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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.  

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MY PERFECT 3-PACK: KEVIN HINKLE

Devynn Barnes

Our customizable holiday gift packs let you build the perfect gift of half-size bottles (aka "cute size) — Vodka, Tiki Rum, Standard Dry Gin, Bramble, Flora, Songbird Coffee Liqueur: Choose any 3 and we'll pack them in a ready-to-gift box right on the spot.

Need some ideas for mixing and matching?  Today we talk to Cardinal bartender and manager Kevin Hinkle, a traditionalist when it comes to both cocktails and holiday movies, but a man who breaks the rules when it comes to picking three spirits for a Perfect 3-Pack. Read on to see what we mean. 

(Yes, like Kevin, you can double up on spirits in your 3-pack. We call that "pulling a Kevin." Then you can give them individually as stocking stuffers!)

Who — any person, living, dead, fictional or famous — would you gift this 3-pack to?
Buddy the Elf, who is known to love coffee. He also loves syrup, so a bottle of that would accompany the gift-pack. (Perhaps from Burton's Maplewood Farm, where we get the syrup for our Nocino!)

What cocktail would you make using at least one of these spirits?
A classic Negroni, using Standard Dry Gin. Bartender video tutorial here!

What holiday movie would you watch while sipping said cocktail?
It's a Wonderful Life



Cardinal Prize Envelopes

Devynn Barnes

Let's reflect on 2016... shall we? Or maybe not. It was kind of a doozy. But you know what's great about this time of year? A flip of the calendar is just weeks away, and that means a whole new year of opportunity, and of fresh starts. In anticipation, we're handing out Cardinal Prize Envelopes right now at the distillery that hold all sorts of glorious discounts and deals and freebies for you to redeem in 2017.

WHAT'S A CARDINAL PRIZE ENVELOPE?

Glad you asked. Every guest who makes a purchase in December will receive one. A Cardinal Prize Envelope is your shot at greatness; it's fate temporarily sealed away, waiting to be opened. Dramatic? Maybe. But really, your odds of winning something fun from the distillery are high. Tucked away in each envelope is a red slip of paper with your prize that can be redeemed in January and February: everything from $2 off a cocktail to a $250 gift certificate. 

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT?

DON'T OPEN IT! Well, at least not yet. And by all means, don't lose it! Return to the distillery with your *sealed* envelope in January or February 2017 to have it unsealed by our staff to reveal your prize. In January, we'll redeem the full amount of the prize. In February, we'll redeem half the value of the prize.

WHAT CAN I WIN?

Prizes are many and varied. Below is the list of how they are distributed:

(1) Grand prize of a $250 gift card
(5) $25 gift cards
(50) BOGO bottle gift cards- buy one, get one free (except aged whiskey)
(100) 25% off your entire purchase
(200) $5 off any cocktail
(600) $2 off any cocktail

Pictured here: Rosemary's Second Baby cocktail, a gem of our winter menu. Curious about Rosemary's First Baby? Find the recipe in our cocktail book. 

Pictured here: Rosemary's Second Baby cocktail, a gem of our winter menu. Curious about Rosemary's First Baby? Find the recipe in our cocktail book

WHAT ARE THE RULES?

Like any good contest, rules and regulations apply. Basically, visit us in December and receive your envelope (limit one per transaction). Don't open it. Come again in January or February and bring it to a member of our staff to unseal it. In February, we'll redeem half the value of the prize. There are a few more rules, and they're listed right on the envelope.

2016 may have been rough, but 2017 is full of opportunity, and, as it turns out, deals. Come into the distillery today to find fate, sealed in a little white envelope. 

GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM CARDINAL SPIRITS!



Cardinal Spirits Gift Guide 2016

Devynn Barnes

What if a place existed where you could find a holiday gift for both your hard-to-please aunt and crafty brother-in-law? A true one-stop shop full of unique, local and crowd-pleasing items to make your holiday shopping a breeze? Well, we may be biased, but we think Cardinal Spirits is that place. 

