Red Hook Distilleries and Sandy

“Red Hook was overrun by the Sea,” my friend Jack Summers owner of Sorel Artisanal Liqueur, told me when I called to check in with him. “The storm was a disaster, but not a catastrophe.”

From what I read and saw, I’m not sure that’s totally accurate but then again, Jack is the most can-do person I know with a strong positive outlook.

Red Hook is the home of many of the Brooklyn distilleries and breweries and the area was among the hardest hit neighborhoods in New York City. Sandy killed people there and knocked out power for hundreds of thousands.

Some booze business distilleries were destroyed, some somehow managed to survive unscathed and some, like Jack From Brooklyn were dealt serious, but hopefully not fatal blows.

When I caught up with him the other day, he was in the process of reaching out to FEMA for some support. The damage to his existing stock was limited; his spices and other key Sorel ingredients were not too severely impacted. The problem was serious damage to his equipment including ruined expensive forklifts. The bottling and other equipment is under water and until the power comes back they won’t know if they are operable.

To compound matters, his partners live in New Jersey and can’t get to Red Hook to help in the clean up. Besides, if you know anyone living in NJ, you know they have been particularly devastated.

A few weeks ago, Governor Cuomo held the first ever craft spirits, wine and beer summit designed to strengthen New York’s position as a leading hub of alcohol production and tourism. I sincerely hope that among the people and businesses the state reaches out to with assistance, the Red Hook folks are on the list. It’s more than just the booze business; it’s the entrepreneurial spirit at work.

Meanwhile, Jack Summers remains optimistic. He posted this on the brand’s Facebook page the other day:

“If there’s a scrappier town with a stronger sense of community than Red Hook, I’d be amazed. We got hit hard by Sandy, some harder than others. We’ll rebuild. Unity makes strength.”

He reminds me of one of my favorite expressions – what doesn’t defeat me, makes me stronger.

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