After decades of practicing equine medicine in upstate New York, Monte Sachs turned his hand to distilling spirits in small batches, using the artisanal Italian methods he had learned more than three decades before, while attending veterinary school at the University of Pisa. What began as something of a glorified hobby has turned into a burgeoning empire run by Sachs and his wife, Stacy Cohen.
The Bethel-based distillery, which now produces nine unique products that exemplify the American craft spirits scene—Peace Vodka, Most Righteous Bourbon, Fearless Wheat Whiskey, Defiant Rye, Wicked White Whiskey, Curious Gin, Otay Buckwheat and two kinds of grappa—houses the Tasting Room with a bar and the new Cat Stills Café. An enormous warehouse has just been added, with 9,000 square feet of storage for grain and bottles (filled and unfilled). In the adjacent restored Victorian farmhouse is the Dancing Cat Saloon, and the Stray Cat Gallery and Alley Cat Art and Antiques Store have spilled into equally charming buildings across the street.
The Dancing Cat Saloon, a destination for informal but elevated dining and live music, has recently been transformed with the arrival of executive chef Pietro Bortolotti, whose business acumen and refined palate have already made quite an impact throughout the compound. The Saloon’s menu now features superbly prepared classic cuisine with distinctly Italian inflections. Whenever possible, ingredients are locally sourced. A number of dishes highlight the house spirits, including penne with a Peace vodka sauce and scallops with a whiskey-spiked cream sauce. The list of signature cocktails, also available in the bar and café, has a whiff of the modern mixologist. Defiant Rye mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon, Catskill Mountain Sugar House maple syrup (aged in the distillery’s whiskey barrels) and orange bitters is an appealing take on a New York Sour.The Stray Cat Gallery, located in what is thought to be the first house built in the hamlet of Bethel, showcases the work of local artists, among them Jerry Cohen, Nancy Wells, Naomi Teppich, Kit Jones and Dale Emmart. Large pieces by woodcarver Paul Stark, whose workshop is on the premises, are displayed outside. At Alley Cat Art and Antiques Store, a wide array of collectibles, handcrafted jewelry, ceramics, furniture and historic Woodstock memorabilia makes for interesting browsing.The themes of art, music and community are consistently expressed at Catskill Distilling Company, where a variety of musical performances, festivals and workshops are hosted throughout the year. The distillery itself, which uses New York-grown grains, fruit from nearby orchards and botanicals grown on site, demonstrates a strong commitment to local agriculture. The entire company is deeply invested in a sense of place—a bountiful Sullivan County—and the amazing people who bring it to life.
Catskill Distilling Company
2037 Route 17B, Bethel, NY