We're here to help you be the MVP of the gift-giving season. From yummy spirits to cool drinking vessels to gift cards, Cardinal Spirits can help you find the perfect gift for even the trickiest members of your crew. Like, perhaps:

Your trendy cousin whose tastes tastes are always changing...

The Holiday Gift Box

What never goes out of style? Spirits. And great news: our 3-pack gift box is customizable! Choose from our Vodka, Tiki Rum, Standard Dry Gin, Bramble, Songbird Coffee Liqueur and Songbird Flora, all in 375ml bottles — that's half the size of our regular bottles. Need some inspiration? Check out the My Perfect 3-Pack series on the blog

$40 at the distillery  |  order online for local pick-up


Your aunt who is always trying out new Pinterest recipes...

Indiana Cocktail Recipes Book

We've put together a beautiful collection of 40+ cocktail recipes from Indiana bartenders using Cardinal Spirits. It's organized by season, with easy, medium and challenging recipes. 85 pages of pretty pictures and delicious cocktails: perfect. 

$12.95 at the distillery and online, or $10 with any bottle purchase


Your extra-picky sister who you know will just return whatever you get her anyway...

Gift Cards (With a Holiday Bonus!)

Gift cards: the true hero of the holiday season. Ours are available starting at $10, and they are easier than wrapping a cocktail. Gift cards can be used toward cocktails, bottles, food, tours and merchandise at the distillery.

Holiday bonus: For every $100 purchased in gift cards, you'll receive a bonus gift card worth $20.

Starting at $10 at the distillery and online


Your brother-in-law who swears he needs nothing...

A Cardinal Spirits Flask

It's like we always say: You can never have too many flasks. That's why they make such great gifts. We have 3 types with our logo: a little metal guy with a clip for backpacks, a leather-wrapped one and a cool porthole style. A great gift especially when paired with a bottle of our spirits. 

Starting at $15 at the distillery and online


The resident whiskey-drinker of your family/friend group...

The Perfect Whiskey Glass

These eccentric whiskey glasses were discovered by our friend David Hill of the Malt Guild. After years of research in Scotland with the best Scotch distillers in the world, he found this glass (a Turkish design) to best express the nose and taste of a fine whiskey.

$25 for a set of two at the distillery and online


Your mom, who graciously hosts Christmas dinner every year...

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NOCINO

This liqueur is the gift that keeps on giving. Warm, spicy and nutty, Nocino tastes like the holidays. This liqueur is a traditional Italian liqueur made with green, unripe walnuts. For our version, we harvested walnuts right here in Indiana, then combined them with our vodka and spices, and let that steep for months. The result: A luscious, mellow, earthy elixir. Local, unique and delicious. Do we hear "favorite child?" We thought so. 

$28 for a 375ml bottle at the distillery


So there you have it! A selection of personal, unique gifts to make your holiday shopping a little easier. Come by the distillery or check out the online marketplace to browse our whole selection. And of course,

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM CARDINAL SPIRITS!



Bugs & Lola cocktail recipe

Erica Sagon

A wintery gin cocktail that cleverly, deliciously, unexpectedly sneaks carrots into your diet? Plus maple syrup and molasses bitters? Sign us up.

BUGS & LOLA

By Alex Utter of Cardinal Spirits

Makes 1 cocktail

1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Standard Dry Gin
3⁄4 ounce lemon juice
3⁄4 ounce carrot juice
1⁄2 ounce real maple syrup
2 dashes molasses bitters (recommended: Fee Bros.)
Orange peel

Add all ingredients except orange peel to a shaker tin and shake with ice for 15 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Express the oils from an orange peel by gently squeezing the peel over the cocktail, letting the oil mist over the drink. Discard the peel.



MY PERFECT 3-PACK: EMILY

Devynn Barnes

We're back with more mixing and matching of our customizable 3-packs. These combos have been as unique as our staff, and so have the answers to our questions. Today we talk to server/bartender Emily Darnell about her dream 3-pack combo. 

