Local wine and craft beer are fine, but what if you want something stronger? Long Island is famous for its potatoes, so what could be more natural than to use those potatoes to make a pure potato vodka? And so LIV was born. The distillery’s tasting room is up a flight of wooden stairs in a chic industrial-style loft space, where you will find not only vodka, but a series of liqueurs made from that vodka, plus gin, and also a line of “brown” spirits—various styles of whisky.
Here you buy the glass, which can then be filled with your choice of tastes: three from the vodka menu for $10 or two from the whisky menu for $14. Then they wrap up the glass for you to take home. Our server was also one of the distillers, and his enthusiasm for his products was quite catching. We learned all sorts of bits of information, such as that it takes 25 pounds of potatoes to make one bottle of vodka. They also can now offer cocktails, and will soon have local beer as well. They have a small selection of drink-related gift items.
By the way, if you go on their web site they ask for your birth date, and if you decline to provide it and try to enter you are diverted to a Disney site.
From the Vodka Menu
- LIV Original
This is “just a great vodka” we decided. Not too many vodka makers do a straight potato vodka, notes our server. The taste is very clean and clear.
- Raspberry Sorbetto $22
Local raspberries are used to infuse the vodka with intense berry taste. Though sugar is also added, our friend noted it was not too sweet, and would make a lovely cocktail with bitters.
- LIV Ristretto Espresso $30
Yes, this is vodka infused with espresso plus sugar. “Dangerously delicious,” muses our friend, and “shouldn’t coffee come in this form?” Not sure how much this would wake you up in the morning.
- Lime Sorbetto $22
Obviously the limes are not locally grown, but this is also quite good. Our friend compared it to key lime pie.
- Strawberry Sorbetto $22
Mattituck is famous for its strawberry festival, so it’s no surprise to find a strawberry flavor on the menu. However, we find this one a bit too sweet.
- Deepwells Botanical Dry Gin $35
28 botanicals, to be precise, all of which are listed on the tasting menu, and quite botanical it is indeed. Though it would not really work in a martini, one could be quite happy drinking this straight or on the rocks, or maybe in a gin and tonic with the interesting tonic they have for sale.
From the Whisky Menu
- Rough Rider Bull Moose Three Barrel Rye Whisky $45
Yes, three barrels—North American oak, bourbon casks, and finally whisky casks—are part of the process of distilling this whisky. The aroma is sweet and spicy, maybe allspice, also caramel candy and apple pie. I like whisky, single malt scotch in particular. This is very smooth and quite tasty and we buy a bottle to take home.
- Pine Barrens Single Malt Whisky $45
This drink starts its life as English ale barley wine which is then double pot distilled and aged in new American oak casks—plus more detail I missed in my notes because I was enjoying the drink. I didn’t like this as much as the Rough Rider, but it is also a very good whisky, with some earthiness to the taste, a bit lighter than the Rough Rider.
Reasons to visit: you like vodka, gin, whisky, and/or after dinner drinks like Limoncello, which the sorbettos resemble; you’ve been to a bunch of wineries and are ready for something different.