When you think bourbon, New Jersey may not be the first place that comes to mind. Yet interest in “granddad’s spirit” is rising, especially among younger imbibers. Stop into any bar worth its salt, and you’re bound to encounter riffs on the Manhattan or Boulevardier alongside new creations. And these days, Kentucky isn’t the only game in town. An increasing number of Jersey distilleries are offering their spin on the Bluegrass State’s most famous export, so those classic cocktails may just be crafted with a hometown spirit.
Of more than a dozen licensed distilleries in the state, five offered bourbon as we went to press. More have it on the way, which is an exciting development even beyond the glass. Though certain grains like barley are difficult to source here, most Jersey distilleries are partnering with local farmers for everything from corn to rye.