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Twisted Path Distillery

Milwaukee, WI

 

Crusin’ Rating: B-

Booze Rating: B

 

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Wine Beer Distillery Blogger- Twisted Path Distillery- Bar

This week is our final stop within the Lincoln Warehouse and the only non-brewery watering hole there! Twisted Path Distillery shares a wall with New Barons Brewing Cooperative but it is night and day difference between the space and the offerings. While New Barons is serving up lots of different beers, Twisted Path is working on various cocktail concoctions in a dark, plant-filled and moody space that pays some homage to the history of the building while keeping it stylish and alive.


We were fortunate enough to be gifted a couple of tickets for a tour with thehead distiller/owner. While the tour was informative, the background of the tour itself was far more interesting! It’s not every day that you meet an owner/distiller who used to work as an attorney and before that worked for the CIA! We did glean from the tour that that’s where the name, Twisted Path, comes from as the owner experienced a long winding way through life before landing in Milwaukee and opening a distillery.



As I mentioned before, the space is dedicated to enjoying cocktails, and even the small private lounge where we ended our tour with a tasting is fairly dark. Dark wood, dark and aged metal, black paint; it all sucks in the light from the front windows and very much is reminiscent of a scene from The Last of Us, especially with the pop of green color from the many plants spread throughout the space. I find the use of plants to be a very underrated addition and in our book, a perpetually welcomed addition to any space. I also have to say that I quite enjoyed the light coming in from the outside and dancing through green leaves with the black paint adding some moody contrast. Walking inside the bar feels like walking into a cozy, quiet room in a house in the woods. I know we often rail against the lack of light, but I make an exception for a cocktail lounge because that’s really what Twisted Path is at heart, a cocktail bar that makes it’s own spirits. It’s not uncommon to see distilleries slinging drinks with their own product and a few that we’ve been to stand out enough to return to. There’s definitely a difference though between a distillery that has a bar to enjoy their spirits and a distillery that is really a cocktail spot and Twisted Path is definitely going for the latter.



Included with our tour, we had a chance to try the below five spirits. We did not do a spirit flight but they are available for $12 which includes five ½ oz pours.


Vodka (40% ABV) - We learned from our tour that the vodka distilled at Twisted Path is made to intentionally have flavor- unlike most vodkas. We picked up butterscotch, caramel and sweet, creamy corn on the nose and some lightly toasted cashews and noticeable butterscotch when tasting. At least for me, this is a fundamental skip this one. I am a firm believer that vodka can have a little flavor, but really it should be able to be mixed with anything and everything, it should be clean-profiled and I don’t think I will ever be convinced otherwise, unless you’re talking a specifically flavored or infused vodka. Even then, there are very rare instances where I am going to infused the vodka outside of maybe some savory cocktails, and oddly there’s another flavored vodka that Twisted Path makes that I quite enjoyed. I don’t want to grab a bottle of vodka and pour it into a drink only to be surprised by underlying notes of butterscotch.


Gin (40% ABV) - Gin gets a bad rap and growing up with a great-grandparent that loved gin gimlets, I always associated gin with a cozy home. If you read our article on the predecessor of Gin - Genever out at Awildan - you’d know that I’ve become fond enough of Gin that I look for even more undertones and botanicals to be added than come standard. This gin had the usually suspects when smelling, lots of juniper and pine, but I also detected a little bit of honey which was refreshing and even a hint of vanilla when smelling. That touch of lemon came through and even a detectable amount of lime rind when tasting buried beneath juniper and floral notes. I didn’t mind this gin for the flavor profile, but I did think it was a little rough around the edges in terms of the aggressiveness of the alcohol burn.


Rye (50%ABV) - Wisconsin’s first bottled-in-bond rye whiskey -

bottled in bond is a classification in which the liquor is bottled all in one season at one distillery and aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S Government supervision and was one of the first examples of consumer protection put into law to ensure whiskey was made to a certain set of standards

this rye smells of corn meal with fairly low spice although I count whiffs of some pepper and vanilla. We also found this Rye to be a little bit of a let-down in the flavor department. Instead of bold peppery bites from the rye we instead found faint caramel and a little cinnamon in the finish but it really was something we needed to look for, even after a palate cleanse. I think that subtle would be a misnomer, instead it was so alcohol forward that there wasn’t room for a lot of subtlety.


