Craft distilleries know that a good spirit takes time and attention. With the fast-growing popularity of the craft spirits and beer industries, cocktail innovations happen fast. One such innovation popping up at taprooms around the country is the draft cocktail. Cocktails on tap allow bartenders to serve quality drinks with ease and speed. Twisted Alchemy cold-pressed juices make draft cocktail programs even easier, which is why Ironton Distillery opted for cold-pressed juice in their tap systems.
Ironton Distillery of Denver, Colorado decided not only to craft elevated spirits but to serve spirits in elevated cocktails in an elevated taproom experience. Their distillery is equipped with a large indoor dining area, lounge space, art studio, and an enormous outdoor patio to match. With so much space and events like screenings of old school Disney movies, yoga classes, and art exhibitions, they receive a lot of thirsty patrons. When searching for a way to serve cocktails on tap, Twisted Alchemy was the best fruit juice option for batching cocktails of the highest quality.
The Best Juice for Batching Cocktails
Twisted Alchemy cold-pressed juices don’t cover up the flavor of their spirits with unnecessary sugars or water. Twisted Alchemy juice is 100% cold-pressed and 100% fruit juice, with zero sugars added. Distilleries around the country are choosing to save time, money, and labor on their taproom program by serving cocktails with Twisted Alchemy cold-pressed juice instead of fresh squeezed.
Twisted Alchemy sat down with co-founder Robbie Adams to hear about the work it takes to build a craft distillery, a high-volume taproom, and the quality cold-pressed juice that makes it all possible. Watch the video of our interview or read the full transcription below.
Twisted Alchemy (TA): How did you get into bartending?
Robbie Adams (RA): I got into bartending a long time ago. I worked at Chili’s Bar and Grill a long time ago, then Rock Bottom Restaurants then got more into the beer side of things, and now I’m back into distilling.
TA: How long have you been in distilling?
RA: We’ve been at this for 2.5 years. I’m one of the co-founders, me and Kallyn.
TA: How did you decide you wanted to get into Distilling?
RA: So I’ve been in the beer industry for about 12 years and I decided the next thing to do would be to distill spirits.
TA: What’s your favorite part about being a bartender?
RA: as far as bartending goes, I like being able to converse with the customer. It’s that first level of service. Getting to introduce people to your spirits, what you do, as far as the quality and ingredients. You can actually have a conversation with them. And also being able to craft it and make sure that you’re making consistent quality products.
TA: What’s your favorite part about working specifically in the distilling side of the beverage industry?
RA: Distilling is great because we’re able to not only craft a cocktail with quality ingredients but we also get to craft the spirit itself. So we build it from the ground up using quality ingredients. We don’t buy product and package it, we actually make it from fermentation up. So being able to not only make a spirit but also use ingredients to make a quality craft cocktail, we can engineer it backward or forwards.
TA: So it’s important for you to have quality ingredients?
RA: Yes, it’s very important to have quality ingredients because it matches what we use in the production side of things.
TA: How did you procure juice before using Twisted Alchemy?
RA: Before Twisted Alchemy we were just fresh squeezing daily. It was very time-consuming. We put a lot of effort into it, making sure every day was fresh squeezed. By eliminating that process and finding Twisted Alchemy, which we’ve found to be the best quality that we could find as far as fresh-squeezed taste, being able to have the same amount of bitterness of citrus flavors was really important.
TA: Can you explain a little bit more about what it was like squeezing your juice?
RA: Every day we would have to come in about an hour early, fresh-cut everything, and go through with the hand Sunkist juicer. The automatic one that’s just very time-consuming. And not only is it bad for your hands and carpal tunnel, but it’s just not very enjoyable. We’d have a trash bag full of fruit peels every day.
TA: How has the workflow changed at your bar since using Twisted Alchemy?
RA: Workflow is great because we’re able to just open up the bar and jump right in instead of spending the extra hour juicing. Which is great because it was very time consuming and not the best way to start your day as a bartender. So that way we’re able to jump right in and we know it’s quality ingredients and it comes out as basically fresh-squeezed.