Server/Bartender Emily Darnell's Perfect 3-Pack: 

Who — any person, living, dead, fictional or famous — would you gift this 3-pack to?
Good friend Ranger Bud Stevens, Mt. Rainier park ranger and Crystal Mountain ski patroller

What cocktail would you make using at least one of these spirits?
Milk Punch, made with Tiki Rum and Nocino. Holiday spice and everything nice.

What holiday movie would you watch while sipping said cocktail?
Elf

 



MY PERFECT 3-PACK: JEFF

Devynn Barnes

Our "My Perfect 3-Pack" series continues as we celebrate the return of our *customizable* holiday packs. This week we talk to one of our co-founders to see what spirits he would choose, who he would give them to, and how he would cocktail with them. Stay tuned for more of our staff's picks and suggestions throughout this holiday season. 

Co-Founder Jeff Wuslich's Perfect 3-pack:

Who — any person, living, dead, fictional or famous — would you gift this 3-pack to?
John le Carré, author (Most famous work: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).

What cocktail would you make using at least one of these spirits?
A classic gin gimlet, made with:

2 ounces Standard Dry Gin
.75 ounce fresh lime juice
.75 ounce simple syrup 

Simply add all of the ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a coupe glass.

(Are you a gimlet fan? If so, we think you'll love this one made with sage and our one-of-a-kind Terra botanical gin. 

What holiday movie would you watch while sipping said cocktail?
Diehard.*

*(Editor's note: We have officially determined that "holiday movie" is a subjective term.)



MY PERFECT 3-PACK: MICHELLE

Devynn Barnes

Our holiday gift packs were a hit last year, so we've brought them back and made them completely customizable. You can mix and match 375ml-bottles of our spirits to create the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Need some suggestions? We got you. This holiday season, we'll be bringing you this series of Cardinal Spirits staff members' "perfect 3-packs."

Today, server Michelle Gottschlich shares her perfect 3-pack: 

 

Who — any person, living, dead, fictional or famous — would you gift this 3-pack to?
My great grandmother, Vanetta

What cocktail would you make using at least one of these spirits?
A milk punch using the Tiki Rum and Songbird Coffee Liqueur. (Use our Milk Punch recipe, but substitute Coffee Liqueur for Nocino). 

What holiday movie would you watch while sipping said cocktail?
Gremlins (IMDB page linked. Christmas movie? Judge for yourself.)

(Editor's note: Michelle's Christmas movie selection caused quite the debate at the distillery over what constitutes a "Christmas" film. Thoughts?)

 



MY PERFECT 3-PACK: ALYVIA

Devynn Barnes

Our holiday gift packs were a hit last year, so we've brought them back and make them completely customizable. You can mix and match 375ml-bottles of our spirits and make the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Need some suggestions? We got you. This holiday season, we'll be bringing you this series of Cardinal Spirits staff members' "perfect 3-packs." Follow along for some unique mix-ups and learn a little more about our spirited staff.

First off... Alyvia CAIN

Meet Alyvia Cain, Cardinal Spirits bartender-extraordinaire. Here's how she would use her perfect 3-pack:

Who — any person, living, dead, fictional or famous — would you gift this 3-pack to?
First Hollywood crush, either John Cusack or Keanu Reeves.

What cocktail would you make using at least one of these spirits?
A Bramble Russian, using 1.5 ounces of Songbird Coffee Liqueur, 1.5 ounces of Bramble, and 1 ounce of half and half. (Modify our classic White Russian recipe.)

What holiday movie would you watch while sipping said cocktail?
Love Actually, or the The Grinch with Jim Carrey.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM CARDINAL SPIRITS! 



