Would You Try a Gowanus-Inspired Drink?

The Gowanus Canal is notorious for its toxic contents, and has been a topic of debate for decades now. Not a year ago, a question was issued asking whether or not people would drink wine brewed in the neighborhood.

Now, the subject has been taken to a new level as local bars, including Bar Tano and Clover Club, create ironic beverages inspired and named in honor of the sludge.

The Brooklyn Daily did a few rounds around the neighborhood trying some of the more harmless-looking concoctions. This is what they discovered:

The Gowanus– “A dip in the Gowanus Canal is more risky than it is restorative, but splashing around in a refreshing cocktail of the same name is a safer proposition. Made with grapefruit vodka, grapefruit juice, seltzer, lime, simple syrup and some fresh basil flotsam, Bar Tano’s creation is a slightly bitter summer drink that reminded our intrepid reporter of a not-so-sweet-mojito or a spiked lime-ade. Fishing out all of that basil using a cocktail straw is a tall task- you might even start empathizing with the feds tasked with scrubbing the waterway while you’re trying to clean out your glass.”

Gowanus Houseboat Swizzle- “This sludge-inspired concoction actually looks like a refreshing glass of canal water, but don’t worry- it’s a layer of red bitters, and not a toxic chemical, that sits atop the progressively color-shifting liquid, going from orange to yellow to a slight green- a blend of Cachaca, lime, orange juice and Galliano. It’s cold enough to form frost on the glass, and its starts off strong, tasting of ginger and ends bitter and dry, thanks to the sour.”

St. Gowanus Beer- “This Belgian pale ale from the local brewers at Kelso is a muddy orange, with an unsubstantial head, and tastes surprisingly light- since its name might insinuate a patron saint of pollution. There is a hint of spice and fruitiness, but the beer feels a bit thin, lacking the punch one might expect from a drink named after a toxic waste dump.”

What do you think? Would you try a drink named after a famous biohazard?


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)