TA: And so you get to spend more time working on other things?
RA: It’s great because it’s just ready to go so any time we want to use it when we’re developing new menu items. We added grapefruit and orange on this menu so it was really great to just call you up and order it. We were able to get it in a couple of days and then we could play around with it and decide if we were going to continue using it or not.
TA: What are some of your most popular cocktails here?
RA: Our most popular are the seasonal collins, we do muddled watermelon and TA lemon juice in that. Basically, when you’re creating a craft cocktail it’s important to have a lot of elements, and one of them is being citrus. Almost every cocktail you make is going to have citrus in it, whether it be lemon, lime, grapefruit. Another really popular one is the Old Man and the Sea. that one we use lime juice and grapefruit as well, turbinado sugar, amaro, and it’s a rum-based cocktail.
TA: What’s your least favorite juice to squeeze?
RA: I’d say the limes, because as you probably know we’re in a lime shortage right now so they’re all pretty small and just coming out like Key lime more or less. So bigger counts and those can be just really hard to work with because you have to do twice as many just to get the same amount of juice as you would normally get and that’s just not very fun working with those little citruses.
TA: Do you batch your cocktails? Can you tell me a bit about that?
RA: Yeah we batch quite a number of cocktails. We have large vessels we batch in. We’re doing about 300 gallons at a time which is quite a bit. We have special tanks that are very tall and upright and they’re able to recirculate liquid so everything stays in solution which is important when you’re using citruses because those can typically separate. We have four cocktails right now on tap. It’s very efficient, especially for us since we have a very large space. When we do weekend events when we’re drawing in 300-400 people, it’s much easier if we can just whittle down the menu and skip the muddling and the stirring and the shaking and do more of the draft cocktail stuff. We will be adding four more in probably the next month.
TA: Do the managed pH and Brix levels on each of our bottles help you in crafting cocktails?
RA: It’s nice to know that the juice is always consistent based on those numbers. Typically when we’re making frozen drinks we need to look at Brix levels, so that’s helpful to see.
TA: Our mission at Twisted Alchemy is to elevate spirits. Do you see that mission playing out in your bar?
RA: Twisted alchemy helps us elevate our program becuase it allows us to use a consistent quality product. And then like we said we can focus more on cocktails and preparing our bar for service and other aspects rather than having to juice and get our hands all tired before even starting our shift. It’s great to be able to order what we need and if we have an idea of a new juice we want to use we can just order it, start messing around with it and decide if it works or if it doesn’t instead of having to go out, buy a bunch of fruit, juice it down…by the time you get done with all of that you’re kind of over the whole process. It definitely helps out with R&D.
TA: Can you talk to me about the hidden costs of fresh-squeezing juice?
RA: It’s really hard to dial in your citrus (costs) in terms of juicing yourself. You’re buying a case, there’s no real number on how much juice you’re going to get from that case. As far as figuring out your costs for your bar, you kind of just have to assume a number based on industry standards. So moving to Twisted Alchemy, we’ve found that it does increase a bit in price, about $0.12 per cocktail, but that’s just us buying the juice and it doesn’t include the labor associated with juicing. And that labor is hard to put a number on that value. If we know exactly how much we’re being charged per ounce, then we know exactly how much to dial into our point-of-sale system and get a true cost on things.
It’s a tragedy to see carefully crafted spirits mixed with a sugary, mass-produced fruit juice. With Twisted Alchemy, you can be confident our curated juice will complement the flavor of your distilled spirit perfectly and also reduce labor costs at your bar or taproom. Craft distillers are better spending their time improving their spirits and cocktail menu than squeezing juice.
Are you ready to skip the juicing and focus your energy on creating delicious cocktails? See and shop our entire line of curated cold-pressed juices, request a sample, apply for industry pricing, or simply drop us a line, we would love to hear from you!