Behind the Scenes at Big Red Liquors: 9 Insider Tips

Samantha Weiss-Hills

Big Red Liquors is an institution in Bloomington — and the rest of central Indiana, for that matter. Founded in 1972 by Mark McAlister in a small storefront off North College Avenue, it’s grown to include a enterprise of almost 60 stores, from its Bloomington epicenter to Indianapolis and Terre Haute, and smaller towns like Bedford and French Lick.

Big Red was the first retailer to order our spirits when we opened in February 2015, so you could say we're huge fans. In addition to selling our spirits, they've helped make them — we distilled a custom whiskey and gin with Big Red that is sold exclusively at their stores along with our other spirits. 

Their flagship store in downtown Bloomington, a veritable warehouse of beer, wine, and spirits, sits just south of the original location on one of city's main drags, College Avenue. The store is home to James Connor, one of the main wine managers who holds a C.S.W. and C.S.S. (certifications in both wine and spirits).

We caught up with James recently to get a behind-the-scenes look at Big Red, and he shared 9 tips about the flagship location, as well as the whole brand.

So where did the name Big Red come from, anyway?

James says there’s lots of theories, but the one that has the most legs is pretty simple: Mark has a flash of red hair on his head, and that was that. Big Red stuck.

The most expensive spirit in the store? It’s tres chic.

James immediately knows this when I ask. “Samalens 1900 Armagnac,” he rattles off like it’s business as usual. (It’s not—it’s $3,300 per bottle!) “It’s been here longer than I have,” he says, laughing. “We’ve got all sorts of ridiculous things in this store.” Since the flagship is the biggest (and best, according to him), he feels like they have to have special offerings like the Samalens.

The most overlooked and underrated spirit in the bunch? It’s not what you think.

Surprise: It’s brandy! Everyone’s on the bourbon craze, James explains, but brandy is a really flavorful, affordable alternative.

They’ve got a VIP club, and you’re invited. (There’s Pappy involved.)

Big Red’s VIP program is still a pretty good secret among locals. It’s a reward program the company started close to 4 years ago, where customers earn points on dollars spent on anything in the store. The points get you everything from a free bag of ice to beer glasses and, as they add up, the rewards get more enticing: invites to special events and trips and even your own beverage concierge. But it’s not just points—there are a few weekly emails that go around about releases of small batch or rare beer, wine and spirits. Any given week you’re getting about 3 of these, including opportunities to buy, say, coveted Pappy Van Winkle or very rare sour beers from Goose Island that won't ever hit the sales floor. 

Weekends aren’t always the busiest days.

While you might think that Saturday mornings before a football game are crazy (and they are! They are.), there are other weekdays that garner a lot of activity as well. Thursdays are also extra bustling, according to James—but there are less costumes, then.

(It might not come as a surprise that James estimates that over half of Bloomington’s clientele comes from the city’s renowned university, Indiana University.)

The Bloomington store on East 3rd Street has a secret wine cellar.

Ok, it’s not so secret, it’s there in plain sight, but most people breeze right past the staircase to it—which means you usually have the wine room all to yourself to browse.

There are free public tastings 3 days a week.

You can drop by the Bloomington flagship for tastings 3 times a week. Thursdays are beer nights, and on Fridays and Saturdays there are wine flights to try. (On Saturday, that’s usually going all day.) James emphasized Big Red’s dedication to education among not only consumers, but staff too. It’s really important to them that they have an informed staff who can knowledgeably recommend the right selection for their customers.

Cardinal Spirits pours samples often at Big Red stores — this one is coming up at the downtown Bloomington location, with bottle discounts that day, too.

They really, really support local beer, wine, and spirits.

Not only does Big Red stock Cardinal Spirits (more on that later), it carries a lot of locally made booze. From swaths of the regional beer that Indiana and its surrounding states produce, to local wine from Oliver Winery down the road, to other nearby spirit makers like Starlight, they’re committed to bringing in high-quality, locally-made products — and the biggest selection of them.

They were one of the first to carry Cardinal Spirits! (And they’ve even made 2 exclusive batches with us.)

