In August of 2021 a new neighborhood classic and temple to bourbon touched down in NoHo. After many years in the making, Great Jones Distillery opened in NoHo. More than one hundred years after Prohibition began, distilling made it back to Manhattan. Sourced from Upstate’s Black Dirt region, the grain is then brought to the neighborhood and distilled before being sent back Upstate to age. When fully complete, the Great Jones Distillery will expand to include a speakeasy, tasting room, tours, and its full service restaurant, the Grid.
The man behind the Grid, and the food program for the entire establishment, is Chef Adam Raksin. He’s a hospitality industry veteran of the City, with more than fifteen years of experience at globally-recognized restaurants in New York like Per Se and Le Cirque. We recently sat down with Chef Adam to learn more about him, his approachable meets creative approach to cuisine, and what we can expect in the future.
You have an extensive history working in the restaurant business in the City, including at some of the most renowned restaurants in all of New York. What led you to the culinary world?
I’ve always been excited about the culinary world! I grew up cooking with my grandfather who was a chef and had restaurants and a catering company in Brooklyn. He was retired by the time I was born but we would always be cooking together and trying new recipes we saw on Food Network and of course all the holidays.
Could you elaborate a little bit on how you came to be part of Great Jones Distillery?
Tim Rucker, who is the GM at Great Jones Distilling Co., and I worked together at our last job and he was approached for this opportunity and the rest is history!
Something I personally love about the Distillery is how it’s a real celebration of the state’s amazing and often underappreciated agricultural traditions. The spirits go from seed to bottle all in New York, the wine and cider are from the state, but you’ve also made sourcing local high-quality ingredients for the food program. Could you walk us through your sourcing process?
Menu items are made of produce and meats primarily sourced from New York State to highlight the state’s agriculture and support our farmers. Some favorite purveyors include Crescent Farm for Duck, Cowbella Creamery and Farm for butter, Five Acres Farm for milk and eggs, Montauk Pearl for oysters, and more.
And speaking of high-quality ingredients, you make extensive use of not only the spirits in the menu, but use byproducts of the distilling process, like with the spent grain butter. I think it’s made for a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience. Could you elaborate a little more on how you went about designing the menu for the Distillery?
The menu at The Grid is very approachable yet creative. New York is a melting pot, and American cuisine is heavily influenced by cuisines from around the world, so we implement that into our menu. I think one of the most unique things on the menus is how we can use our various spirits that we make in house throughout all the cuisine. With that, each of our dishes on The Grid’s menu pair perfectly with – or contain – Great Jones three signature whiskies, including Great Jones Straight Bourbon, Great Jones Four Grain Bourbon, and Great Jones Rye Whiskey.
While the Grid serves as the primary restaurant space in the Distillery, you also serve a food menu for the Tasting Room, will have food at the forthcoming Speakeasy, and host private events in the space – all of which have their own unique feel and vibe. How do you go about navigating both the challenges and opportunities of curating all these different experiences from one kitchen?
We try to utilize and crossover as many raw ingredients as possible. For example we have lobster on a few of the menus, it is just presented and produced in different fashions.
You’re hosting a special Valentine’s Day celebration ‘under the stills’ at the Distillery that looks like an amazing evening. Can we expect more special events like that in the future from you at the Distillery?
You can expect more special events in the future as event hosting is a big initiative in 2022 at Great Jones Distilling Co.
What’s your favorite dish and favorite drink on the menu?
One of my favorite things on the menu is the burger. The burger is served with Great Jones Bourbon Bacon Jam – Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese and Potato Chips right on the burger for that added crunch. My favorite cocktail is our Applewood-smoked Old Fashioned, If you are a cocktail person, then you know how hard it is to find a properly made Old Fashioned and ours hits all the notes. This is a cocktail I would pair with our burger every time.
I absolutely love that burger, it’s one of my favorites in the City. Lastly, could you share a few of your favorite things about the neighborhood? Any other favorite businesses in the neighborhood?
I love the charm and small neighborhood vibes of NoHo. Aside from Great Jones Distilling Co. obviously I love the Olive Oil Martini and Temple Fries at Temple Bar, can’t go wrong with those. Two of my favorite businesses in the area would definitely be Michael Andrews Bespoke and Great Jones Spa. Always nice to pamper yourself from these fine establishments.