In 2006, I was introduced to Thai Palace in Holland, MI. Nine years later, I still get the same order, Gang Kiew Wan with Chicken- Medium spice, and a half order of Baby Egg Rolls. The only thing that has changed over the years is what I have to drink with the meal. Back in the day, my drink of choice was cheap, American beer. After that, I really started to appreciate craft and international beer. But since I started working at Coppercraft, spirits have taken over my pallet; specifically Gin and Tonics. They are refreshing and light. It pairs perfectly with a heavier meal such as my Gang Kiew Wan. The citrus from the lime and the botanicals from the Gin bring out the spices of Thai food, maybe muddle a little basil for a dramatic twist? Unfortunately, Thai Palace doesn’t have Coppercraft, I’ll work on it and imagine what a G&T would taste like at Thai Palace if it was made with Coppercraft Gin. With the 13 botanicals that Coppercraft blends, it really would be the best of both worlds.
For Easter weekend, Dave and I went north, to Gaylord and Traverse City. I’d never been to the area, so the cold and the rolling hills impressed me. We drove to Sleeping Bear Dunes and I thought the day was perfect right there, in the fresh lake air on top of a dune. But I was wrong. After hiking the dunes, we hopped from Traverse City Whiskey Co. (not to be confused with Grand Traverse Distillery!), to Right Brain Brewery, to Low Bar, a speakeasy-style craft cocktail lounge. As craft barkeeps ourselves, we loved the throwback environment at Low Bar. An inauspicious elevator took us down to the dimly lit bar, brightened by just a few candles and glossy leather chairs. And what was the first spirit on their featured spirits list? Coppercraft Rye Malt Whiskey. Oh yeah–go Coppercraft. So I ordered the Boss (because I’m a boss) and Dave ordered a Jack Rose (because he’s a beautiful flower) with Coppercraft Applejack. I’m excited to see how far Coppercraft goes this summer, as it branches into more craft bars like Low Bar.
Earning my degree in recording has led me through some pretty interesting adventures and as a result I’ve heard so much great music and seen the inner workings of many different venues. In my final term last summer, I fulfilled the ‘live sound management’ requirement of my degree by running sound at Salt of the Earth down in Fennville and I’ve been behind the board most every week ever since. Each week I hear fantastic performance and eat a phenomenal meal. I know, pretty tough gig – but somehow I get through it. One of the highlights for me is definitely the libations. Mr. Victor Cruz always has great Michigan beers and ciders on tap, and he can always point you toward the proper wine, but even better are the handcrafted cocktails he serves. The Hutchins 75 is a fantastic way to taste both Coppercraft Gin and Applejack in context – perfectly complemented by Michigan cider, lemon, and grenadine. But if that doesn’t suit your fancy, then SotE has most of our spirits on hand and they know how to use them. The staff is courteous and knowledgeable, the food and drink is marvelous, and the music sounds particularly well balanced if I do say so myself.
As a preface to the blogs you will be seeing this month, the idea was posed to our staff as to what restaurant they would love to see Coppercraft in. It could be any restaurant in the world but solid information must be provided as to why this was their choice. On the flip side of this, current accounts are fair game as well. So, welcome to April and let the blogs begin!
My restaurant of choice is actually a current account of Coppercraft Distillery. The Sandy Point Beach House. Sandy Point is located on Lakeshore Drive in West Olive, MI, on your way towards Grand Haven. I chose Sandy Point primarily because of their food. Honestly, I think they do some of the best food in the area and put a creative twist on American fare. As far as small plates go, they have everything from Bacon Wrapped Dates, Mac & Cheese and my personal favorite, Pierogies! I have been eating Pierogies ever since I was a child and they’re one of my all time favorite foods. Sandy Point does a great job with them, topping them with green onions, caramelized onions and a stone ground mustard on the side (Much different than my mother pulling them out of the freezer). They also do a mean Black & Blue Burger, awesome steaks, seafood and salads. It’s nearly impossible to make a bad food selection at The Beach House.
In addition to this, I really enjoy the vibe. It’s a laid back establishment that doesn’t short its customers on class. As I walked in the other night, I thought, I bet you can get a great cocktail here, and you can! I really appreciate the balance they have been able to provide behind the bar. Of course you have your craft beers, domestics and wines but they also have an extensive cocktail menu with plenty of options for every connoisseur. As I sat eating my Pierogies, I sipped on a Green Giant. Snap Peas, Taragon and Coppercraft Gin. It was heavenly. I’m a fan of nearly all food and drink but a cocktail with Snap Peas had me hesitant. In the end, I was so happy I tried it. It wasn’t too sweet and was a perfect combination of crisp and refreshing. A cocktail that could be had all year round. On top of all this, the service is superb.
