Bloomington, IN: Cardinal Spirits

A new distillery just opened (yesterday!) in Bloomington. Cardinal Spirits is right on the B-Line trail at 922 S. Morton St. (just down the road from Hopscotch -- and yes, you can get spiked Hopscotch coffee here) and is open from 10am-10pm every day.

I signed up for their newsletter many weeks ago and received an invitation to their soft opening this past weekend. Eric had some work to do, and apparently so did everyone else I contacted to see who wanted to join me, except for my friend D, so off we went on Sunday evening as a pre-dinner end-of-the-weekend send off.

We got there about 5pm and it was about half full! There is bar seating, several more tables in front, and this back area with a bookshelf (you can read about liquor while you drink it). I waited until this area was empty to take this photo.

We sat at the bar, right in front of a bartender station (best place to sit). I loved the flowers decorating the bar. Right now all they serve up is vodka (regular vodka as well as a flavored darker one, and a honey-vanilla is on its way), but they're in the process of getting a whisky ready to go, as well as gin and other liquors. The wall is lined with bottles and bottles of vodka. Some of it goes in drinks here and some of it goes home with you - yep, you can buy their vodka right from the bar (it's $25 per bottle).

Besides drinks, they also serve up appetizer-type plates (cheese and meat boards). Since both of us were planning on eating dinner later, we passed on the food and just got a drink each to try. We both had a really hard time choosing which drink to get. Everything sounded good and I was between the Prelude, the Cardinal Sling, and the Moscow Mule. (I got on a Moscow Mule kick in Florida.) We tried the flavored vodka that goes in the Prelude and it was tasty but wasn't what I was in the mood for. D was going back and forth between these three options as well, and almost got the Prelude, but decided on the Moscow Mule instead. I got the Cardinal Sling and was very happy with it.

Here's my Cardinal Sling:

And here's D's Moscow Mule, served in branded copper mug (the CS logo is on the other side) with a metal straw. Both of our drinks were really good.

I had seen that eventually CS would be giving tours of the distillery, so I asked our bartender if we might be able to get one. She said sure and sent our tour guide/head taster Logan out to meet us around the bar. I had never been on a distillery tour, so I can't compare it to anything else, but my biggest surprise was that there's hardly any equipment! (At least compared to breweries.)

Logan was a great tour guide and answered all the questions we had, which were many. (PS. You can see all the equipment from outside the building too, thanks to these giant windows facing the parking lot.) These are the fermenters. If I'm remembering right, one side has corn and the other has the yeast and water.

This is the machine that actually does the distilling. The liquid goes through these pipes several times, and each time becomes a higher alcohol content. This particular machine is super cool and advanced and automatically gets rid of unwanted liquids (like acetone) by measuring particle weights.

And that's pretty much it. The final liquid goes into a big container and is combined with water to get to the right proof, then gets bottled and labeled by hand. Here Logan was showing us the labeler, and this is also where he taste-tests (he was testing to see at which point the vodka tasted the best, depending on some variables).

And here is the bottler.

I definitely recommend checking out the newest alcohol player in town (and taking the tour). The drinks were great and the bartenders were friendly. The only bad part might be the parking (there is hardly any, so either carpool, take the B-line, or plan for an off time). I'm looking forward to checking out their other liquors when they get released.
Bloomington, IN: Cardinal Spirits Bloomington, IN: Cardinal Spirits Reviewed by Maria on 3:53:00 PM Rating: 5

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