It may still be dry January—or, as some have unfortunately rebranded it, “damp” January—but New York City is about to become a little boozier.
Empirical, the spirits company founded by two Noma alums, is set to open a distillery and tasting room in Brooklyn this year, Eater NY reported on Wednesday. The brand shut down its Copenhagen location in 2023 and filed for bankruptcy in that country, but that hasn’t stopped it from relocating to the states and further expanding its reach.
Back in 2017, Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen started Empirical as a company that aimed to create spirits outside the traditional categories (gin, rum, tequila, etc.). Williams had been the head of R&D at Noma, while Emil Hermansen worked for René Redzepi’s MAD nonprofit. (Notably, the Michelin three-starred Noma will close at the end of this year.)
Over the years, Empirical has become known as something of a disrupter in the spirits category, from process to flavor. In the mold of Noma, the brand is ultra-experimental: The goal is for each liquid to embody a specific time and place, Williams told Robb Report back in 2018. “I had the idea of sending a bottle to my sister that she could open and experience what it’s like to walk around the Copenhagen wilderness,” he said. So he foraged for ingredients and macerated them into the liquid to be distilled. Most recently, the Empirical team debuted a Doritos Nacho Cheese Spirit, which our spirits writer described as having a “distinctive funky cheese note” that also comes across in the flavor, along with hints of sour citrus, vanilla, and hoppy botanicals.
The company’s quaffs certainly aren’t for everyone, but they have gained a following and found their way into restaurants and bars across the world. Even before the opening of its own New York location, Empirical can be found at spots like Coqodaq, the new cathedral to fried chicken from the Michelin-starred Cote team. Now, with a tasting room all its own—led by Iain Townsend Griffiths, a drinks consultant who’s worked with the brand on events and marketing—Empirical will be able to give New Yorkers a peek behind the curtain.