Vineyards have their tasting rooms. Breweries have their tap rooms. These craft beverage entities have one massive advantage by serving in their own spaces – their clients get to enjoy their products how they would enjoy them at home. Craft distilleries…not so much.Outside of a handful of passionate acolytes for spirits, most of the drinking public prefer their spirits mixed. Between murky local drinking laws, inexperienced bartenders and a plethora of other landmines, it can be massively intimidating to try to start a cocktail program within your distillery’s tasting room. But, by not taking advantage of the depth of knowledge you have in-house, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity for brand and business growth.
By the end of this webinar, you will be able to take these suggestions and ideas and begin growing a vibrant and beneficial cocktail program within your very own tasting room, suited to your individual distilling programs and philosophies.
When: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 3-4 p.m. EDT
Where: Online Webinar
Who: Mark A. Vierthaler (Head Distiller, Tenth Ward Distilling Company)
As the October edition of Craft Spirits magazine is the Brandy Issue, we welcome a panel of American brandy producers to share their stories and offer their insights on the state of the American brandy market—and what lies ahead for the category.When: Thursday, Oct. 24, 3-4 p.m. EDT
Thanks to a 2013 law that allowed the opening of the state’s first distilleries since Prohibition, craft spirits are on the rise in New Jersey. There are now more than 20 distilleries operating in the state, and that number is sure to continue growing, as Long Branch Distillery should be open by this time next month. For now, here’s a look at some of the notable distilleries producing spirits in New Jersey.
The Garden State is home to Laird & Company, America’s oldest distillery. The Laird family can trace its distilling history back to the late 1600s and even shared a recipe with George Washingon. Laird & Company founder Robert Laird received License No. 1 from the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 1780 and soon recorded the first commercial transaction at the distillery in the Scobeyville section of Colts Neck. While the distillery produces several brandies, it is best known for its applejack. Blended Applejack, an 80-proof spirit, is a blend of apple brandy and neutral grain spirits, while Straight Applejack 86 is an 86-proof spirit that is a nod to the distillery’s roots. Although Laird & Company began distilling in Virginia in 1972, the company continues to blend, age and bottle its products in Scobeyville.
Nearby is one of New Jersey’s newest distilleries. The Colts Neck StillHouse opened in January with a brand inspired by its founder’s grandfather. In Geoff Karch’s childhood, his grandfather, George, Sr., was known to exclaim, “Holy MuckleyEye!” The phrase became a sense of pride for the family, and Karch has branded all of the StillHouse’s spirits under the name MuckleyEye. Currently, the distillery offers five spirits: Copper Pot Distilled American Gin, East Coast Crafted White Rum, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Straight Rye Whiskey and Vodka Distilled From Wheat. StillHouse offers tours by appointment and is home to a cocktail parlor open Wednesday through Sunday.
Surrounded by farms in a picturesque setting in Hopewell, Sourland Mountain Spirits has been making craft spirits since founder Ray Disch established the distillery in 2015. The distillery’s lineup of products includes Gin, Gin Reserve, Vodka, Rum and Gold Rum. The distillery offers tours on weekends and this summer it opened a new tasting room (open Thursday through Sunday) that offers seasonal cocktails, tastings and bottle sales.
Q&A with New Member: Bela Nahori of ChainBridge Distillery
Over Christmas dinner several years ago, Bela Nahori and his family began to discuss the idea of opening a distillery. He was an accountant living in Ohio, but the Hungarian-born Nahori comes from a long line of alcohol makers. On March 27, 2019, the family’s Christmas wish came true when they opened ChainBridge Distillery in Oakland Park, Florida. We recently caught up with the new ACSA member to talk about making brandy in the Sunshine State.You were born in Hungary and were living in Ohio before opening ChainBridge. Why did you decide to open the distillery in Florida?
While living in Ohio, I often visited Florida, as my sister was living there. Besides the great weather Florida has to offer, there are many tourists and cultural diversity in South Florida. We decided to move to Florida not just because of the warmer weather but to be part of the diversity and “bridge” the fruit brandy culture to South Florida.
You have a range of products including a basil-flavored vodka and spirits distilled from vegetables like beets and carrots, but you are most focused on brandy. Why is brandy important to you?
Our family has a winemaking background from the well-known Tokaj wine region of the northeastern border of Hungary and Slovakia. Along with wine, I grew up with the Hungarian culture of pálinka. Pálinka is a traditional fruit brandy and both my grandfathers were distilling fruit brandies at the end of every summer. Fruit brandy was always in our house, our neighbors’ house and every house where I grew up. It was part of our lives. It is something I am very familiar with and wanted to share it with South Florida.
How much do you have to educate people about brandy in Florida?
Florida is known for the rum and being the only distillery in Florida with a focus on fruit brandy makes it more challenging. Our goal is to educate everyone that visits our tasting room. We offer tours where we describe our process, from fruit preparation to how you taste the final product. We are passionate about our superior product and we consider it personally rewarding when someone comes back for another bottle of fruit brandy, particularly when they never had fruit brandy before.
What fruits have you most enjoyed working with so far?
So far, my favorite fruit was Bartlett (Williams) pear. We do not use any artificial flavors or sugars in our products. We try to capture the characteristics of the fruit through the fermentation and distillation process. We also mature our brandies in stainless steel tanks for a minimum of three months in order to accentuate the aromas and flavors. We were very happy with our small batch Bartlett Pear Brandy. As soon as you open the bottle, the aroma of the pear envelopes you. I also enjoy working with root vegetables and I am currently experimenting with turnip.
How did your background in accounting help prepare you for running a distillery?
Working in public accounting for many years helped me tremendously with opening a craft distillery. I was in tax and the knowledge and experience I gained at Grant Thornton helped me with the business plan and budgeting at the beginning, and it helps me on a daily basis with inventory, federal and state reporting. In addition, my wife is a CPA and that makes the preparation of financial statements easier at the end of the year.
We showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community
How to Drink Like a Mobster: Prohibition-Style Cocktails
Author: Albert W. A. Schmid
Publisher: Red Lightning Books
From John Dillinger’s Gin Fizz to Al Capone’s Templeton Rye, mobsters loved their liquor―as well as the millions that bootlegging and speakeasies made them during the Prohibition. In a time when any giggle juice could land you in the hoosegow, mobsters had their own ways of making sure the gin mill never ran dry and the drinks kept flowing. And big screen blockbusters like The Godfather, GoodFellas, and Scarface and small screen hits like The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire ensure that our obsession with mobsters won’t run dry, either. Mixology expert Albert W. A. Schmid shows how you can recreate the allure of the gangster bar life with step-by-step instructions on how to set up the best Prohibition-style bar and pour the drinks to match.
A compilation of portable drinks, Flask comprises 41 classic and contemporary cocktail recipes that can be transported anywhere. From imbibing in the great outdoors to ringing in the New Year, the book offers recipes for all of life’s greatest moments. Bold, vivid infographics detail drink recipes for 6- and 17-ounce flasks, perfect for sipping solo or sharing with friends. Accessible and fun, the book includes a brief history of flasks, common dos and don’ts, and an interactive quiz!