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!

Game-Changing Grenadine

Friday, February 7th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

Take any idea you had of what grenadine is like and throw it out. Done? Okay, good. We’re going to show you all how to make some amazing grenadine that will change your former frown upside down.

We’ll start by taking some fresh pomegranates and juicing them. No idea where to start? Well, lets just cut them in half first.

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Okay, now, grab a bowl and a bit of water and separate the seeds out.

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For the juicing part, there are two ways you can go about this. A traditional juicer as featured below…

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OR, you can drain away the water in the bowl, leaving only the seeds and crush them in your hands. See Dave’s demo:

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Whatever juicing route you choose, you’re going to need to get 2 cups of pomegranate juice. Then, pour into a pot on a burner.

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Add in 2 oz. of pomegranate molasses to the juice that is now heating.

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Dissolve 2 cups of cane sugar into the juice and molasses mixture. Once dissolved: immediately turn off the heat! 

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Add in 1 tsp. of orange blossom water. Stir into the juice mixture.

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You want to keep the flavor as bright and raw as you possibly can, which is why after the juice we removed the pot from the heat.

Now, you have this: Grenadine that will ignite your taste-buds and elevate your Shirley Temples…and vodka.

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Break out a clean, dry bottle to hold your new concoction.

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Pour back into your bowl.

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Strain and funnel into bottle.

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That’s about it! It’s startlingly simple but incredibly delicious.

Friends don’t let friends drink Rose’s. Get out there and show them how real grenadine is done!*

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*Recipe courtesy of David Landrum of Two James Spirits (thanks Dave!)

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Announcing: Rye Dog!

Friday, January 24th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

The newest member of the Two James lineup and exclusive to our Tasting Room, we are proud to give you our 100% Michigan made Rye. We will keep this short and sweet, because your excitement is overwhelming to type through.

Our rye is sourced from Wing Farms in Ann Arbor, and makes it’s way into the city weekly to our doorstep. We mainly barrel our 100% Rye and are anxiously awaiting 2015 to crack open our first barrel of whiskey. But so far what’s coming off our still is damn exciting. So exciting–we couldn’t wait for you all to try it now.

So come by and grab a brand new bottle at Two James. It’s pure, smooth, and possesses an edge of sweetness laced with a kick in the proof that will remind you it’s a good night any night for our Rye Dog. It would be a shame to reserve it for weekends only.

We’ll see you soon!

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Drink Deconstructed:
The Corktown Flip

Friday, January 17th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

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Introducing...Andrew!

Thursday, January 9th, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

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Welcome to a new blog section that we’re all pretty excited about. Our staff here rules, and it’s high time we share the good news.

So, without further ado: Introducing…Andrew!

Ever present, generally grinning distiller Andrew is the newest member of the team here at Two James Distillery. He is also so very lucky and the first to go enter the hot seat for our “Introducing…” series on the blog. For that, he deserves a hand.

For the last six years, Andrew has been fortunate enough to have had jobs that never involved punching the dreaded clock. Being a distiller wasn’t part of the grand life plan—it just sort of happened. Although that punching a clock thing is part of the deal now, he couldn’t be happier about it (I swear I didn’t pay him to say that). Originally Andrew was a loyal customer, making the trek down from Ferndale and spending a fair amount of time in Detroit trying to find a building or perhaps house in the city. He’s still up in Ferndale, but down here with us enough that I’m sure the hunt is still on for the perfect place.

Through his newest gig, Andrew has also been able to put to bed an interesting revulsion: whiskey. “I hated whiskey before this job. I really did. The smell used to make me gag. But now, seeing the process start to finish and really being so hands on—knowing what goes into it. It’s hard not the love it.” Maybe the constant exposure to the smell cured him? Either way, Andrew now can add whiskey to the long list of things he loves, along with traveling, good food and good people, and of course, his cat Kera (aww).

Finally, some advice for the road, and some of the best he’s had given to him: Strive for positivity and balance. “Even when things are down, they will eventually come back around. They always do.”

Well put Andrew. That’s all for now; distilling is a demanding job, and I can only dance around so much before I get put to work labeling. Thanks for keeping tabs on us friends.

Until next week!

Looking Forward to 2014

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 | posted by Sabrina

With our last retrospective post in the books, it’s now time to look ahead to 2014! It will be our first full year with our doors open to the public, and it’s a pretty big year for us. A couple of things are already in the works, but we’re excited to see how they grow and evolve in the upcoming year.

Distillery Tours: Originally, we had planned to hold off on offering tours until the start of the New Year. We found ourselves quite busy with the holidays, and it seemed like a stretch to fit them in. But you guys sounded off, and we listened. We started offering tours the end of November, and they’ve been a smash success since then. If you haven’t made it to one yet, here’s the scoop: we offer them every Friday and Saturday at 1:30 PM & 3:00 PM. We even do private tours and events with enough advance notice. At 15 bucks a ticket, our tours are a bargain! We even throw in a barrel-tasting of our Grass Widow while you’re back there with us in production. So click on the Tours tab and sign up if you haven’t. This weekend is almost booked except for a few spots left on Saturday!

Special Batches: A couple of weeks ago we tried to savor the last sigh of fall in liquid form, and made up a batch of Apple Brandy. We sourced our apple cider from the Dexter Cider Mill, added in some extra special yeast and fired up our copper pot still. The result was a terrific local apple brandy that would give many other brand names a fair run for their money. We are still deciding the best course for it, as we have a very limited amount. But we can now chalk our first foray into the world beyond our core three spirits a whopping success. Eventually, we will do a single-malt, and an absinthe as well. Keep an eye out for special releases in 2014.

Corktown 500: We’ve set the dates for the First Annual Camp James: April 4th-6th! Dave Pickerell is packing his bags and coming into town to make some whiskey with us (and you). It’s just one of the many benefits of Corktown 500 membership. So if you fancy yourself a craft spirit aficionado who is yearning to craft their own whiskey, or just someone who likes having the best weekend story to tell on Monday; this is your ultimate ticket. For more info on the Corktown 500 and how to sign up, click on the tab above! These are just a few of things we have on the docket for the beginning of 2014. We’ll be posting to the blog every Thursday and covering a wide variety of topics. Current distillery events, fireside chats with Peter and David for some behind the scenes stories, and (photo) deconstruction of our Tasting Room cocktails. Thanks again for a stellar 2013 dear readers!

Until next week.

Onward,
The Two James Team

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CBS 62 Special: "Detroit's New Chapter"

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 | posted by Sabrina

The folks over at CBS were kind enough to feature us in a recent Special Feature piece. Read the blurb below and click the link at the bottom for the video!

DETROIT (CBS 62) Detroit has always been known as The Motor City, but in recent years has become the national focus of controversial issues affecting many cities throughout the country.

The national recession, public corruption, racial division, population loss and enormous operating deficits have stood in the way of the city returning to its past prominence.

Now, with the largest municipal bankruptcy in history, the first white mayor in 40 years, an Emergency Financial Manager appointed by the State, and the resurgence of the auto industry along with successful diversification of other businesses, massive change is just ahead for Detroit. As the city moves forward into 2014, attention from The White House, Lansing, the nation and the world is on what comes next.

Take a look ahead with the Emmy Award-winning team of senior producer/host Carol Cain and senior videographer/editor Paul Pytlowany as CBS 62 presents “Eye On The Future: Detroit’s Next Chapter”.

This special presentation features exclusive perspectives from the people playing key roles in the rebuilding of the city as the history-making developments continue to unfold.

Check out the Video Here.

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