When it comes to things that seem, in theory, far too good to be true, most people would assume “combination chocolate and whiskey factory” to be one of them. In Red Hook, Cacao Prieto is not only delightfully defying expectations, but also turning out some of the very best products in every category it touches.
Chocolate is a trade that founder Daniel Prieto Preston comes by honestly. So honestly, in fact, that the company’s organic cocoa beans and sugar cane are actually sourced from farmland in the Dominican Republic that Preston’s family has tended for over a century. Preston has also fully thrown his background as an engineer into the process, inventing a number of efficient, sleek chocolate-making machines that the company now sells as a side business.
“The ideas could spark from a recipe dated from the 1800s, or in investigating the collection of botanicals from our apothecary,” the company’s Art Director Michele Gabrielle Clark says of the constantly evolving process. “We’re very interested in using rare herbs and plants, and we love stretching our imaginations.”
Thus far, this has led the company to a few unexpected outcomes, perhaps most notably its hugely popular Widow Jane whiskey. Initially it was just making cacao-based rum and liqueurs; it branched into the whiskey business on a whim last fall. The company now has an individualized distillation process and one of the most beloved whiskeys in Brooklyn. It’s also led to a few brilliant crossovers, including a Widow Jane Bourbon Caramel-filled bon bon bar.
Having established itself as a part of Red Hook’s tight-knit small business community (thanks in no small part, we’d guess, to the on-site tours), it would seem that however circuitous the route, Preston and Cacao Prieto have ended up exactly where they’re meant to be.
Cacao Prieto; 218 Conover Street