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922 South Morton Street
Bloomington, IN, 47403
United States

812-202-6789

Cardinal Spirits is a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana that specializes in producing extraordinary spirits from local ingredients.  

The Drop

The Drop is your source for all things craft. 

Honey Schnapps: How we made it

Erica Sagon

Honey Schnapps, our newest spirit, is here!

It's a celebration of honeybees — distilled and sweetened entirely with raw honey from our family's hives in northern Indiana. It's rare to see this liquid gold being distilled at all, but then we took things one step further to make it unlike any other spirit out there ... read on to find out the crazy little secret that makes this spirit so special.

But, first things first: Honey Schnapps available now at the distillery by the bottle (full-size and cute-size) and in cocktails. It's a seasonal spirit with a soft, clean taste and a lovely, lingering honey essence. It's smooth and intriguing enough to sip on its own, but you'll love using it in cocktails at home, too — it's definitely an ingredient that makes you go, "wow, wow, wow!" when you sip.

We'd like to thank the honeybees out there that worked so hard to make Honey Schnapps happen. Here's how we turned 1,500 pounds of raw Indiana honey into a delicious spirit...

Meet brothers and beekeepers Walt and Dan. They're family-in-law of our cofounder Adam Quirk, and together, they have an apiary — a collection of hives — in the Fort Wayne area. They even helped us put a hive of our own on the distillery's roof!

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We use Dan and Walt's honey in our cocktails, but after a huge harvest left us with waaaaay more than we'd ever need for drinks, we wondered: Could we use it to make a spirit?

The answer is yes, and Honey Schnapps is it.

We wanted this spirit to be in total celebration of honeybees, so we kept pushing for ideas. How else could we get bees involved? Remember that little secret we talked about before? 

Say hi to Matt Bochman. Is he our secret ingredient? No. Well, maybe, but we wouldn't embarrass him here by calling him our "secret ingredient." Maybe our secret agent? Point is: He found our secret ingredient for us — yeast from the bodies of the honeybees on our roof. 

Matt is a biochemist for Indiana University, and on the side, he's a yeast whisperer. What a gig! Matt discovers, gathers and grows proprietary yeast strains for craft brewers and distillers. His clients, like us, enlist him to find yeast that's more interesting, flavorful or unusual than what's commercially available.

He's MacGyver-y about it - when he was in Jamaica awhile back, he squeezed citrus juice on a napkin and let it sit in the sun, then threw it in his suitcase and brought it home to add to his yeast library (he wouldn't have been able to take a whole orange through customs). Or he'll walk around IU's campus and snag local yeast from a tree especially for a brewery that wants to make a hyper-local beer.

Matt helped with the yeast for our Tiki Rum and Landlocked Spiced Rum, and now, our Honey Schnapps.

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Yeast is everywhere, even on honeybees. As it turns out, their fuzzy little bodies are magnets for yeast. Matt gathered yeast he found on the bodies of bees from our rooftop hive, then experimented with different fermentations for us to try...

So we've got Dan and Walt's honey, and Matt's bee-body yeast. Here's how our distiller Justin Hughey (above) put it all together. He made mead (fermented honey) with the 1,500 pounds of raw Indiana honey from the family apiary, and the bee-body yeast. He distilled the mead, and finally, added more raw honey for sweetness.

We finished as we do with all of our spirits: Labeling, numbering, bottling, corking by hand.

Ta da: Honey Schnapps! Snag a bottle of our seasonal spirit for refreshing cocktails all summer long.



Fresh 2 Death Cocktail Recipe

Cassie Morris

This fresh and fruity cocktail by our bartender Chris Resnick is refreshing and perfect to sip on in this spring weather. This has been a fan favorite from our spring menu, so now we've decided to share the recipe! Go ahead, give it a try.

FRESH 2 DEATH

By Chris Resnick of Cardinal Spirits

2 ounces Cardinal Spirits Vodka
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce raspberry-mint syrup
Tonic water

To make the raspberry mint syrup, bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil. Then add 1 small package of raspberries and a handful of mint. Muddle until the sugar is dissolved, then let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass and top with tonic water.



New Penzance Punch

Cassie Morris

This Penzance Punch will be a punch to your taste buds, but in the best way possible. Try making this delicious cocktail at home with this recipe, created by our bartender Chris Resnick.

NEW PENZANCE PUNCH

By Chris Resnick of Cardinal Spirits

1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Terra Gin
1.25 ounces jasmine tea
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce mint-cilantro-honey syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash of orange bitters
Club soda

To make the cilantro honey lime syrup, combine 1 cup of honey and 1 cup of water with a small handful each of mint and cilantro, then fine strain it. 

