Shop + Learn: American Craft

In 1980, just before the beginning of the modern craft movement, there were fewer than 100 distilleries in the United States. By 2000, the US still had only 24 "craft" distilleries, concentrated in just 12 states. By 2011 that number was up to 234, and in the last ten years the industry has fully taken off in the footsteps of craft beer, now boasting over 2,000 craft distilleries including more than one in every single state. Still, almost half of craft distillers operate in just one state. Here we feature two American brands leading the way in vodka, gin and whiskey production, as well as our Ready to Drink cocktails by Death & Co which have featured American craft and these distilleries in their first release.

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  • Modern American Gin

    Also called "New Western," indicating that this is the Wild West of gin. The category encompasses basically any style of botanical distillate that doesn't fall directly under the categories of London dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, or Genever. Most take flavor or style cues from the classic gin styles, then add or subtract botanicals and experiment with different raw materials for the base spirit. As with all gins, juniper is a constant, though in varying degrees of intensity.

  • Whiskey with a Sense of Place

    The flexible approach to grain selection in the whiskey category originated to make use of the grains local to any given area. When European settlers arrived in what would eventually become the United States, they found an abundance of rye, and thus rye whiskey was born. When distillers moved over the Appalachian Mountains and settled in what is present-day Kentucky, they found that corn grew abundantly, giving rise to America's national treasure: bourbon. While the majority of American whiskey is made in the southern United States, especially Kentucky, many small distilleries are cropping up around the country, sharing their sense of place with the world.

  • Vodka with Character

    Lot's of people love vodka, and it's probably not just because they saw a clever advertisement for it. They love it because of its honesty: you get what you see. When we choose to use it in cocktails, we do so because it works - because its character, clarity, and focus can be helpful for achieving very specific results. Modern definitions of vodka talk about its "neutrality" and "flavorlessness," but this misses the point entirely. Well-made vodka often shines through better in a cocktail than on its own by adding qualities of sensation. Vodka made from wheat will provide softness and richness; from rye has a whisper of peppery spice; one made from potatoes tastes earthy and almost beet-like; corn vodka may be slightly sweet; and grape vodka has a floral perfume. Although subtle, try tasting them side by side so you can pick out the differences.

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Fellow Classics: Whiskey Highball

As Death & Co extensively explained in Cocktail Codex, every recipe is a riff on a classic. Here, we offer guidance on these templates as a great starting point for any original creation.

Fellow Tips: If you lean toward stronger-flavored whiskies, such as an Islay single-malt or American rye or bourbon, we suggest 5 oz of chilled seltzer to 2 oz of whiskey, while a more delicate Japanese whisky may call for a 4 oz to 2 oz ratio.

Woody Creek Distillers Straight Rye Whiskey