Drink Deconstructed: Fiona's Pleasure

Friday, June 13th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

To help you get your creative recipe juices flowing for the cocktail challenge, we deconstructed one of current drink menu beauties: Fiona’s Pleasure. Don’t let the pretty presentation fool you, this drink is booze-forward and delicious. Whip up one of these this weekend and then create your own magic. Just make sure you submit it to us by June 23rd! Happy crafting and cheers to the weekend!

Local Partner Spotlight: Wing Farms

Friday, May 9th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

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This past week I had the pleasure of meeting up with Stacey Wing, the head lady over at Wing Farms. Established in 1852 (that’s 162 years and counting) the Wing Family has roots that run deep in the Dexter community. Despite being a large sheep farm in the 1940′s and a dairy farm before that, the Wing family has always grown crops. Now they split their time equally between crops and livestock, some of which are featured below. The crops consist of soybeans, corn, rye, and perhaps most famously: giant pumpkins in the Fall. The largest one they ever grew was a 425-pounder! No one loaded up their truck with that one to take home to the kids.

While the pumpkin patch weekends have become a local tradition in their neighborhood, we’re starting new traditions on 20 acres of their land that formerly grew soybeans now growing rye plants for our whiskey. Overall, they have 205 acres, but these 20 will suit us just fine. The photos below show the rye shoots coming in strong-bright verdant green poking through the muted browns of early spring. Planted last fall, these plants will be our first seed-to-bottle rye crop, planted exclusively for us. How awesome is that?

I’ll be back to see how things shake out in late summer when the rye needs harvesting. I may try to snag a tractor ride, but primarily I’ll be there to see the full-grown plants and also scope out the barn renovation. Wing Farms mills our grain on-site as well in one of their barns on the property. Currently, they are renovating it to allow larger volumes of rye to be milled and an increase their processing efficiency. A big thank you goes out to the Wing Family for being a stellar community partner and allowing us to come out to the farm. We believe that using the highest-quality, locally sourced ingredients leads to the best tasting whiskey out there. While you’re waiting for our 100% Rye to be released, the proof can still be found in our Rye Dog. Think of it as a sneak peek inside our barrels and a taste of the future. Until next week!

Cheers,

The Two James Team

Month in Review: April 2014

Friday, May 2nd, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

The whirlwind of monthly news and reports of life here at Two James-distilled!

Drink Deconstructed: The Golden Ticket

Friday, April 25th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

The Corktown Flip may have left us, but we have plenty of new drinks in the tasting room to tickle your fancy. This one is Nate’s contribution and it’s based upon a classic cocktail from the 40′s. We love it’s simplicity and balance. So make it at home, or order one at Two James. Either way, it’s the weekend! Cheers everyone!

 

2014 Press Updates

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

With the whirlwind of 2014, we have admittedly neglected updating our press on the blog. But, Twitter shouldn’t get all the love, so- here it is in distilled form (pun not intended, but we’re into it). Peruse the pretty photos below, and click on the links at the end for the full reads. If we missed your write up, feature or blog post on us, let us know!

 

 

 

Introducing...Loretta!

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

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Certified Detroiter (10 years and counting) and musical songstress Loretta is next up in the hot seat. You may have been to one of her many shows around town or been served up a cocktail in our tasting room crafted by her hand. Either way, she’s a veteran bartender and we’re lucky to have here at Two James.

After living in varying neighborhoods-Corktown, Woodbridge, she currently hails from Southwest Detroit. The culture of the city moves her, but the people of Detroit are what claim the forefront of her heart. Loretta will be the first to attest to the freedom Detroit allows you to have-both socially and professionally.

She came to us through a tip from friends and by word of mouth. Aside from getting to pal around with all of us, if you ask her, she will attest that she really DOES love working at Two James. Craft cocktails are more challenging and rewarding for her to create due to creativity and skill they require. Loretta also grooves on feeling like she’s part of something that is doing good for the city. It also doesn’t hurt that Two James is in the heart of her favorite neighborhood-in the middle of a community she already belongs to.

