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Friday, April 24, 2015

#DrinkBetter: New Fashioned from Crescendo

Enjoy this delicious cocktail recipe from our friends at Crescendo Organic Spirits, producers of organic Limoncello, Arancello (orange) and Limecello.


Muddle 0.5 oz Arancello, 2 splashes Anogustra Bitters, 1 sugar cube & 1 cherry
Add ice & 2 oz local craft bourbon

Shake and Dump

Pour over fresh ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with thin orange peel

Crescendo Organic Spirits is a veteran owned company based in Eugene whose spirits are distributed throughout Oregon. Their products are free from GMO's and artificial ingredients and are priced below that of many other non-organic options.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

DSTILL 2015: The Showcase

Nothing brings people together like a good excuse to party. For me it started in my teenage years with a beat up old Mazda and the life changing discovery of my dad’s liquor cabinet which had, probably for my entire life, sat tucked behind his recliner in the living room. I quickly learned how much fun a good night out with friends can be, and what a good funnel of tap water can do to cover your trail.

Within a few years it was keg parties and college, jumping over the fence at the first sight of flashing lights and heading up to the ski slopes late the next morning to pass the time before night fell and the festivities started all over again. Fast forward six or seven more years and the desire is still burning bright, but due to previously unforeseen circumstances - like age, mortgage, and fiancé - these days it often takes a good cause to bring out the party.


Thanks to DSTILL and their Showcase of all things craft on April 16, myself and hundreds of the Mile High City’s other proud weeknight lushes were brought together at the McNichols Civic Center Building to sample everything from vodka to moonshine from 49 of the world’s micro and craft distilleries. By my count, a good 35 of them were from Colorado, and I distinctly recall noticing the represented talent stretching from New York all the way to LA.

I started off the night with some absinthe. Perhaps a bit extreme, but I walked by the Golden Moon Distillery booth three or four times trying to establish my placement in the room and each time I caught myself eyeing the product like the coyote that lives behind my house eyes my dog. I could not seem to justify kicking it off any other way.

Opened in 2012, Golden Moon’s take on the green dragon is one of the products that has helped brand the company. “We started off by making 500 bottles of absinthe,” said Brand Ambassador Noah Henry. “Then we started making other spirits and playing around.” For the record, this is the absinthe of legend, made famous for many in my generation by the movie Eurotrip, when the character played by the ever-so-luscious Michelle Tractenberg is caught making out with her brother after they both downed a good amount of the stuff at a nightclub. “We use antique stills. Our stills are all French and German stills from the 1930s, 1950s. They are very small. Our goal is to make the finest craft spirits and craft cocktails in the Colorado market.”

With that absinthe, they might not be too far off. But what about something to stir in, to mellow out that taste of spoiled licorice? Or, if absinthe isn’t your thing, perhaps you are craving a little vodka? Well, you are in luck my friend.

What happened next was, if I do say so myself, a dose of absinthe-infused genius. As I slowly walked around the two-floor event taking it all in, mingling with fellow media folk, and even raising a toast with the mother of DSTILL founder Rob Masters, it hit me- here is all this booze, almost every type of distilled spirit I’d ever heard of, all in one building. A small horde of Denver’s finest eateries sampling their signature dishes paired with their signature cocktails. This event is the ultimate orgasm inducer for every opulent booze hound, a near free-for-all of toasty bliss for the mere price of admission. Every vendor here was trying to impress, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been impressed so far. But now it was time to take it up notch. It was time to create my own cocktail. Or, at least, take a well-known drink and kick it up a notch. Something that wasn’t on the menu tonight.

So I stopped by the Altitude Spirits booth on the top floor, a great company based in Boulder. I had seen their vodka around before tonight but had never tried it. “We’re a little bit like the black sheep for this party,” says Altitude Spirits president and co-founder Matthew Baris. “Everybody here is all about American craft spirits and our company is about awesome craft spirits from around the world. We have a London dry gin that is actually distilled in London by the smallest licensed distillery in the UK. We have the world’s only fair trade organic certified rum. We’re all about awesome craft spirits from everywhere.” I was here for their sole non-import, however. Baris poured me some vodka and I headed back downstairs to grab some mixer.

“The color comes from the ginger root itself as opposed to chemicals or colorings,” says Josh Morton, the founder of Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. I took a sample in my glass, squeezed in some lime, stirred, and sipped. Not a bad Mule I’d created for myself. Plus, Barrow’s is 44 proof, a large jump from the typical non-alcoholic ginger beer generally found in the drink. Morton even showed me his recipe for a Moscow Mule Shot, which is made up of 1 part Barrow’s on the bottom, 1 part vodka, and a squeeze of lime. “I love the idea of using craft liqueur in a shot because people think a shot is down-market and craft is (higher). A lot of people take craft too serious, so I like the idea of humanizing craft liqueur."

I had it. I dubbed it the Mile High Mule. It’s so simple. Take the best thing we’ve gotten from Russia (outside of the Miracle On Ice, of course) and make it entirely craft, and entirely potent. As American as it gets.

