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Queens Courage and Neir’s team up to showcase gin

Queens Courage and Neir’s team up to showcase gin
Astoria Distilling Company founder Chris Murillo teamed up with historic Neir’s Tavern owner Loycent Gordon to host a tasting for the first distillery in Queens.
Courtesy of Astoria Distilling Co.
By Mark Hallum

Queens Courage gin distiller Chris Murillo held a tasting at historic Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven last Friday showcasing his resurrection of a little known blend of the spirit by the name of “Old Tom’s.” Astoria Distilling Company, located in Long Island City, is a start-up founded by Murillo who left his job as a corporate attorney to pursue his dreams of making craft liquor.

In August 2015, Queens Courage gin signed a lease to open a tasting room and production space at the Falchi Building, located at 31-00 47th Ave. in Long Island City, while officially obtaining its permit to manufacture alcohol in the city back in December. Queens Courage has so far achieved a fast-growing distribution throughout New York state and New Jersey. It is so far the only craft distillery in the borough, and already winning awards such as the 2015 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

“I like to say you can say you can get [Queens Courage gin] from Buffalo to Montauk,” Murillo, a San Diego transplant, said.

According to Murillo, Old Tom’s style gin is derived from an American blend most widely consumed during the Prohibition Era, and nearly forgotten because of the mainstream popularity of the London Dry style. As opposed to the dry, “angular” taste of the latter, Old Tom’s is slightly sweetened with a more rounded flavor profile. Queens Courage, Astoria Distilling’s flagship product, is what Murillo calls the missing link in the gin genealogy.

Murillo chose Neir’s Tavern as outlet for Queens Courage because he believes the history of the business and the heritage of Old Tom’s are a perfect match. The Woodhaven beer joint has been in business since the 1820s when the Union Race Track was essentially the only attraction to the neighborhood. Owner Loycent Gordon held a rally with City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) to have the historic significance of the building officially recognized by the Landmark Preservation Commission, an application which was denied. Nonetheless, Murillo sees the tavern as an important feature of old New York.

Gordon and Murillo have formed a relationship in which they are creating signature cocktails using Queens Courage and promoting one another’s business.

“What I’m really excited about is—kind of the vision for the company—being the first and only craft distiller in Queens, which is one of the most diverse places in the world. We want to create spirits that reflect that cultural heritage,” Murillo said, adding that his company is currently working on producing different spirits from various nationalities. “Astoria Distilling will be launching its first vodka, called Queens Virtue, within the next two months,” he said.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall[email protected]glocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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