Blackhat Distillery, 5745 Industrial Place, 999-5148, blackhatdistillery.com
And the award for coolest tasting paddle ever goes to… Blackhat Distillery! (See our Aug. 19 Side Dish for their full backstory.) Seriously, dig the wood engraving of Colorado Springs’ skyline plus Blackhat’s respective spirit labels as you sip through six 1/4-ounce sample pours for $16: Noblemens Brandy, Duelers Agave, Rebels and Royals Rum, vanilla- and coconut-infused rums, and currently a seasonal pumpkin spice brandy.
Director/mixologist Montana Horsfall guides us through the particulars of each, from the blackstrap molasses and open-air fermentation that inform the rum, to ninth-generation family farmers in Mexico who supply the blue agave nectar for the house “agave spirit” (i.e., tequila, but you can’t call it that because of trademark geo-specificity), to the five types of Washington apples that compose the brandy. Each sip has its highlights and nuances, including zero burn in the agave spirit and a welcome subtlety to the vanilla, coconut and baking spice elements elsewhere that don’t cloy. To try a couple in cocktails we go for a seasonal Santa Rosa that acts like a piña colada of sorts, subbing out the pineapple with raspberries in coconut rum and milk, plus lime juice.
But what’ll put Blackhat on the map is their flagship, $10 Malicious Old Fashioned, which cuts the Noblemens with vanilla bean maple syrup and house bitters, presenting a wonderfully aromatic demerara-sugar-brûléed apple slice as stylish, oversized garnish in an oak-smoked glass. (If I could find a candle that smells like this…)