I finished off the night at the booth of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery, which is based in Salida, CO. “We mash, ferment, distill, age, and bottle all of our products on site,” says proprietor Lee Wood. These guys focus in depth on what they do, with three types of gin, two whiskys, and something I’d never heard of, an elderflower liqueur. “We source Colorado wines, distill that into a high-proof brandy. We then take it and distill it a third time through our gin distilling process, but instead of gin botanical we replace that with elderflower. We sweeten it with a raspberry honey from right here in Colorado.” Certainly not a bad night cap.

This event, at its core, is meant to showcase small-batch American craft spirits, and they do an amazing job. It is well organized, full of very friendly vendors and guests, and the amount of hard work each vendor in the room has put it in order to be here is overwhelmingly apparent. What I noticed about every distillery I spoke with is that each one has a story derived from pursuing passion and keeping it local, and that is exactly what this industry needs.

The boys from Avery, Ska, Great Divide, and Odell breweries hosted an open beer bar from 10 o’oclock until 11 for those who didn’t want the party to end. As for me, the aforementioned fiancĂ© is heading down to pick me up, so I’ll have to save the after party for another time.

Golden Moon Distillery: 412 Violet St., Golden, CO 80401,

Altitude Spirits: PO Box 1437, Boulder, CO 80306,

Barrow’s Intense Ginger Lqueur:

Wood’s High Mountain Distillery: 144 W. 1st Street, Salida, CO 81201,

Tim Wenger is a Denver-based journalist, musician and avid snowboarder. Catch his work in Colorado Music Buzz, MicroShiner, Snowboard Colorado, and his weekly talk show on

Photos courtesy of Chris Haugen

Friday, April 17, 2015

#DrinkBetter: Prickly Pear Lemonade from Crescendo

We are excited to introduce our new friends at Crescendo Organic Spirits, producers of organic Limoncello, traditional Italian liqueur perfect for sipping, as well as an Arancello (orange) and Limecello.

Crescendo is a veteran owned company based in Eugene whose spirits are distributed throughout Oregon. Their products are free of GMO's and artificial ingredients and are priced below that of other non-organic, non local, and certainly not as tasty, options.

Try their Limoncello in this refreshing cocktail, ideal for sunny afternoons. 

Prickly Pear Lemonade

1 oz local craft vodka
1 oz Limoncello
1.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz prickly pear juice (less if syrup)
0.25 oz simple syrup (or to taste)

Shake & pour into a 16oz glass. Add ice (and a splash of club soda, if desired).

Garnish with a half lemon moon.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Issue Coming Soon!

As we wrap up the Spring issue of MicroShiner magazine, we are hardly able to contain our excitement. It has been our honor and privilege to create this issue and tell the story of the Women of Craft, and we are looking forward to sharing it with you soon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Laying It All Out There

While some producers are burying the source of distillation in some hidden corner of their label, others, like Steel Toe Distillery in tiny Potomac, Montana are putting it front and center. Its an example of what it means to truly be authentic, to accept who you are and own it without reservation.

We respect the hell out of it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Strong Statement on Weak Spirits

In light of the recent article in the Des Moines Register about the efforts of Templeton Rye to settle two class action consumer fraud lawsuits through mediation, it seemed a good time to make a strong statement on what can best be described as weak spirits.

A little over a year ago, sitting in a room at the American Distilling Institute convention in Seattle, listening to an industry type drone on about revenue and margins, it was hard to imagine there was once a time when producers made things for entirely different reasons. They were economical, to be sure, but they weren't based around ‘how much cash can be sucked out of this venture before we liquidate?’. In those days, that person usually got left in the sun for their bones to bleach.

The first thing any craft spirit acolyte should know is that there are labels out there who are marketing sourced spirits. Whether sourcing neutral grain spirits as the base for another product or simply buying aged whiskey in bulk, the economics behind the practice are the same. Sourced spirits are readily available, buying them is much cheaper than capitalizing a true production facility, and they can be sold at a very high margin with a little creative marketing i.e. labeling them as ‘craft’.

There are many places on the internet where you can go to read about why that is wrong, mostly relating to the fact its illegal. The U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau requires that location of distillation be included on any spirit label; failure to do so, truthfully, will likely result in a lawsuit. But that doesn't absolve anyone of the responsibility to actually read it.

The other fact is that some of these producers using sourced spirits make really exceptional stuff. Whistle Pig, a Vermont label based on Canadian whiskey, has received significant praise. The success of Templeton Rye itself is testament to its perceived flavor and quality. And if that is all you are basing your decision on, there is no reason not to drink it.

However, if your intent is to support something else, like your local micro-distiller or the Craft Movement, then supporting producers who make use of sourced spirits is counter-productive. Either way, the decision ultimately rests with you.

Fortunately, for those of us who strive to support companies that are working to change the spirits marketplace, and perhaps the world, there are lots of options, often right in our own backyard. Honest, hard-working producers like Dry Fly Distilling and TOPO Spirits whose business motivations and practices look beyond the bottom line. Companies whose owners are leaders in their communities and who have made difficult and substantial effort to do it right.

Our recommendation is to seek out and buy craft spirits from one of them. As always, MicroShiner is here to help you make the connection.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Time Lapse from TOAST 2015

On March 7th, the MicroShiner crew followed the Oregon Distillery Trail to the Leftbank Annex in Portland, OR to enjoy a night of craft spirits at TOAST, the Oregon Distillers Guilds' annual tasting event.

Here is a fun time-lapse of the event that captures what it means to be a MicroShiner in #PDX!