I sat at the bar, so as not to take up a table for just myself. Many times when eating and drinking at a bar your service may be spotty. This is not the case at Sandy Point. As I finished my Gin & Tonic, Tony was there ready to provide me with whatever else I needed. I engulfed my pierogies and he was there to make sure I was full. I sure wasn’t. I feel that if you leave a restaurant having had one small plate, you have not done yourself justice. Also, the term small plate just implies that you have to have more than one! He was great at making suggestions for customers and providing them with the perfect glass of wine, beer or spirit for their mood, food or occasion. It’s very refreshing to go into a restaurant and have an experience that hits on all cylinders.
From the gal who was happy to see me when I walked in, to the regulars surrounding the bar and the wait staff running food my Sandy Point experience was top notch, which made me very proud to have Coppercraft Spirits a part of that. Next time you’re trying to figure out where to have dinner, be sure to look up Sandy Point. It is a ways out there but after leaving you will realize that it was totally worth it. When you swing in and order your Gin & Tonic, be sure to ask for Coppercraft Gin. Sandy Point currently serves Coppercraft Gin & Rye Whiskey. Two great spirits for a great establishment!
Black & Blue Burger
One of the primary reasons for beginning Coppercraft Distillery was to offer what we believe is the highest quality experience to our customers based on crafting a locally focused portfolio of products. We take great pride and care when it comes to each and every decision that ultimately impacts our customers and products. We labor over what might appear to most to be considered the minutia, believing that the old adage: “The Devil is in the Details,” is a truism which cannot be ignored if we are truly committed to exceeding our customers ever increasing expectations in regards to providing an exceptional product and experience to all those who choose Coppercraft.
We are proud to announce that five of Coppercraft’s spirits were recently recognized at the Denver International Spirits Competition that took place on March 7th and 8th 2015. According to the event’s organizer, The Wine County Network, Inc., the awards were based on the evaluation of a prestigious panel of 15 of America’s most respected spirits authorities utilizing a double blind scoring format based on a 100-point scale.
The following Coppercraft spirits entered recognition from the judges-
Silver Medal Coppercraft Gin
Silver Medal Coppercraft Genever
Silver Medal Coppercraft Rum (no gold medal awarded in the category)
Silver Medal Coppercraft Rye Malt Whiskey
Gold Medal Coppercraft 100% Corn Whiskey
Being recognized by the esteemed panel of judges is certainly an honor – but further it is an experience that outright humbles. We do what we do because we love it – it fuels us! Having the opportunity to connect our customers and products creating a memorable, or as we like to say, a Coppercraft experience is best summarized when we are asked how we are doing, the response is from our soul – “We are Living the Dream!”
In good spirits~
So many things to think about…
Recently – I have been pondering what makes a Coppercraft experience truly a unique and memorable experience or as I like to say a Coppercraft experience?
There were recent times where I was reminded that starting a distillery is no easy task. I learned – sometimes the hard way – that tomorrow can be even more difficult than today. When a minute detail becomes the main focus of the day that was initially planned quite differently – you are presented with a choice. The options, as I see them, are to give into the challenge or to overcome and persevere.
Being part of an organization that does not accept failure is a wicked awesome experience. I am reminded of this on a daily basis, as I am one of the fortunates that have the opportunity to be a part of The Coppercraft Team. We all deal with something that does not go as planned each day – a customer who does not like a cocktail, a mash that has no desire to transfer into the fermentation tanks or an event that does not transpire as anticipated. Well – back to the options. This team is here to make a difference with each customer, each product and each event.
Strangely, I greatly enjoy seeing the ability of each person to adapt to the situation they encounter with the sole focus always to be providing a Coppercraft experience.
So, like I said, so many things to think about…
In exceptional spirits,
Every once in while, a particular mother-daughter duo come in to get a drink and I know that I’m in for a time. I learned at an early age that, outside of carnival jobs, I should probably not estimate anyone’s age, however, I would guess the mother is in her later 80’s – not that you would know by talking with her. I’ve rarely met someone so full of energized life and who so vigilantly awaits any open spot in a conversation to crack a knee-slapper. But even better than her jokes are her stories. In her younger years she was a bartender at rather rowdy pub and every once in a while she had to lay down the law. While she is on the shorter side, you can tell in her no-nonsense attitude that she is a fierce force to be reckoned with (and she is evidently not afraid to bust out a can of whoopin’ with a pool cue). Naturally someone so awesome needs an awesome cocktail to supplement the storytelling, and thus it becomes my job to find such a fitting cocktail. I know that she prefers the boozier cocktails, so I tend to point in direction of our now-classic Vodka Old Fashioned or the delectable special, the Chauncey. As a bartender, there is always a moment of anxious anticipation on the first sip where you see the immediate, candid reaction to your work. You always want that reaction to be supremely positive but for this woman, as a long-time imbiber and honest critic, that first sip is nerve-wracking. Luckily I’m working with fine spirits and tasty house-made mixers, so I have yet to disappoint my favorite customer.
