The Spicy Spirit of Red Hook: Jack from Brooklyn’s Sorel (VIDEO)


“If mom’s apple pie and dad’s liquor cabinet got together and got busy, and you put it in a bottle, you get Sorel.” So says Jack Summers, the proprietor of Jack from Brooklyn, a one-man startup on the shores of Red Hook that has one specialty: sorel, a hibiscus liqueur.

In 2012, Summers decided to take the drink of his childhood, spruce it up, and put it on the market. “If you go to the Caribbean, you’ll see kids picking hibiscus on the way home, then they make it into tea,” he says, referencing his own Caribbean heritage. “Once the kids go to bed, the parents add alcohol to it. It’s a tradition that has taken place in homes for generations. I’m just the first to bottle it.”

The deep pink liqueur is smooth and very easy to drink, with a reasonable alcohol content of 15 percent. And its unique flavor spectrum–with hints of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and, of course, hibiscus–offers itself to many renditions of preparation: hot, cold, in cocktails, even poured on top a snow cone.

But the journey to creating the spicy spirit was not without its troubles. Like most of Red Hook, Jack’s store and production space drowned under six feet of water in the wake of Super Storm Sandy nearly one year ago, just when the business was getting under way. Today, the recovery is still taking place–for Jack from Brooklyn as well as the rest of Red Hook. This week our episode is celebrating the vibrant recovery and work that has occurred since October 2012 and the fantastic product steeped and blended by Jack Summers. Be sure to watch the video below, and then get yourself a taste of sorel.

Music in this video is by The Midnight Snackers and PitchBlak Brass.

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