We asked a number of regional distillers (and one meadery) to create a cocktail highlighting a signature product. Here are the recipes.
Central Ohio presents an embarrassment of riches when it comes to locally made spirits. We sat down with six different distillers (as well as the folks at Brothers Drake Meadery) to get an insider's guide to the best spring cocktails readers can craft at home to highlight signature spirits from each. From twists on the classics to all-new creations, there's something for everyone at every level of adventurousness.
Middle West Spirits
Described as “a really light, refreshing, but still-boozy cocktail” by Gerad Guhde, beverage director at Middle West Spirits, this cocktail brings together a bunch of ingredients that are and aren't usually associated with gin. “St. Germain is like the Guy Fieri of cordials and everyone loves to make fun of it, but I still think it works well and adds some floral qualities,” said Guhde.
The Spring Sling
Muddle 3 cucumber slices and 4-5 mint leaves with 1.5 oz of Vim & Petal gin
Add:0.5 oz St. Germain 0.5 oz ginger liqueur 0.5 oz lime 1 oz green tea
Shake, strain over ice.
Top with ginger beer.
Garnish with cucumber ribbon and mint sprig.
Suggested pairing: “I think it's a great patio brunch drink to ease you into drinking early in the day,” said Guhde.
This bourbon drink was created by David Yee, bartender at Watershed Kitchen & Bar. “It's a spiced-but-refreshing cocktail,” wrote Yee. “The spice notes from the bourbon mix well with the subtle sweetness of the Nocino, but it's really all about something that blends the grain notes from the bourbon.” Yee added that the wintry cinnamon, walnuts and allspice characteristics make it an approachable all-season cocktail.
The Ghost Story1 oz Watershed Bourbon 1.25 oz Watershed Nocino 0.25 oz lemon juice 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake and strain over a large cube in a rocks glass.
Garnish with expressed and discarded lemon peel.
Suggested pairing: Count Chocula or Boo Berry cereal.
This distiller, which makes a sake-infused grain alcohol, contracts manufacturing of its spirits through Middle West, but the people behind it recently opened up into the mixers business with Simple Times Mixers. “People wanted us to make the cocktails for them to enjoy at home,” said Mark Tinus, founder of Karate Cowboy. On the spirits side of things, Karate Cowboy's Natural has sake characteristics that fall between vodka and gin. “It's more floral than a vodka, less botanical than a gin,” said Tinus. The sake profile is floral, with tropical sweetness and vanilla notes.
Blueberry Arnold Palmer2.5 oz iced tea, unsweetened 1.5 oz lemonade 0.5 oz simple syrup 1.5 oz Natural
Garnish or muddle with blueberries and lemon (muddle the blueberry for an even better flavor).
Suggested pairing: “It's got a grill-out, barbecue-style vibe,” said Tinus. “The generic answer is Korean barbecue, but I'm grilling out with chicken and ribs with it in my backyard.”
Mill Street Distillery
Jeff Thompson, master distiller at Mill Street, picked the Mill Street Julep for a spring cocktail, originally made with moonshine by the distillery four years ago to celebrate the Kentucky Derby. “We drank a boatload of these the first year we made that recipe,” said Thompson. “Our moonshine is 100 percent corn, so it's actually kind of sweet to begin with. I always tell people it sweetens up your coffee in the morning.” Bourbon is now the distillery's flagship product, even though it came out of Thompson's team's initial impatience. “What I'm bottling right now is 30 months old. We started out with the idea that we'd distill stuff, because we didn't have the patience to make wine or beer,” he joked. “But then we found out we have to sit and wait for two years.”
The Mill Street Julep1 oz simple syrup 2 oz Mill Street bourbon
Shake, strain over crushed ice.
Garnish with fresh mint.
Suggested pairing: Serve it next month at a Kentucky Derby watch party
Only one local distillery is in the rum game, and they're proud of it. “Our goal is to make things that don't need to be doctored up too much,” said Chad Kessler, chief distiller, owner and operator at 451 Spirits. “I want it to be good enough to drink as neat as possible.” The Pipe Dream rum by the company allows for a new twist on a classic traditionally made with bourbon or rye whiskey. “This recipe shows off the flavors of the rum,” said Kessler. “There's lots of caramel and vanilla notes, and a little spice even though there's no spice added. The bitters are basically your seasoning.”
Rum Old Fashioned
Muddle sugar cubes or simple syrup2 oz Pipe Dream rum
Add dash of bitters.
Add a little ice.
Garnish with an orange peel.
Suggested pairing: Chicken and waffles
Noble Cut Distillery
Noble Cut uses dark cherry to make their mark on the traditional Manhattan. You won't find sweet vermouth; instead an almond extract simple syrup takes its place to create a nutty finish. “We think the almond pulls the fruit out,” said co-owner Ben Vause, who worked on the recipe with co-owner and head distiller Tony Guilfoy. “While a Manhattan can be pretty sweet, ours isn't. The dark cherry brings out more of a spice/chocolate undertone, especially with the rye mix that we use. It's not an ice cream sundae, but you can put it on ice cream if you want.”
Noble Cherry Manhattan2 oz Noble Cut Dark Cherry Whiskey 1 oz almond simple syrup Dash of bitters
Garnish with a cherry and a sprig of orange zest in a rocks or cocktail glass.
Suggested pairing: Pair with any kind of traditional dinner, or anything steakhouse-ish
Brothers Drake Meadery
While a meadery isn't technically a distillery, Columbus is lucky to have Brothers Drake. The makers of this fermented honey drink have been experimenting with mead cocktails for years. “Our Pollinator Mead is one of our most exciting ones we've had,” said Dru Batte, bar manager. “It's really sweet, made with local Lodi apples. It finishes with a little tart so it's not sickeningly sweet.” Including assistance from fellow local makers Rambling House and Middle West is intentional. “It's a poly triad of the three of us, with the help of each other's hard work,” said Batte. “Both of those places show us a lot of love.”
The Polyamorous2 oz Pollinator Mead 1.5 oz Middle West Spirits OYO Rye 4 drops of Angostura bitters
Stirred with ice.
Strained into a martini glass.
Topped with .5 oz Rambling House Ginger Beer.
Lemon peel garnish.
Suggested pairing: “As we transition from winter to spring, it's really good for brightening up a night at home [or] relaxing after work,” Batte said. “Foodwise, it would serve well as an after-dinner drink.”