In the roaring twenties, Detroit fueled prohibition and an entrepreneurial spirit that didn't follow the rules. A century later, eight childhood friends started a small distillery to make alcohol the old fashion way.
Detroit City Distillery creates small batch artisanal whiskey, gin and vodka using the finest local ingredients sourced directly from farms near our distillery and tasting room located in Detroit's famed Eastern Market. The result is a drink of distinction made for the revolutionaries rewriting the history of a great American city.
Historic Eastern Market
Detroit, MI 48207
Our philosophy behind our spirits is simple: we make what we want to drink. We make young, high proof whiskies to elevate the taste of the finest organic, locally grown Michigan grains. We make experimental gins using the botanicals sourced just two blocks from our front door. Sometimes we even grow our own wheat for whiskey or pine for gin. This is what happens when farm boys turn city slickers and open a distillery in America’s oldest, largest public farmers market.
After a long winter of mass whiskey consumption, we decided that we needed to drink more gin come summer. We turned into a gin joint for three months and had a damn good time doing it. We called it the “Summer of Gin.” Enjoy our inaugural 2015 small batch gin release until we make something completely different next summer.
At Detroit City Distillery we consistently craft small batch bespoke spirits to experiment with distillation, ingredients and experience. These rare spirits may be made on a limited basis or one time only. Limited edition and experimental spirits can only be found at Detroit City Distillery tasting room.
In the summer of 2015 we decided we needed to drink more gin. We made 5 small batch spirits and hosted cocktail competitions for each one. We called it the "Summer of Gin." We invited Detroit's best bartending talent behind our bar and from what little we remember it was a damn good time. At the end of the summer the winners came together to compete for the title of Ginsmith of the Year..... and Chas Williams emerged as the victor.
This summer Detroit City Distillery was honored to collaborate with Chas Williams from The Oakland Art Novelty Company to produce "Shopkeeper's Gin."
Now it's time to drink it..... Monday, August 29 we partner with Chas and the Detroit Chapter of the United States Bartender's Guild to release Shopkeeper's for the 2016 Ginsmith Competition. Detroit's finest get behind the stick to see who can make the best cocktail with Shopkeeper's. An esteemed panel of judges and the public at large choose the 2016 Ginsmith of the Year and the creator of next year's specialty summer spirit. Doors at 6 PM. Competition at 7 PM.
- Nate Bonkowski of Chartreuse
- Beaux Carin of Sugarhouse
- James Downs of Selden Standard
- Dorothy Elizabeth of Standby
- Roger Fruin of the Oakland
- Drew Pompa of Katoi.
Chas tells the story that inspired the spirit....
I wanted to create a gin that was both citrusy and spicy while staying true to what a traditional gin should taste like. I wanted to limit myself to a few botanicals, but I wanted to create something that was complex in the process. I chose five ingredients - grapefruit, juniper, coriander, orris root and cinnamon.
It was important to me to have the gin be able to stand on its own but not be so bold as to overpower other ingredients. I took time while developing the recipe to try different variations in classic cocktails - a dry martini, last word, Tom Collins, and gin and tonic. For me the gin had to do well across the board, not have a single application in which it was "best".
The name "Shopkeeper's" brings together my family ties and embodies the basic philosophy behind the gin. It starts with my family's history in Detroit, almost 100 years ago, in the early 1900's. My great grandfather owned a store at the end of the block he lived on in Detroit. This puts it in an old Jewish neighborhood, one that had a Purple Gang presence. The Purple Gang began as hired muscle by collecting protection money from vendors in Eastern Market, the location of Detroit City Distillery.
Thanks to my sister, who has done a lot of research into our family history, I know what street my great grandfather lived on. If his store was at the end of that block then it would have been only a few blocks away from The Oakland Sugar House. A speakeasy whose name has inspired the name of a couple local cocktail bars, one of which I work at.
I really loved creating a gin that could tell my personal story and what I stand for. It offers something for everyone. And that is mark of a great shopkeeper.
Tour/Tastings with 4 one ounce tastes - $15/person
Detroit City Distillery is proud to be carried by the finest purveyors of craft spirits across Michigan. The map below features some of our favorite independent grocers and liquor stores. A comprehensive listing of retail locations can be found here.
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