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass and top with an ounce of soda.



Mango Papaya Daiquiri Cocktail Recipe

Cassie Morris

Springtime means tiki time (Tiki Rum, that is)! Channel some tropical vibes into this refreshing drink that's perfect for sipping under the hot sun.

MANGO PAPAYA DAIQUIRI

By Chris Resnick of Cardinal Spirits

2 ounces Tiki Rum infused with mango-papaya tea
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup

To make the mango papaya tea infused tiki rum, put 1 tablespoon of loose tea into 375 ml of rum and let it sit for 2 hours. 

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish it with a lime.



Handsome Devil Cocktail Recipe

Cassie Morris

With just two ingredients, this cocktail by our bartender Chris Resnick couldn't be easier to make. Go on, give it a try!

HANDSOME DEVIL

By Chris Resnick of Cardinal Spirits

1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Songbird Coffee Liqueur
3⁄4 ounce Cardinal Spirits Lake House Spiced Rum

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon twist.



Limited-edition Class of 2017 vodka

Cassie Morris

Do you know someone who is about to graduate from IU? Looking for the perfect graduation gift? We can help you with that. Hint: It's not "Oh, The Places You'll Go!"

Class of 2017 Vodka — a special bottling of our signature Vodka — will be released this Friday at the distillery. Bottles are $25, available at the distillery and at Big Red Liquors in downtown Bloomington. Send them out into the real world with a commemorative bottle of a Bloomington-made product.

Cardinal Spirits Vodka is fermented and distilled on site entirely from white grapes. It earned 93 points from Wine Enthusiast, ranking it higher than Grey Goose, Tito's, Ketel One, Ciroc and about 900 other vodkas. It was also named one of the Top 100 Spirits of 2016 by Wine Enthusiast, and it has earned a Triple Gold Medal from the MicroLiquor Spirit Awards. Needless to say, we're pretty proud.

Our Vodka is gluten-free, and it's not your average tasteless, odorless vodka. It has character by design. A very light entry, a full rich body, and a bright floral finish. It's incredibly smooth — great for drinking straight — but it's also terrific in cocktails, especially those with fruit and citrus.

Are you the one who's about to graduate? Congrats! You've worked hard to get here. Treat yourself to a bottle and take a piece of Bloomington with you on your next adventure.

Now, let us show you some of our favorite ways to drink it. Below are four awesomely refreshing cocktails to make using your new bottle of Cardinal Spirits vodka. Click on the pictures for the recipes!



What's it like to win (and drink) a year's supply of La Croix?

Erica Sagon

Meet Claire McInerny, a Bloomington woman who won a year's supply of LaCroix sparkling water a couple of months ago. Claire is an education reporter for WFIU Public Radio and what you'd call a LaCroix superfan. 

We know what you're thinking: Aren't we all LaCroix superfans? You love LaCroix. We love LaCroix. It's the calorie-free, sugar-free flavored sparkling water from the '80s that has roared back to life in the past few years, all the while rocking its pastel-brushstroke branding straight from the '80s. Everybody loves LaCroix.

But not like Claire does. She has made her LaCroix crush known so many times on social media that when she announced on Facebook that she won a year's supply, her commenters responded as if they had witnessed someone's dream coming true. A selection of comments: "OMG. You deserve it. #numberonefangirl" and "This is the most perfect thing ever to happen." and "There is magic in the world!!"

Imagine winning a year's supply of something you love so much, it's part of your identity. Yes, magic — mixed with a little social media strong-arming. 

Like you, we had so many questions for Claire. How much is a year's supply? Is it all at her house now? Because it's free-flowing, will her love wane? Does she feel the blowback of fame?

We invited her to the distillery so we could ask those burning questions, one-on-one. But there was something in it for her, too. Turns out, Claire hates only one flavor of LaCroix: coconut. She wondered: Could we help her change her mind by using it in a cocktail?

Here's our conversation with Claire about winning a year of La Croix and her attempt to make the coconut flavor palatable with the help of one of our bartenders...

Claire with her first of four shipments of La Croix. This one arrived at her office, much to the delight and confusion of her co-workers.

Claire with her first of four shipments of La Croix. This one arrived at her office, much to the delight and confusion of her co-workers.

 

Cardinal Spirits: First things first — how much is a year’s supply of LaCroix? Will it be enough to sustain you?

Claire: They’re going to send me 100 cases throughout the year. My first shipment was a lot of 12-packs and a few of the skinny cans that have eight cans to a pack. It’s more than I drink now. I think people think I wake up and crush LaCroix all day. I have 1 to 2 cans a day, so a case is fine for a week.