My parents moved around a lot while I was growing up. I’ve continued the tradition into young adulthood, shifting from Oregon to Michigan for college and then flying back and forth between the two for school breaks. That wasn’t quite enough though, so I studied abroad twice. I like the unfamiliar, the challenging. There’s a certain thrill in showing up somewhere and being utterly unknown. But there’s far more meaning in returning somewhere and being known. The Regulars at Coppercraft Distillery have demonstrated that for me.
At the Distillery, we serve and speak with many people, and our actions/words come to feel routine after a few hours of working a given shift. What breaks the routine is seeing the familiar face of a well-liked customer. It’s a similar feeling to splashing your face with clean water on a muggy day. In both cases, you don’t realize how much you need it until you get that relief.
I love the banter we get to have with our Regulars too. With a known person, we can cut through the small talk junk and connect on a deeper level. Furthermore, being able to meet a customer’s needs the way we can with a Regular customer is satisfying. Their tastes become familiar to us after a time. “You’ve had a tough day?” we can say, “You need a Rye Manhattan.” (Then again, when doesn’t a person need a Rye Manhattan?)
Anyway, don’t be shy. Stop by Coppercraft Distillery, and then stop by a few more times.
About once a week, I see a mother and her son come into Coppercraft together. The mom looks busy, the son as stressed as a college student in his last semester of college would be. I joke that he is the kind of kid that only a mother could love, but the reason I can ruse like this is because he is my roommate.
My roommate came home from one of these “meetings” about 3 months ago with a bottle of Coppercraft Rye Whiskey to share with the house. It just so happened that a day later, as I was perusing the Internet, I found an open position at this local Coppercraft distillery. I picked my roommates brain and took off to the interview, hoping for the best. Well, here I sit writing a blog for that distillery with my roommate across the living room. It is the type of customers like my roommate and his mother that get me excited to go to work each day.
There is a fine line to ride in college, one that ebbs between developing independence and continuing to strengthen relationships with the ones who perhaps enabled you to even attend college. Well, Coppercraft all but erases that line with its unique and welcoming environment, not to mention the drinks. A good drink is shared, problems are stewed over, and relationships are fortified. The stressed college student can vent to his mother, fill her in on all that is going on in his life, and maybe even divulge in enough drink from the distillery that he discloses his latest girlfriend or college story to his ever-interested mother. On the other side of the table sits a busy mother, stressed with work and everyday life, who can confide in her son and leave the distillery livened and joyful. On her end, perhaps she divulges enough in the drinks in front of her to entertain her son with stories from her past and his childhood.
This mother-son relationship is just one of many relationships that I see day in and day out at the distillery. Parents bringing in kids, kids bringing in parents, friends connecting with old friends, and even employees trying to impress their bosses. I can assure you that any easy, or even tough, conversation can be better had at Coppercraft with a drink at hand. Allow us, at Coppercraft, to give you a joyful environment that you can welcome friends or family members into, we would love to get to know them!
Invite someone new, invite an old pal, or maybe even the old fling from the past. We at the distillery will facilitate any conversation in the form of bright spirits and rad cocktails. I would wager, as my roommate does, that whomever you invite just may end up paying for the drinks (and a couple bottles to share with roommates).
Coppercraft cocktails taste awesome because of the use of fresh ingredients. What makes them amazing is the creativity. One of those uses is incorporating Fustini’s balsamic vinaigrette into our cocktails. Fustini’s is a local Holland store, but originated in Traverse City, MI, and even has a location in Maui! Hello! For more information on Fustini’s, check out their website www.fustinis.com.
My first experience with Fustini’s in a cocktail was last summer, the Berry Cooler. It had fresh berries, vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, topped with soda and a drizzle of Fustini’s Tangerine Balsamic. I heard a lot of comments like “I would never think to put balsamic in a cocktail.” Yes, I never would have either. Ironically, all my favorite drinks have some sort of Fustini’s in it. After the Berry Cooler, came the Bison, which has corn whiskey, Fustini’s Red Apple Balsamic, fresh basil and a maple brown sugar cube. But wait, there’s more. My personal favorite: The Rye-Ugula, rye whiskey, fresh baby arugula, Fustini’s Ginger-Honey Balsamic and crushed pepper. I cannot get enough of this drink. Seriously, it’s amazing. I am assuming it’s healthy too because of the baby arugula, right?
The balsamic flavors can be as vibrant or subtle as you need. I had no idea how many uses that vinegar and oil can provide, whether it’s cocktails or food.
I am proud to say we make amazing cocktails, and I am proud to say we support local businesses, in this case, Fustini’s.