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Grand Traverse Distilling Kalamazoo Tasting Room

December 20, 2018

  • 224 E. Michigan Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 254-8113
  • Website
  • Menu

A few weeks ago, J and I ended up at The Wine Loft after a show at Miller Auditorium.  We headed downtown to have a few drinks since we had a babysitter for the night.  Our intended destination was a new tasting room for a popular Northern Michigan distillery, but they close at 10:00.

We had another opportunity this past weekend when Frankie Ballard was in town for a show at the State Theatre.  We dropped the kids off with J’s parents then went to dinner at University Roadhouse.  We still had time before the 8:00 show so I once again suggested drinks.

We parked about halfway between the State Theatre and Grand Traverse Distilling’s new Tasting Room in Kalamazoo.  The distillery took over a store front on East Michigan Avenue in a space that has sat empty since not long after the smoking ban took effect and pushed Winston’s out.

Grand Traverse Distilling’s home base is in Traverse City.  They have six tasting rooms around the state.  We didn’t realize this when we walked in but they don’t have a bar license so they’re pretty limited in what they can serve.

I never visited Winston’s before it closed so it’s hard to tell what has changed since those days.  The tasting room is fairly small and intimate with just a half a dozen or so tables spread through and L-shaped space around a staircase in the center of the room that is closed off.  There is local art hanging on the walls and the decor is kept dark with deep greens and dark stained woods.

We initially sat down at a table but noticed there was space at the bar.

The back of the bar is lined up to the ceiling with bottles of their spirits.  Neither of us have had anything from Grand Traverse so we we had been looking forward to this for a while.

There were menus sitting on the bar but the bartender still had to explain it to us.  As I mentioned before, they’re a tasting room and don’t have a bar license so they can’t actually sell alcohol.  They can, however, sell you a glass and give you alcohol with it.  They can also sell you mixers, they just can’t mix it for you.

With the purchase of a glass for $5, you get three tastes of their spirits.  J actually picked three different types.

I, on the other hand, just asked for their three whiskey’s.

I started with the Ole George Rye Whiskey.  This one will really put hair on your chest.

Then mellowed out a bit with the Cherry Whiskey

And finished strong with the Straight Bourbon.  Bourbon is always my favorite so just like beer flights, I save it for last.

Once we finished the initial tastings, the bartender told us about a special they were having.  They were selling little cups of egg nog to mix with the vodka.  J decided to try one of those too and she was handed two little plastic cups with the ingredients and a glass with ice.  That’s kind of how it works.  You can buy tonic water, or Faygo cola among other things to make your own drink….they just can’t mix anything for you.

Our bill was a little over $15 and we got to walk away with two small glasses.

Grand Traverse Distillery is a really great addition to downtown Kalamazoo.  It’s unfortunate that the tasting room license doesn’t allow them to actually make cocktails.  They would be really successful in that location if that was an option.  Even without it, the tasting room was pretty packed and a DJ was setting up as we were leaving so it appears they’re doing just fine.  This was a great stop before our show.  We got to try some new things and still had some room for beers at the State.




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