CS: How did you win?

Claire: It was a Twitter contest — the 12 days of LaCroix or something like that — leading up to Christmas. So, I just retweeted it a bunch of times, saying if I won a year, I’d do this and that and dadadada… And then LaCroix tweeted back, on Christmas Eve, and said I was a grand prize winner. I was like, this can’t be real. And my dad was like, I’m sure you’re on some short list of super annoying people that hit them up all the time, and they were like, just give it to her.

It’s true, it can’t be an accident.

The Twitter exchange that made Claire a winner.

The Twitter exchange that made Claire a winner.

CS: So, really, you don’t think you were a random winner?

Claire: No, I don’t think so at all. That would be crazy. I’m the ideal candidate. I’m a meme of myself at this point.

 

Just for funsies.

Just for funsies.

CS: This was a personal win, but really, you've been trying to get LaCroix to sponsor the Middle Coast Film Festival in Bloomington, which you help organize. You've been hounding LaCroix on social media for how long?

Claire: For like a year, taking photos and Snapchats and tagging them. I love it, first of all, and I buy it all the time. I have a friend Jessica (another Middle Coast organizer), and you come to either of our houses, and we have a shelf full in our fridge — it’s like, pick your flavor. It just became a funny thing between us to take pictures with LaCroix. We wanted LaCroix to be a sponsor (of the Middle Coast Film Festival), to have cans for filmmakers and at the different venues.

CS: Do you have a favorite flavor?

Claire: This is hard. This is really hard. Because the ones I drink with a meal are different than the ones I put vodka in. The one I buy the most just to have around is peach-pear, and pamplemousse (French for grapefruit).

CS: And for cocktails?

Claire: I like the cherry-lime skinny cans. It seems like there’s more flavor in it, so it’s good with vodka.

And then passion fruit is also really good. I pretty much (mix) with vodka, unless I do gin, and then I like the lime flavor.

CS: And there’s just one flavor you dislike: coconut. What’s the deal?

Claire: It tastes like sunscreen. I like coconut milk, coconut flakes. But I don’t like coconut-flavored things. This flavor is overpowering to me.


CS: When did your obsession with LaCroix start?

Claire: This is so lame - I know the origin story. It was when I first moved to Bloomington. I had a friend, this was three or four years ago, and I was at her house and she asked if I wanted water. I said yes, because I had just rode my bike. And she said, “Do you want just like a glass, or do you want sparkling?” And I was like, “Sparkling? Who are you?” She gave me a pamplemousse, and I thought, that’s super yummy. And now it’s part of my grocery list.

CS: So after you won the contest, did a bunch of LaCroix show up at your house one day?

Claire: I asked if they could not deliver all the LaCroix at once, because I live in a 1-bedroom apartment. That was fine, but I needed to sign for the delivery, so I told them they’d have to deliver it to me at work because I’m not home when FedEx comes. I’m a reporter, and I was out reporting the day it came. So I get all these videos on my phone of my coworkers unloading a pallet on the loading dock. They just stacked the cases up around my desk like a wall. It’s been a four-day process of trying to get it all on a dolly and to my car to take home. I don’t like the idea of clutter, but I’ll deal with it for the LaCroix. I left a few boxes under my desk at work and I gave a few away. But, it’s a lot.

CS: Any other perks or fame that has come with your winnings?

Claire: When I found out a won, I put a photo on Facebook and was like, 2016 is rough, but look what happened at the end. Follow your dreams. I was at a party a few weekends ago, and some random man walks up to me and says, “Are you Claire?” And I said, “Yes, have we met?” He says, “No, but we have a mutual friend and I saw your Facebook post. You’re the LaCroix chick?” I was like, I guess, yeah. It’s a small town.

CS: With a nearly endless, free supply, do you think you’ll get sick of it?

Claire: I don’t think so. They gave me such a good variety, especially the skinny cans that I don’t normally buy.

After the interview, Claire went behind the bar with our bartender Alex Utter to see if they could come up with a cocktail using Claire's least favorite LaCroix flavor: Coconut. Alex had a couple of cocktail ideas to get them started, then they collaborated on a third drink:

Claire, left, and Alex, right

Claire, left, and Alex, right

The first cocktail was made with Cardinal Spirits Tiki Rum, mango puree, lime juice, cinnamon syrup, mint and coconut LaCroix, which Alex dubbed Tropical Contact High. “I can’t even taste the LaCroix!” Claire says after the first sip.

