Green Door Distilling Company
- 429 E. North Street
- Kalamazoo, MI 49007
- (269) 929-7341
J and I have really taken advantage of grandparents coming to visit lately. Last month, when her parents were in town, we went out to dinner at The Union. Our plan that night was to go to Green Door Distilling afterwards, but they were closed that night for a private party.
This weekend, my mom and aunt came for a visit. We grilled chicken and steaks on the grill then we asked if we could sneak out for an hour or so. They were fine with a little one-on-one time and didn’t have any qualms about putting the kids to bed, so J and I finished our date night from a month ago.
When I grill, I usually stand outside and drink while the food is cooking. I had already had a couple of beers while I was grilling. I wasn’t drunk by any means, but if we were going out to drink some more, I didn’t think it was a good idea for me to drive. I asked J if she wanted to drive and she didn’t really want to either, so we called an Uber.
Green Door Distilling Company is in Kalamazoo’s Northside Neighborhood on North Street at the intersection with Wahlbridge. The building looks like it was kinda mashed together at sometime in the past. There are three distinct buildings that are all connected together. In a previous life, this building was Artwear Apparel. Just looking back at previous Google Streetview photos, you can see the work that has went into unifying this building in to one harmonious space.
There is a small parking lot near the building, but it seems the back-in angled parking on Wahlberg is where most people park. The building’s entrance faces North Street. You walk through a small fence made out of recycled pallets to the get to the front door….which isn’t actually green. The name actually comes from Prohibition when speakeasy’s were marked with green doors.
That fence marks off a really nice little “beer garden” with some cornhole games and picnic tables that are lighted by string lights hung from the building.
It was too cold and rainy to sit outside so we headed inside to a fairly empty bar. We walked in just after 7:00 and there were only three or four people there. By the time we left at 9:00, the place was packed and there were people waiting for our seats.
The tasting room is deceivingly big, but tables are kind of spread out to give you a more intimate experience. You’re not sitting on top of the table next to you and the low lighting in the place gives it a much more comfortable feel than a crowded bar.
The bar itself is quite large wrapping around two sides of the tasting room. The bar is covered with recycled metal which is a theme for the distillery. You can see pallets used on the walls and recycled wood throughout.
Keeping with that recycled theme, J and I took a seat at one of the recycled church pews in a space near the windows that look into the distillery.
There’s one more really distinct seating area and that’s right next to the distillery windows. It’s a lounge area with comfy seats and a table. It’s a space that’s really conducive to playing board games….which they have stacked up near the door.
J had been to Green Door before but I had not. She and a friend had a girls day out a few weeks ago and that was one of the spots they went to check out. She pretty much knew what she wanted, but I needed a second. The bartender brought over some water and a couple of menus.
The bartender went over the menu quickly as we were looking at it. They have three spirits right now and use those three to create a great list of craft cocktails.
If you follow my beer drinking adventures, you know how much I like a good flight. They have an option for a small flight of the three spirits, First Ascent Whiskey, Abandoned Gin, and High Point Honey Whiskey. Each of the selections comes in a 0.5 oz pour. It’s just a small taste of each of the spirits. Just enough to get a good idea of what each of them tastes like.
J started out with Pat’s Old Fashioned. This tumbler is a mixture of High Point Honey Whiskey, muddled orange, ginger, simple syrup, and Green Door Woodland Bitters. The drink is then stirred with ice crafted from Apple and Cherry wood water and served with an orange twist for garnish. J loved this one and actually went back to it on our third round. I got a lot of orange pieces on the sip I took, but it actually was a very tasty drink.
For round two, I ordered The Gal at the Green Door. I couldn’t figure out if this was a “girly” drink or not, but it was damn tasty and I’d order it again. The drink is First Ascent Whiskey, pineapple juice, simple syrup, lime juice, and a hint of habanero. The bartender asked if I wanted it spicy or not because they pepper is just used for flavor. I said spicy is why I ordered it, so yeah. The cocktail was pretty cloudy and frothy from the pineapple juice. On first taste, there was no heat, but that heat snuck up and it sticks around. I could feel it on my tongue and lips quite a while after I set the glass down. It wasn’t a hurtful heat. It was just there and added just a little bit of extra flavor to the back end of the drink.
J’s second drink was the Smoked Grapefruit/Sage Tonic Water. The tonic water come with choice of spirit or non-alcoholic ($4 cheaper). J picked the High Point Honey Whiskey for the spirit because she loved the sweetness of it. The bartender recommended the Gin, but I think J was happy with the selection she made. The drink is grapefruit, sage, and agave nectar with seltzer water. It’s garnished with a lime wedge and sage. The smell of sage dominated the aroma of this drink which was quite refreshing.
My third drink was something I’m a little more accustomed to. I’m typically a bourbon guy and typically, just straight bourbon. I like it neat. Green Door doesn’t have bourbon yet. They have been in business long enough to have anything aged. J was pushing me towards the High Point Honey Whiskey because she really liked that one and wanted a couple of sips. I tend to gravitate towards straight whiskey, so I got a First Ascent on the rocks. They didn’t give me the option of neat and I didn’t ask, so I don’t know if they do it or not, but on the rocks was fine. I like the burn from whiskey and watering it down does make it a little less potent, but this whiskey is so good to begin with that a little ice doesn’t knock much off it. I was actually surprised by the size of the drink I got and it turned out to be a great capper to the night.
We spent about two hours at Green Door and dropped a little over $50 on three rounds of drinks. J and I don’t get out much so just a couple of hours to have adult conversations and slowly sip drinks is amazing. We were going to stop at two rounds, but Uber was in surge pricing, so we got another to wait that out. You’ll notice no talk of food as they don’t have a kitchen, but Louie’s Trophy House Grill is across the street and you can BYOF if that’s what you want to do.
Green Door Distilling Company is unique in Kalamazoo. We have a lot of breweries, but, as of know, only one distillery. I can’t wait to go back once they get some bourbon. This place is great for Kalamazoo and adds something new and different to the nightlife scene in this city.