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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. 

BEFORE AND AFTER: CARDINAL SPIRITS BUILDING

Erica Sagon

On our anniversary, we wanted to take a minute to go back to the very beginning. 

This is our home: 922 S. Morton St., a mile south of downtown Bloomington. It's just out of the way enough that when you find it, tucked in to our otherwise industrial and residential neighborhood, it feels a bit like you're discovering something. It's exciting. It's a nice home, don't you think?

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Do you remember what our building looked like before it was home to Cardinal Spirits?

It looked like this:

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And on the inside? 

Before:

 

And after: 

 

Sometimes we feel like an HGTV crew should have been following us around in 2014 as we tore this building apart and put it back together. Is there a version of Fixer Upper for commercial buildings? JOANNA GAINES, ARE YOU READING THIS?

Anyway.

People always want to know what our building used to be. It was a sheet-metal shop, from 1960 through the early 2000s. Then, until a few years ago, it was church offices and storage facility for faith-based mission. Hence the mattresses and such.

We had a lot of work to do to turn the building into a distillery and cocktail bar. First, we punched some holes in the walls.

Then, we ripped down some walls.

Then, we ripped up the floor because at this point we were in the habit of ripping things up, and also we had to make way for plumbing. 

You definitely want a sociology major in charge of your plumbing. That's Cardinal co-founder, Jeff. 

Next: Windows. Doors. Limestone bar. These are a few of our favorite things. 

And then we thought, hey, here's an idea: why not paint the whole thing black?

Let's make a sidewalk. And, put Cardinal co-founder Adam in charge of grouting the bathrooms/making a horror movie.

 

One day, ginormous pieces of distilling equipment started arriving, and that continued pretty much every day until we opened. This is the boiler, made in Indiana:

 

The still arrived, and we started making spirits. 

Once you make spirits, you have to put them in bottles. This was our first run:

Meanwhile, in the cocktail bar, stools, tables and shelves found their places. 

 

Yes, eagle-eyed reader, that's a diaper bag on the left. Co-founders Adam and Jeff both had newborn boys at the time. 

Cardinal server Alyvia (who is now our bar manager!) chalked away.

The staff learned their way around the bar:

And then we thought everything looked pri-tay, pri-tay, pritay good, we said, OK, let's do this. Doors opened, and goods and services were exchanged for U.S. dollars. THREE years ago this weekend.

We said "we" a lot here. By "we," we mostly mean these people, the contractors that made Cardinal Spirits possible: Howard's Home ImprovementHFI  / Bloomington HVAC / Riverway Plumbing / Clutch Fabrication / Matte Black Architecture / Central Arizona Supply / B-Tech

It's fun to look back on how far we've come in three short years. When we opened in February 2015, we distilled exactly one spirit: Vodka. And our bar served exactly one spirit in cocktails: Vodka. Sure, gin and rum and liqueurs were close behind, but we were blown away by how supportive and jazzed you all were from the start!

 

We've made nearly two dozen spirits since then, some of which have won awards and medals, appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, poured into cocktails at the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Daniel in NYC. We're now distributing in 6 states: Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and New York, and we'll be adding new markets shortly.

We've opened our production area to tours every weekend, and cocktail classes, too. (And once a year, on our anniversary, our distiller and his team graciously allow the production area to become a dance floor.)

 

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Our tasting room grew into a full bar, and earlier this year, we added a kitchen so that we could serve dinner 7 days a week, and brunch on the weekends.

 

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We hope to see you at our THIRD anniversary party this weekend!