The Catskills haven’t exactly been known for a thriving bar scene. While foliage and apple orchards draw plenty of visitors in the fall, the region’s watering holes seldom merited a detour. For years, your best bet was a pint of Bud at the local pub.
Today that’s changed, thanks to both longtime residents and some newcomers working to expand the Catskills’ drinking options. Many new breweries, distilleries, and wine bars offer as much character as they have craft. Ahead, find a selection of destinations for guzzling — er, sipping — beer, wine, and cocktails in the Catskills to round out an apple-picking or leaf-peeping trip this fall.
Catskill Distilling Company
Bethel’s Catskill Distilling Company made its name with their award-winning, highly sippable spirits. Within earshot of the original Woodstock festival site, the microdistillery’s breathtaking surroundings are matched by an impressive operation within: custom-made copper stills and a pine-wood tasting room dripping with natural light. Visitors can tour the distilling room then post up at the Dancing Cat Saloon for an expertly stirred cocktail. Stock up on spirits to take home with you, like their curiously smooth Curious Gin, made with 14 botanicals, or the popular Righteous Bourbon.
Orange County Distillery
New Hampton, NY
Cofounded by a fifth-generation local farmer, Orange County Distillery captures the true farm-to-bottle spirit. They grow every ingredient themselves, from the sugar beets for their vodka to the botanicals for their gin. It’s no surprise that Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the OG of farm-to-table restaurants, serves their spirits, too.
If you’re not much for Pinterest-y decor, you’ll love their straightforward cocktail bar inside a restored old barn. Try the medal-winning corn whiskey, neat or in a Field 47 cocktail: that’s corn whiskey, lemon rosemary and dark maple syrup. Their labels put it best, “You eat local. Now drink local.”
Cider is (finally) having its moment. Nestled in the mountains near Andes, Wayside Cider makes small-batch hard ciders using hand-picked apples. With a modern farmhouse design, the taproom is an updated take on cider taverns of old. Go for the drinks but stay for the eats — farm-to-table comfort foods like a heritage local pulled pork sandwich and organic chicken country pie with house-made aioli.
Though some might argue over whether Kingston is actually in the Catskills, we’d rather spend our time sipping the Pét-Nat (that’s Pétillant Naturel, or naturally sparkling) rosé at this charming, light-filled wine bar in the waterfront district. Between the white brick walls and the Carrera marble bartop, discover natural wines from around the world, as well as a revolving menu of local beers. The owners take just as much care curating their food menu of refined bar-food bites like a hot dog with pickled onions or a cheddar sandwich on warm French bread.
Livingston Manor, NY
Inside its certified green building, Catskill Brewery in Livingston Manor makes quality craft beers with an eye toward sustainability, using as many local ingredients as possible. (The West Coast still dominates the hops game, though this is slowly changing.) The taproom features a small bar where visitors can taste a variety of pilsners, ales, and lagers, like their prize-winning “Eye of Newt” sour beer. Take home a couple of growlers, or a baseball tee emblazoned with the brewery’s raccoon mascot — a perfect addition to your Catskills swag.
Roscoe Beer Co.
It doesn’t get more local than this brewery in the heart of Roscoe, a premier fly-fishing destination dubbed “Trout Town USA.” Owned and operated by longtime residents, Roscoe Beer Co. offers a dozen or so craft beers, including their award-winning Trout Town Brown Ale. Visitors to the taproom can sidle up at the bar, fill up at the self-serve tap wall or lounge on fire-side leather couches. The only thing cozier is the menu, comprised of classic comfort foods like wings, chili and a whole section just for fries.