The Iconic Spirits Blog

Classic American Bars: The Baker House, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

November 28, 2012

Tags: baker house, baker house 1885

As resorts go, Lake Geneva is unique. It was originally settled after the Chicago fire in the 19th century, and became a summer retreat for captains of industry and commerce (it’s sometimes referred to as “the Hamptons of the Midwest”). The wealthy individuals who summered at Lake Geneva built “cottages” of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet; the most notable of these is the Wrigley mansion, actually a collection of six separate buildings directly on the lakefront.

There are a number of full-blown resort hotels in town, the most interesting of which is the Grand Geneva, which served as the location for the first Playboy Club. As you might expect, there are a number of quaint bed and breakfast inns as well, and the most distinctive of the Lake Geneva B & Bs is the Baker House. (more…)

The Jim Beam Small Batch Collection

November 21, 2012

Tags: jim beam, small batch, knob creek, basil hayden's, baker's, booker's

Once upon a time, everyone in Kentucky made the same type of Bourbon. Distillers were aware that superior barrels existed in each warehouse, but it never occurred to them to isolate those barrels---primarily because the demand for a more exclusive Bourbon didn’t seem to exist.

When the demand did arrive, it came from an unlikely source: Japan. (more…)

Classic American Bars: The Bitter Bar, Boulder

November 14, 2012

Tags: the bitter bar

The Bitter Bar opened in 2009 under the improbable name of The Happy Noodle. At the time, it was an Asian noodle joint that also served craft cocktails; the assumption was that both trends were hot, so why not? The two motifs didn’t blend together as seamlessly as originally thought, and the cocktails eventually pushed the soba and somen out the back door.

The bar is housed in one of Boulder’s oldest buildings, a former general store over 100 years old. The space is relaxed and comfortable, cooled by ceiling fans, with a combination of tables, booths, and casual spaces containing sofas and easy chairs. The soul of the room is a long bar accommodating 13 seats, with a black surface made from pressed recycled paper---“very Boulder,” in the words of bar manager Burton Daniel. The place is operated by James Lee, a former finalist on Iron Chef Bartenders and one of Playboy’s Top Ten bartenders in the country, with Daniel as his right-hand man. (more…)

Colorado Craft Distillers, Part II

November 7, 2012

Tags: 303 Vodka, Roundhouse Spirits, Peach Street Distillers, Peak Spirits

Here’s the conclusion of my notes and musings on Colorado’s craft distillers, based on a recent visit to the state. This report focuses on a few mavericks, along with some emerging superstars:

303 Vodka: The story is too irresistible to ignore: In 1907, Pete Viezbicke Sr. emigrated to the U.S., carrying all his possessions in a steamer trunk. Grandpa Pete, as he was known to his descendants, settled in Michigan and raised a family. After his death in the 1970s, the steamer trunk passed from his daughter to his grandson, Steve “Viz” Viezbecke, an audio engineer and student of physics living in Colorado. (more…)