5 Ways to Drink in Ulster County: Upstate's Elegant Dining & Drinking Scene

Over the last two decades, the craft beverage movement has slowly overtaken the country, spilling over the boundaries of coastal cosmopolitan cities like Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans and into the heartland, where small-batch breweries, distilleries, wineries, and specialty cocktail bars are popping up with increasing frequency.

New York is arguably the birthplace of the artisanal beverage movement. And within New York, that movement has been strong in Ulster County, situated in the Catskills of the Mid-Hudson Valley, where the state’s first whiskey distillery after Prohibition opened, and where many craft breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries are now flourishing.

Here are five ways to drink well in Ulster County.

1. Sip your way across the Shawangunk Wine Trail. Taste your way through the beautiful Shawangunk Mountains on this gorgeous 80-mile trail running from New Paltz to Warwick, featuring 15 award-winning wineries along the way. The trail also hosts frequent seasonal events like the Bounty of the Hudson Wine & Food Festival.

2. Spend a day at New York’s first post-Prohibition distillery. In 2005, Tuthilltown Spirits started producing small-batch spirits, carrying New York’s pre-Prohibition distilling legacy into the modern era. Their flagship product is Hudson Whiskey, but they also make vodka, gin, liqueurs and bitters, all produced from local grains, vegetables and herbs. Tastings and tours are available on a weekly basis, allowing for groups of up to 20.

3. Explore the cider scene. Recently, ciders have seen an upswing in popularity, especially quality small-batch iterations of the perennial fruit-based brew. Ulster County boasts eight cideries—owing to its apple-rich agriculture—which carry a variety of natural, locally sourced, sustainable lines of hard cider. Tours and tastings available, as well as food menus at select locations.

4. Tour a brewery (or two). Ulster County is home to no less than 10 microbreweries, many of which double as restaurants and music venues. IPAs or lagers, old world European styles or playful modernist interpretations—Ulster County has a brew for every beer geek.

5. Experience the alchemy of the cocktail culture. Whether you’re looking for a martini in a swanky lounge or an innovative cocktail to go with a stunning farm-to-table feast at an old-school tavern, Ulster County continues to be a mixology geek’s paradise.

Plan your trip today—and just remember to imbibe responsibly.

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