Cardinal Spirits is the first distillery in Bloomington, so, according to James, it was a natural fit to stock at the store. We opened our doors in February 2015, and James called it a “huge eye opener.” Big Red definitely had their sights on us while we were ramping up to opening, he explained, so they were thrilled when they finally got to taste the products, which met their high quality standards. Customers in the store love that it’s local, craft, and that the products really live up to the hype. It’s also a boon that some of the spirits are made in interesting styles, like the vodka, which is grape-based. It’s a great opportunity to educate customers, he said, about different approaches to spirits.

Big Red’s support of Cardinal has also been reciprocated—we’ve opened our doors to their spirit-loving VIPs to make a custom whiskey. And, Big Red has made a custom American Gin with us. (Both are available at Big Red locations.)

His advice for aspiring craft spirit makers trying to get a foot in the door? James says to not give up, and shared that “we’re looking for quality above all, not a fancy package.”

Don't miss our take-over of the Big Red store in downtown Bloomington on Saturday, Dec. 10. Raffles, spirit samples, cocktail demonstrations on the hour, giveaways, high fives, and more! And... a killer discount on bottles for one day only...



Meet: Black Bear Bierschnaps

Devynn Barnes

Black Bear Bierschnaps — our collaboration with Upland Brewing — is here,
in all its smooth, malty, chocolatey glory.

If you've never heard of bierschnaps, you're not alone. This stuff is deliciously rare in the US. If you're curious about it, you've come to the right place. Right this way to the dark side...

First things first: Black Bear Bierschnaps (750ml, $28) is available starting today, Friday, Oct. 28, at Cardinal Spirits — and, in mid-November, it will available to buy alongside Teddy Bear Kisses stout at Big Red Liquor stores.

Here's everything else you need to know about Black Bear Bierschnaps:

WHAT IS IT?

Black Bear Bierschnaps is a distilled stout — a collaboration with Upland Brewing Co. in Bloomington. It's is made with Upland’s Teddy Bear Kisses stout, which we brewed together with Upland brewers, then fermented and distilled on site at Cardinal Spirits.

WHAT IS BIERSCHNAPS, ANYWAY?

Bierschnaps is a German spirit that is made from beer which is brewed and fermented, then distilled to a stronger strength and more intense flavor. We used Teddy Bear Kisses, Upland’s award-winning Russian imperial stout aged on cacao nibs. It is a big, bold beer that is velvety, complex and roasty, and that profile is gloriously intensified in Black Bear Bierschnaps.  

HOW DID WE MAKE IT, EXACTLY?

Upland and Cardinal brewed a special batch of Teddy Bear Kisses seasonal stout, which was then fermented and distilled on-site at Cardinal Spirits.

Before fermentation, a bit of the wort was set aside and boiled down to a rich, dark-roasted malt syrup. Finally, the wort syrup, distilled stout, and original stout were blended together to bring you... drumroll please... BIERSCHNAPS.

The base of Black Bear Bierschnaps is Teddy Bear Kisses, Upland’s award-winning Russian imperial stout aged on cacao nibs. It is a big, bold beer that is velvety, complex and roasty, and that profile is gloriously intensified in Black Bear Bierschnaps.  

HOW TO DRINK IT?

Bierschnaps is traditionally enjoyed on its own and ice cold, either as a shot or sipped as a digestif. Black Bear Bierschnaps is a “bartenders’ handshake” type of spirit like Fernet or Malört — a shot that bartenders pour for each other. It’s also great alongside a beer, in a spiked root beer float or mixed into cocktails.

At the distillery, we'll serve it as a shot and you get to keep the glass. We'll also have two specialty cocktails: Paddington Flip, with Tiki Rum, Bierschnaps, raspberry and egg white; and Blood, Sweat & Biers, with Bierschnaps, grapefruit, lemon, cassis and orgeat.

Bierschnaps is delicious as it is intriguing, but don't just take our word for it. Come in and see for yourself.