. In 1830, they commissioned landscape architects J.D. and L.P. Zocher (who also designed Amsterdam’s Vondelpark) to create an English style garden around the castle.

Willem Alexander Pavilion

By 1949, the mayor of Lisse at the time and several leading bulb growers and exporters prompted the creation of an open-air flower exhibition, which opened the garden to the public.

Beatrix Pavilion

Now in its 62nd year, Keukenhof is typically open from late March until mid-May and is the largest flower bulb garden in the world with 7 million bulbs hand planted annually in over 1,600 varieties.

car full of flowers!

The garden also features numerous bridges, fountains and a windmill dating back to 1892.Within the garden, there are several indoor exhibits in buildings named after Dutch royalty and included the Willem Alexander Pavilion which had over 80,00 tulips on display and the Beatrix Pavilion, which contained hundreds of orchids and bromeliads.

tulip fields

One can literally spend the entire day at Keukenhof wandering through a maze, petting miniature ponies, sheep, guinea pigs, and bunnies and taking a canal ride through the amazing, colorful tulip fields.

Dutch apple tart

By the time Jessica got through exploring half of Keukenhof, a Dutch apple tart and chocolate cream puff (she didn’t eat them both herself!) were necessary to refuel and cover the rest of this spectacular and beautiful garden!

Field Trip Friday: Red Hook Carriage House

A few weeks ago OHNY staff went to visit Thomas Warnke’s renovated carriage house in Red Hook, also the home of his architecture studio space4a.

carriage house from the outside

Thomas showed us around the space, which took him three years to renovate. The exterior retains its original brick facade.

dining area

The interior has been re-done, with many furniture items found on Craigslist. Thomas utilized some original features, such as the ceiling beams, and re-purposed them as shelves.

showing us before photos

Thomas showed us before photos and images that documented the process.

living area

The fireplace is original, and he also put in floor to ceiling glass doors in the living area, the kind often used by restaurants to allow for open air dining, to create openness and a way to integrate the outdoors and indoors.


The stairs also use original wood as well, and lead up the the second floor office space and bedroom areas. He has recently created a roof garden for various fruits and vegetables, which he is experimenting with.

wood from trees on the property

The firewood in the entryway is from trees that were removed from the backyard when he put in the patio.

garden area

The back of the building has some original graffiti left. Thanks for letting us visit, Thomas!

Solar Decathlon

OHNY staff was recently contacted by one of our volunteers, Joanna Ma, about her involvement in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, an international competition held in Washington, D.C. that challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.

the team at the International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida

On April 16, 2010, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu formally announced the 20 collegiate teams selected to compete in the next Solar Decathlon. Joanna is a member of Team New York, an interdisciplinary team of students from The Spitzer School of Architecture and the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York, and the only urban team in this year’s prestigious international competition.

their modular, contemporary design solution

During the next 16 months, Team New York will finalize their prototype, dubbed the Solar Roofpod, a net-zero energy structure specifically designed for sitting atop urban commercial or residential roofs. The Solar Roofpod will enjoy beneficial access to solar radiation, wind, water and rooftop greenery and enable city-dwellers to experience what it is like to live in a sustainable fashion.

model displayed at the International Builders Show

The construction of the home will take place on the City College campus in Harlem, and the home will sit upon a rooftop terrace site at the school. Team New York is one of the few teams in which students produce the construction drawings and are involved with the actual construction.

The Solar Roofpod also corresponds with the agenda outlined by New York City’s sustainability plan for 2030, ‘plaNYC’, by addressing and improving the environment through such means as the heat island effect and Co2 sequestration.


To learn more about the Solar Decathlon, or Team New York’s Solar Roofpod, For information about sponsoring Team New York or to make a donation please visit: