Watkins Glen Eclectic Beverage Tour
The small town of Watkins Glen offers several unique experiences from majestic waterfalls to sunset sailboat cruises, from New York’s only National Forest to an historic grand prix road course you can still drive today. It’s no wonder this tour is a bit eclectic focusing on four diverse and distinctive craft beverage producers.
Kick off your tour with a short drive on the same historic course that held the first post-WWII road race in U.S. back in 1948. Starting in front of the State Park, drive the winding two-lane backroads up over the hills, across the iconic Stone Bridge, and back down to Franklin Street and straight through the heart of town.
Kick Off Your Tour: Rooster Fish Brewing
• Not far from the historic Start/Finish line, you’ll find Rooster Fish Pub. As one of the first official farm breweries in New York State, Rooster Fish has always offered an authentic taste of the region using locally-grown hops, fresh Seneca Lake water, and local organic malts. Order a tasty lunch of poutine, soft pretzels, and a basil-pesto flatbread with cheese and bacon paired with a pint of Wildflower Wit or, if you’re a diehard hophead, opt for the flavorful Hop Warrior. With an ABV of nearly 9%, this brew isn’t messing around.
Stop Two Makes You Pucker: Pantomime Mixtures
• Enjoy a beautiful ride along the Seneca Lake Scenic Byway to Pantomime Mixtures. While you might find one to two at other breweries, Pantomime Mixtures was first on the Craft Your Adventure Trail devoted to crafting mouth-pleasing sours. In addition to their tasty solo efforts, Matt and Jesse always seems to be involved in unique collab-brews. If there’s one on the menu, you’ll want to try it. As these small batch creations don’t last long. Like Tucker's Pucker, a Tequila barrel-aged wild ale.
Next on the List: Finger Lakes Distilling
• A few miles back towards town is Finger Lakes Distilling, the region’s first stand-alone craft distillery, where you can sample delicious flavored vodkas and liqueurs, as well as rich, aged whiskeys and other spirits. Try the McKenzie Rye which is aged in charred oak casks and finished in local sherry barrels blending old-time techniques with a unique taste of the region for a smooth, balanced rye. Appealing to dry martini lovers, the London-style Distiller’s Reserve Gin can be enjoyed all on its own.
Take a moment to stop by the International Motor Racing Research Center (most people have no idea it’s even there) to learn about famous road races of a bygone era, the annual Vintage Grand Prix, and the remarkable lineage of drivers who have sped around the Esses at Watkins Glen International.
End the Day with a Rustic Feel: Seneca Lodge Brewing
• Then head up the hill to Seneca Lodge, an Adirondack-style lodge that provides a unique connection to the past with it’s rustic log cabins, A-frame chalets, and old-school motel. Of course, the best connection to yesteryear can be found in the tavern which is a spectacle of woodwork, hundreds of arrows shot into the walls (ask the server for the story), and vintage laurel wreaths from the Formula 1 races of the 1970s. Added bonus? They make their own brews including a Blonde Ale, Munich Lager, and IPA.
Note: the Craft Your Adventure trail spans four counties and each has its own restrictions and guidelines. To assure yourself the best experience, you should always check with the brewery before going to learn about current safety protocols, hours of operation, to-go options, and more. You can also find information about Uber, Lyft and other drive-share services online, like Main Street Drivers who will actually take you around in your own car.