The year 1920 saw road construction along the New York side of the Delaware River to link the many settlements along the river. Today it’s known as Route 97 with its 71 miles spanned between Port Jervis and the village of Hancock.
The Hawk’s Nest, a winding route affording spectacular views of the river, is also the most photographed and favorite of motorcyclists. It rises hundreds of feet above the river making it a popular area for eagles and hawks to nest which gives great sightings of them hunting along the river. Trails, parks, preserves and other areas are all nearby as well as side trips to museums, breweries and distilleries.
The Shrewd Fox Brewery was on our list this day which only required 5 miles north up route 55 out of Barryville. This tiny brewery is owned and operated by a friendly retired couple who once made beer just as a hobby. Enjoy a brew at the bar or bring home a 32 ounce growler of one of the dozen beers and ciders they make. We brought home some of their Kozak Baltic/Ukrainian Porter which was enough to let us know they certainly know how to brew beer! Just about 12 more miles north brought us to our second visit to the Catskill Distilling Company in Bethel, NY. Bethel, the home of the 1969 Woodstock concert, is rich with Woodstock concert history without over doing the commercialism.
Monte Sachs attended veterinary school in Italy where he met an 80-year-old farmworker named Bernardini who taught him the art of distilling traditional grappa. With the passage of the 2008 New York State Farm Distillery bill, Monte decided to get into the business of distilling and we’re glad that he did. The store is outfitted with a gorgeous bar that comes from the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing and looks at home in the old styled shop with its shelves stocked with some of the best spirits you’ll find.
Hungry? Walk across the lot to the Dancing Cat Saloon which is housed in a renovated Victorian home with a wrap around deck. The quality of the food matches that of the excellent spirits and you may catch some live jazz as well. This distillery is one of our favorites not only because they distill so well, but the restaurant rounds out the whole experience without having to get in your car to go anywhere else. Once you’ve had your fill there, it’s about 60 seconds by car if you even want to bring it to visit the Woodstock concert site with its relatively new museum and the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
There’s enough at this location to fill the day all within walking distance and the roadways to and from the area are a delight to ride. The aforementioned scenic byway is a plus, but you’d be hard pressed to find a poor route in that area no matter what direction you come from.