When she’s not at work, she can be found flitting about town socializing and dancing, enjoying soirees on Belle Isle, or finishing a good book. She also may or may not be a secret aerobics fan-only in the safety of her living room, of course. If she’s on the opposite side of our bar, you’ll usually find Old Cockney Gin in her cup. Loretta professes that our gin is the very best she’s ever had and she adores mixing it up in a cocktail with some of our McClarey Brothers shrub. The bourbon is solid in it’s own right, but she always circles back to the gin. So, come by sometime and let Loretta fix you right up. Ask her about what shes loves (hint: it’s America’s favorite food) and if you’re brave what she hates (be careful it isn’t you!). And if you need a new drink to fall in love with, or inspiration for your night on the town-she’s got you covered.

 

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Award-Winning Accolades at ADI 2014

Friday, April 4th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

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Hi Friends!

Dave and Peter are back from their trek to Seattle, and come bearing some big news. We submitted our packaging and our spirits to a variety of national spirit competitions for 2014. This was our first year doing so and while we are incredibly excited, we also know that the competition is stiff. All of the incredible craft distillers this country has to offer are submitting their hardest work too; many of them our friends.

That makes it all the more humbling for us to report the following awards we received from the 2014 American Distilling Institute 8th Annual Judging of Craft American Spirits:

Clear Whiskey

Corktown Distillery Rye Dog – Best of Category

Straight Bourbon

Two James Spirits Grass Widow – Best of Category

Excellence in Packaging – Gold Medal

Two James Spirits – Old Cockney Gin

Excellence in Packaging – Silver Medal

Two James Spirits – Grass Widow Straight Bourbon

As some of our first national accolades, it’s a hard to describe the feeling, but it’s one we certainly won’t forget. We are grateful to our distillers and our staff for always giving it their best and helping bring our vision for Two James to life. They embody The Spirit of Detroit™.

Not only is this an exciting win for Two James, but it’s an exciting win for our city.  As Detroit’s First Distillery since Prohibition we are so proud of our accomplishments. The support Detroiter’s near and far have given us has been tremendous. With these lauded awards, we are bringing back the reputation and rich history that shows Detroit as a hard-working city with manufacturing at its core.  We are Detroit’s pioneers in the local spirit industry and we take that seriously. We promise that we will never ever stop experimenting and striving for excellence in all of our highest quality, hand-made, and award-winning products.

We thank all of you for your support.  Cheers to the next nail-biting round of competitions and the beginning of Spring in Corktown!

Until next week,

The Two James Crew

1st Annual Ceilidh

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

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Breaking News! During the 55th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade Day in Corktown we’re throwing our 1st Annual Ceilidh (pronounced “Kay-lee’”and Gaelic for party). If you’ve ever been down to the parade before, you know that our neighborhood takes it pretty seriously. Since this is our first go-around at this, we want to celebrate with all of our friends, family, fans and ardent supporters new and old.

The Logistics:
The event will take place in our back parking lot from 7AM-5PM. Rain or shine or -10 degrees, we’ve got it handled. Inside our gates we will have tents, heaters and plenty of spirits to keep you warm.

We will be serving:
Motor City Brewing Works and Atwater Brewery beer, as well as Guinness alongside our whiskey, gin and vodka.

We will be listening to:
Live Music provided by RootStand starting at 3 PM, right after the parade ends in front of Slows. If you need more information on them, go check them out (http://www.rootstand.com/) and like their Facebook page while you’re at it. They’re going to be amazing and we’re really excited to have them!

So, bring yourself, your 21+ friends and family, your green apparel and your party hats down to our parking lot. We’re starting a new tradition, and we need all of you to help us kick things off right. Cheers!

Behind the Still: Vol. 1

Friday, February 21st, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

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We all have a lot of questions. Sure, you can take a tour and learn about spirit making. You can try some cocktails and talk to locals in the tasting room. But we all want to really know: what’s it like to own a business in the city of Detroit proper? How the hell do you open the first distillery in Detroit since Prohibition anyway? Did your family pat you on the head and certify you crazy when you told them your grand visions? What can go wrong?

