At Matchbook Distilling Company in Greenport, N.Y., the typical sounds you expect to hear on a production floor are especially absent today. Instead of producing house mixes under the Matchbook name on a daily basis, a lean team led by industry veterans Leslie Merinoff Kwasnieski and Paul Monahan is contracting clients like Michelin-starred Uncle Boons to design customized spirit mixes available only at their client's location. The distillery even went so far as to buy and renovate an old Victorian mansion to turn it into a hotel and bar, The Lin Beach House, where clients can stay while working to create their signature spirit. Since today's guests have more opportunities than ever before to experience food and drink in an exciting way, the idea of a bespoke distillery that develops spirits especially for restaurants and other customers is only a matter of time.
However, you may be surprised to find that you do not have to visit a fancy cocktail bar or an expensive restaurant to find a place that has a bottle you cannot find on a liquor store. For dining trends that truly resonate with guests, from globally acclaimed brands such as Patrón and Woodford Reserve to regional craft distilleries such as Minneapolis Tattersall Distilling and Seattle's Copperworks Distilling, you can offer a signature spirit you won't find anywhere else. become a restaurant powerhouse. And it is embraced by distilleries that are even located in the most sacred places: the Bourbon country.
A Trend Breaks With Tradition on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
At Maker's Mark in Loretto, Ky., The bourbon manufacturer known for hand-dipping the bottles in wax is also responsible for launching a unique customization trend. Maker's Mark Private Select program, which began in late 2015 and released its first barrel in spring 2016, is one of the most popular options for chefs and restaurants interested in creating their own signature bourbon. The program, which started as a way to give the distillery's local partners something special in Kentucky, now has a six-month wait for customers across the country to make a barrel of bourbon at the distillery. Then the bourbon takes six months to complete aging before bottling, recording and shipping.
But what really make these products and the program remarkable? "Since each barrel with Maker's Mark is theoretically identical, it wouldn't make much sense for us to let customers choose their own that would be exactly the same as the next guy," explains Jane Bowie, director of Private Select and Head of Innovation at Maker's Mark. So we created our barrel program to actually allow customers to have a hand in creating their very own whiskey barrel by adding ten custom woodworking bars in the barrel of Maker's Mark bourbon. The finishing bars can be any combination of five spell styles, each producing its own flavor profile, and selected for this program when highlighting existing flavors already found in classic Maker's Mark. ”
To separate the process from that of other distilleries, Woodford Reserve batches two barrels together, as opposed to a single barrel, to create a unique taste for customers such as Gallery Restaurant at The Ballantyne Hotel in Charlotte, NC Although we can wait for the restaurant industry in some cases, in some cases, can wait for the restaurant industry, the value of offering guests something the competition is not priceless. It is also not exceptionally expensive. "If you know you can sell bourbon, it's not a significant investment. Our commitment was a barrel of Private Select, which equates to about 40 cases," says Jason Berry, owner of Succotash, Washington, DC
Why Chefs, Bartenders and Distillers Actually Do Love This Dining Trend
"As a chef and restaurant owner, you are always looking for unique and special things to bring to your guests. Being able to partner with another very creative local business to Developing my own signature whiskey to serve at my restaurants was a very natural progression, says chef Justin Sutherland.In collaboration with Tattersall to create his own signature whiskey for his Minneapolis and St. Paul restaurants, the chef found the process of working with the distillery easily since he knew he wanted a taste in flavors.
"Justin wanted a whiskey that would fit well with BBQ and smoked meat. The mesquite smoked single malt immediately stood out as the key component, and we used applewood and chocolate malted whiskey to round out and balance the flavors, says Jon Kreidler, Tattersall's founder and chief.
Chef Edward Lee took a different approach to Succotash's modern southern menu. "We ended up with a recipe that is a mix of roasted French spices, baked American and French Cuvée spelled Maker's Mark 46," explains Berry.
Although no recipes are ever the same for any restaurant client, the common theme of chefs, bartenders, and distillers burning for flavor profiles is a major reason for these partnerships to succeed.
"Bar and restaurant staff sometimes join us for a day of distillation or help us temper the mood," said Jason Parker, co-founder and president of Copperworks Distilling Company. "Other times, we work together to produce a custom product, coded between the bar or restaurant staff and our Copperworks team."
Copperworks has created custom barrel-aged gins for Seattle restaurants, including Heartwood Provisions and The Metropolitan Grill. Chefs also tend to already know the specific flavor profiles they are looking for, which helps speed up the process.
It's not just the chefs having fun, since the distilleries learn a lot about the best ways to get specific flavors. “We've had restauran ts lean into some of the lighter, brighter and spicier notes,” says Bowie. "Wood doesn't always bring out these flavors, so we've learned to pair certain types of wood with the whiskey to make the fruit shine through more."
With both restaurants and distilleries committed to innovation, where the future drink to pair with the next meal is on the verge of a breakthrough. For now, guests can have fun exploring what unique fluid creations might be worth coming back for. "We've had Japanese-style restaurants to make a maker to pair with sushi," says Bowie. "It's a whole different taste for Bourbon, for sure, but we've managed to get there."
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