The locally-sourced food movement has grown beyond food to include beverages, and it’s making a big impact on the Triangle. If you fancy the idea of whiskeys and vodkas made from N.C.-based ingredients, you’re in luck!
The News & Observer recently published a piece about the boom in popularity of distilleries in North Carolina. You can read the full article here. Today, there are 33 licensed distilleries in the state, according to the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Commission, with several pending approval. About 30 of those have opened in the last five years.
This got me thinking: Ever since Fair Game Beverage Co. opened in Pittsboro a few years ago, I’ve really seen N.C.-crafted spirits take off. Here are three reasons why I believe it’s become so popular (and three ways you can celebrate!):
Reason No. 1: Locally-sourced ingredients are popular everywhere.
Across the culinary board, people are flocking to restaurants that obtain their ingredients from farms within the area. This “farm-to-fork” style operation has grown in popularity over the years: Just look at Oakleaf and Angelina’s Kitchen, two popular farm-to-fork restaurants in Pittsboro.
“People want to know where what they’re eating and drinking comes from, and some people are very interested in keeping their money local,” Scott Maitland, vice president of the N.C. Distillers Association, told the N&O.
Nowadays, the idea has taken on a whole new meaning in the distillery world: Instead of farm-to-fork, whiskey makers offer “grain-to-glass,” which operates based on similar principles. For example, local sweet potatoes are the base for Covington Vodka, made in Snow Hill, N.C.
In Pittsboro, Fair Game Beverage Co. is using locally-sourced sorghum instead of the traditional molasses to make No’Lasses rum, also called Sorghum Rhum. Since 2009, the restaurant has used sorghum cane from Okfuskee Farm in Silk Hope, N.C., to make its spirits.
According to distillery history, Fair Game operators Chris and Bobby purchased an antique, working, three-roller cane mill to squeeze the sorghum juice, which is then taken to the distillery for fermentation. This process is very sustainable: Okfuskee takes the leftover remnants from the mill and uses it as organic matter throughout the farm.
The sorghum syrup then goes through a fermentation process before a double distillation turns it into spirits of about 130 proof. After aging in oak barrels, the spirits are ready for you to enjoy.
The best part about this process is you can see it happen at a distillery tour and tasting, 5 – 8 p.m. every Wednesday through Friday, and 1 – 5 p.m. on the weekends. (Call or email to reserve your space.) Tours are $10 and include a tasting and souvenir glass. Tastings available for $5 and include a souvenir glass.
Fair Game Beverage Co. Info:
193 Lorax Lane
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Reason No. 2: Local distilleries and breweries are fun!
Now that distilleries are becoming more of a norm in North Carolina, thanks to recent changes in alcohol laws, people are enjoying everything from weeknight trivia to Texas Hold ‘Em! That’s right: In addition to a refined distillery experience (like the Fair Game Beverage Co. tour above), you can let your risk-loving side out at the Pittsboro Roadhouse.
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., you can join a game of Texas Hold ‘Em for free. Besides prizes for first and second place, the event includes karaoke and even a round of Minecraft for kids. The restaurant tries to make this a family-friendly event, so bring everyone, beginners included! Poker coaches will be on hand to teach you the ropes if you’ve never played before.
Need another incentive? If you bring in a box of Little Debbie’s (or a similar brand) cakes to go toward the Pittsboro Roadhouse Sunday Senior Meal delivery program, you get 5,000 extra chips.
39 West Street
Parking on street and across the street in lot.
If you have questions, email Heather Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reason No. 3: N.C. Distilleries are forming great partnerships to benefit YOU:
Partnerships with local restaurants: TOPO Distillery — owned by Scott Maitland, who also owns Top of the Hill Brewery and Restaurant in Chapel Hill — partners with ACME Food and Beverage Co. in Carrboro to create some fantastic-looking drinks. For example, the “Scuppernog Collins,” is made from TOPO Organic Piedmont Gin, scuppernong juice, lemon juice, syrup and Club Soda. Garnish with a scuppernog grape, it looks good doesn’t it?
Partnerships with ABC stores: Many Triangle-based distilleries are also forming partnerships with the ABC stores so you can purchase your own N.C.-distilled whiskey. Due to legal restrictions, distilleries are not allowed to ship spirits purchased in an online marketplace. Not to worry! Distilleries across the Triangle, such as Seventy Eight C Spirits, Inc. and TOPO Organic Spirits, sell their product to ABC stores across the state.
Want a complete list of Triangle distilleries? Here you go (courtesy of the N&O):
- Barrister & Brewer, Durham. Mystic, a spiced bourbon liqueur. whatismystic.com
- Broadslab Distillery, Benson. Moonshine-style corn whiskey, and white and spiced rums. broadslabdistillery.com
- Brothers Vilgalys, Durham. Krupnikas, a Lithuanian-style spiced honey liqueur. brothersvilgalys.com
- Covington Spirits, Snow Hill: Vodka made from North Carolina sweet potatoes. covingtonvodka.com
- Durham Distillery, Durham. Gin. durhamdistillery.com
- Fair Game Beverage Co., Pittsboro. Apple brandy, and rum made from sorghum. fairgamebeverage.com
- Pebble Brook Spirits, Durham. Apple pie liqueur. pebblebrookspirits.com
- Raleigh Rum Co., Raleigh. White and aged rums. raleighrumcompany.com
- Seventy Eight ºC Spirits, Raleigh. Limoncello, jalapeno limoncello and blood orange limoncello.
- TOPO Organic Spirits, Chapel Hill. Vodka, whiskey and gin. topodistillery.com