Those of us who have our own crazy dreams want to know: where you even start? That’s where this series comes in.

This is the first installment of Behind the Still, and we’ll answer all of those questions eventually. Rotating between the co-founders of Two James, we’ll bring a little fireside chat action to the blog. On any given night, you may be in a seat right next to them in the tasting room, so if you’ve heard these tales before, my apologies.

If you were in that chair next to Peter and asked him about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the distilling business, he’d have a list a mile long. You’d have to be more specific. I decided to inquire about the bad first. As most small business owners know: nothing ever goes according to plan—especially during the beginning stages. You’re literally learning on your feet everyday.

As some of the tour guests know, we give part of our spent grain to Brost Farms for cattle feed and the other portion to Detroit Dirt for composting. This is a dirty story, indeed. “One time, when we were in the beginning stages of composting with Detroit Dirt, we were trying to contain—this very aqueous material. Because of course, you don’t want to just lay it on the ground around the compost heap right? You want to keep it on the pile to let the moisture percolate.”

For those composting novices, Peter’s words ring true. It also should be noted that our whiskey runs are 500 gallons a piece. Sure, we’re taking some of that off and using it in our spirits…but you still have a ton of liquid mixed in with the grain. Anyway, back to Peter.

“So, as you know, or may not—the major Detroit Dirt contributor is the Detroit Zoo. At this point, I was getting stressed out because logistically, it wasn’t going to work. I didn’t have use of the front end loader, and I needed to contain the liquid and the grain so…I had to craft a berm. Of poop. A big wall of it. It wasn’t pretty, I can’t imagine how it looked, but hey—it worked.”

Crafting poo walls probably isn’t what people have in mind when they think of life as a distiller. But, at Two James, we take the whole life cycle of craft distilling pretty seriously (in Peter’s case, quite I would say). We get our grain locally and we donate to local sources to reuse it towards their own efforts when at all possible. He could have given up and said: NEVER, THIS ISN’T GOING TO WORK, but that’s not Peter’s way. He’s not a hero, but no one can say he’s not resourceful, or that he isn’t willing to get down in the mud—or poo for that matter—for his neighbors. So now, Detroit Dirt is also affectionately known as “poop berm” to the Two James staff and to those of you following this blog. Now you know.

Until next week!

Introducing...Ben!

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

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Introducing…Ben!

If you’ve come to visit our tasting room, chances are you’ve met Ben. Tall, tattooed, and slightly bearded, he was one of the very first members of the Two James staff when we opened last August. Ben heads up our tasting room and its daily operations. Typically here during the day, you can find him compiling lists, taking inventory and catching up on his daily dose of sports talk radio before opening our doors.

Before the Two James gig, he admittedly wasn’t well versed in Detroit or its many charms.  He was putting in hours at a mortgage company as a loan officer in training, and one step away from his certification. Before that, he served in the Marines and spent his workweeks as an ammunition technician. Luckily, his deployment to Kuwait was a relatively safe and brief portion of his military career and before long he found himself back in Ann Arbor.

He didn’t frequently make it into the city, except for the occasional sports game. However, once he started making the daily trips over from Ann Arbor and really exploring not only Corktown, but beyond—things changed. Ben now considers himself a true Detroit conversion story. In other words: he’s a believer. He sees exciting things emerging, meets interesting locals weekly, and is quick to share his story of moving from a Detroit skeptic to Detroit enthusiast.

Reminiscing back to the beginning, Ben notes how swift the Two James evolution has been. From his perspective he’s been able to see the dream change and grow in real time, and watch the tasting room gain rapid momentum.  To this day he’s still impressed and surprised by the popularity of a tasting room that offers three base spirits. Perhaps above all, Two James has shown him that there are a lot of Detroiters with a lot of big plans out there. “It’s increased my worldview, for sure,” Ben says. Everyone he meets has a dream, a goal, and a grand vision. Now he can say he has one too, and it’s free of mortgages loans.