This past week, I made it up to Traverse City for a quick two-night stay with my wife. We stayed right near downtown at the Delamar Hotel, a fairly recent addition to the community. It has gone through more than $10 million in renovations since the Greenwich Hospitality Group’s $23 million acquisition of the West Bay Beach Holiday Inn early 2019.
Anyway, we did some of the normal winery hopping and such – read more about that further down the page. It’s always mind-blowing to me after making the approximately two hour drive how close the awesome destination is to Grand Rapids. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Traverse City Whiskey Co-Founder Chris Fredrickson and I used this trip as a chance to catch up with him and see what’s new with the brand.
Pat: What’s been going on with expansion?
Chris: It’s tough to kind of answer that in a totally thoughtful way, because there are lots of different ways to look at it, broke ground on 20,000-square-foot barrel rickhouse, a big beautiful building that will hold about 17,000 barrels. It’s quite large and the first of its kind in Michigan. So, the new facility, progress is underway. It’s supposed to b open, but for a myriad of reasons it fell behind schedule, mostly supply constraints. But we started with the rickhouse, as soon as that’s done moving to the big facility.
Pat: What about brand growth?
Chris: We’re in 32 states, and we activated Georgia, Texas and a few others, those are by far the biggest impact on the business. The core portfolio has continued gaining notoriety. But in edition to barrel proof bourbon and rye, the barrel proof wheat is coming of age and we’re doing a blitz this fall. It’s kind of under the
radar, but we had several hundred barrels hit their birthday in September and we’re debuting that across the country.
Chris: We have this very, very small dip at the end of summer, right after Labor Day, but then the color season, what we refer to as the color tour, there is an unusual surge and we’re right at the beginning of that. For the next month month and a half, people can expect to see a lot of activity around town. It’s a wonderful couples retreat for people in- or out-of-state. From us, we’re in the process of transforming the cocktail menu at the Stillhouse (201 E. 14th St. in Traverse City) to speak a little more fall. With production continuing to do tours by request and that and we have several fun releases coming out this fall in distribution. Our focus is on the barrel proof wheat and several value added packs that are great gift ideas for the holidays.
National Vodka Day
Another beverage holiday! October 4 is National Vodka Day, so naturally, I received tons of ideas from vodka brands. Belvedere, the Polish vodka made with rye, sent over the “Belvedere Cosmopolitan.”
1.5 oz Belvedere
1 oz orange liqueur
.75 oz fresh lime juice
.75 oz cranberry juice
Method: Place ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice, shake, strain into glass with lime wheel.
There were three other vodkas that have caught my eye, both earlier this year and in more recent vodka day pitches: Barr Hill Vodka, Upstate Vodka and _.
Barr Hill is made with 2,600 pounds of raw honey per batch. Unlike a lot of brands which tout as many distillations as possible for “purity,” Barr Hill boasts it is distilled no more than twice to retain honey character.
Upstate, from Upstate New York, is made with apples — up to 80 apples in each bottle. It’s light, crisp and a little sweet and certified gluten-free and Kosher.
Kastra Elionvodka is made from Olives in Greece. It’s a little buttery and features light olive notes; perfect for a martini.
Do you like Terry Bradshaw?
If you like listening to Terry Bradshaw during NFL Sunday, or watching him back when he played football, I’ve got good news for you! The man has a whiskey now. I think I might have mentioned the whiskey in the past, but Bradshaw Bourbon sent me a Blonde Bomber receipt, his take on the whiskey sour.
2 oz Bradshaw Bourbon
.75 oz of lemon juice
.75 oz simple syrup
Garnish with a cherry or lemon wedge.
What’s Pat Drinking?
As noted, my wife and I spent a few days up in Traverse City this weekend. We stayed at the Delamar Hotel, which has a great in-house restaurant, Artisan.
The last few times we’ve gone up, we’ve made sure to make a stop at Rare Bird Brewpub, which has nice beer but a really tasty menu. We also met some friends at an awesome spot called The Farm Club out on Leelanau Peninsula. Highly recommend a stop there. We also did some wineries, of course, including Mari Vineyards and Mawby. Unlike a lot of Michigan wineries, Mari prides itself on reds and they do a pretty solid job. Mawby, meanwhile, focuses on sparkling wines, with some really nifty varieties.