 

 

They made a second cocktail with our Lake House Spiced Rum, carrot juice, lemon, ginger syrup and coconut LaCroix. In this one, Claire thought she could taste the coconut LaCroix a bit more. Whomp whomp.

 

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Finally, Alex and Claire came up with a third cocktail together, with our Vodka, passion fruit puree, grapefruit, lemon, cayenne honey syrup and coconut LaCroix. Claire sips and says: “Oooh, I love that! And I can even taste the coconut, but it’s good! We should write this down!”

And so, we did:

Cleverly named Copper Tone by a Facebook commenter, this cocktail is bright and fruity with a kick from cayenne ... and definitely no sunscreen aftertaste. 

COPPER TONE

Makes 1 cocktail

By Alex Utter and Claire McInerny

1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Vodka
3/4 ounces passion fruit puree
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce cayenne-honey syrup (recipe below)
Coconut LaCroix Sparkling Water, to taste
Lemon peel, for garnish

Add all ingredients except for LaCroix to a shaker, then add ice. Shake well, then strain into a large rocks glass filled with ice. Top with Coconut LaCroix, then garnish with a lemon peel.

(To make the cayenne-honey syrup, combine 1 cup honey, 1 cup water and a teaspoon of cayenne (more or less, depending on the amount of spice you like) in a saucepan. Heat and stir until honey has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using. Store in refrigerator.)
 



Copper Tone cocktail recipe

Erica Sagon

CoconutLaCroix (11 of 12).jpg

This vodka cocktail has the best backstory. It starts with Claire McInerny, a Bloomington woman who won a year's supply of something she's completely obsessed with — LaCroix Sparkling Water. This was a dream come true for Claire, who will receive 100 cases in a variety of flavors over the year. There's just one flavor she hates: Coconut. It tastes like sunscreen, she says, and inevitably LaCroix will send her some of it. Could we help her love Coconut LaCroix by adding our spirits, Claire wondered?

We invited Claire to our bar to mix Coconut LaCroix cocktails with our bartender Alex Utter, and this drink — cleverly named Copper Tone by a Facebook commenter — is something they came up with together: Bright and fruity with a kick from cayenne ... and definitely no sunscreen. 

COPPER TONE

Makes 1 cocktail

By Alex Utter and Claire McInerny

1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Vodka
3/4 ounces passion fruit puree
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce cayenne-honey syrup (recipe below)
Coconut LaCroix Sparkling Water, to taste
Lemon peel, for garnish

Add all ingredients except for LaCroix to a shaker, then add ice. Shake well, then strain into a large rocks glass filled with ice. Top with Coconut LaCroix, then garnish with a lemon peel.

(To make the cayenne-honey syrup, combine 1 cup honey, 1 cup water and a teaspoon of cayenne (more or less, depending on the amount of spice you like) in a saucepan. Heat and stir until honey has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using. Store in refrigerator.)



WE'RE HIRING!

Cassie Morris

Interested in working for Cardinal Spirits? Well, you're in luck because we're hiring! We are currently looking for hosts, servers and tour guides.

As Bloomington's 1st and oldest craft distillery, we are always focused on elevating customer service and providing exceptional cocktails. We also love to have a good time.

So, are you ready to join the flock? Apply here!



Songbird Coffee Liqueur Caramels

Samantha Weiss-Hills

These soft, chewy caramels are spiked with our Songbird Coffee Liqueur — a perfect homemade treat to make and give to someone special. They taste like a fancy latte! Trust us: You don't have to be a pro candy maker to pull off this easy recipe (though you will need a candy thermometer or an instant-read thermometer for best results).

 

SONGBIRD COFFEE LIQUEUR CARAMELS

By Samantha Weiss-Hills

Makes about 10 dozen caramels, or less depending on how generously you cut them

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Cardinal Spirits Songbird Coffee Liqueur
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt

 

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, letting it extend over the sides.

  2. Pour the cream into a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, and bring to a boil. (Alternatively, if you have an accurate digital thermometer, you can have that on hand for later.)

  3. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula until the mixture comes to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 257 degrees, 15 to 30 minutes.

  4. Remove the pan from the heat and, with oven mitts on, stir in the butter, Songbird Coffee Liqueur, espresso powder (if using), vanilla extract and salt. Pour into the prepared pan.

  5. Place the pan in refrigerator until completely cool. Once cooled, invert the caramel onto a cutting board, peel off the foil or parchment, and invert again.

  6. Cut the caramel into eight 1-inch-wide strips; then cut each strip into 1/2-inch pieces. Serve or store in pieces of parchment for later.