Chai Liqueur (40% ABV) - Here is the reason we really wanted to visit the distillery: to try the Twisted Path Chai. I’ve run across maybe one other Chai Liqueur at Northern Waters Distillery and it was okay. I wanted to try this offering from Twisted Path

a) because word of mouth said it was solid

b) it’s somewhat unique in the fact that it is the same ABV as most straight spirits.

If you look at a lot of other liqueurs, don’t be surprised if the ABV hovers around 20%, but for this one to be bottled at 40% definitely piqued my interest, requiring little else to make cocktail at least in terms of the alcohol content. In fact, we learned that the employees enjoy this with a little chocolate syrup and some ice cream to make boozy Chai floats. That’s something that definitely interested me as I am always looking for things to tamper with in the home bar, plus, Chai is Hannah’s favorite tea!

This liqueur was fairly one note and that note was Chai, but, if you don’t know what Chai is or have never tried a Chai Latte from Starbucks then think of it similar in flavor profile to the more adult pumpkin spice: Cardamom is usually the most prevalent, and there can also be Star Anise, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, and sometimes even pepper and coriander. I’ve always thought of it as the more complex and adult version of pumpkin spice and you don’t have to wait until September to battle girls in poof ball hats and puffy vests to get it! I enjoyed that this was a liqueur that definitely leans savory rather than bitter, sweet or sour. We enjoyed this enough to buy a bottle to bring home for me to tamper with and for Hannah to add to her ice cream. If you’re a fan of Chai, I think this is the best option in the state that we’ve come across.


Bloody Vodka (40%ABV) - You know, a Bloody Mary is one of Hannah’s favorite drinks. I take pride in the bloodies I make at home and I do all of my own pickling and was just on the cusp of trying my hand at a totally from scratch bloody mix. You want to know what all of that takes? Time. Bloody Mary’s are time consuming. Enter the Bloody Vodka from Twisted Path. If you’re like Hannah and even enjoy the odd Bloody Mary after work here and there and don’t want to be mixing up your own bloody mix and you don’t want to spend 8 bucks on Zing Zang (even though I use it in one of the Cruzin' For Booze bloody recipes!) can you really beat a vodka that you just have to add to some tomato juice or V8 that you have on a shelf?

It’s another funny coincidence that we had been to a bar recently where someone had infused gin with dill and sun-dried tomatoes to make a riff on a Bloody Mary martini which got me thinking, why, instead of wasting money bloody mix or spending an hour making bloody mix at home, why not infuse ingredients into vodka to try and impart those flavors into the spirit and then just put that into some tomato juice?

Twisted Path beat me to it. They had the exact same thought of how perishable tomato juice is, bloody mix, and all of those ingredients so they went ahead and made a shelf-stable vodka that has salty, dill, spice, garlic, all of that right into the the base spirit they have and make a bloody vodka. While I am never going to be a major Bloody Mary fan you can bet that Hannah insisted we buy a bottle to keep at home for those instances wherein she wants to serve up a batch of quick bloodies for the girl’s brunch or she needs a savory drink on a Friday evening.



Am I still going to make a Crusin' For Booze from scratch bloody mix? Absolutely!


Am I still going to try and infuse vodka at home for a bloody martini and your own infused bloody vodka. OH, DEFINITELY. I always find that making your own stuff is usually cheaper, tastes better, and gives you a little bit of pride in your work.


Will Zing Zang and vodka still be serviceable if you aren’t cooking at home and want to keep your bloodies nice and affordable? Of course.


In sum, I enjoyed the look and feel of the place and we definitely found two bottles that were easy take-homes for us. As far as cocktails go, we each got one. Hannah got the bloody with just the Bloody Vodka and Tomato juice which I found to be a little salty but she enjoyed enough to insist on a bottle for home use. I tried a Chai Sour and while I enjoyed the Chai aspect, I found the cocktail to be wildly unbalanced since there was no egg white used. The Chai and lemon are flavors that worked together which may not be intuitive, but without the addition of egg white it ended up being overly sour with an unsatisfyingly thin mouthfeel. While I cannot judge a spot by just one drink alone, there is incredibly steep competition in Milwaukee in the cocktail scene and since Twisted Path seems to be marketing themselves as an upscale cocktail spot, I would say maybe buy some bottles for home use, or maybe look for your favorite spot and see if the Chai is on the shelf or listed as an ingredient. I would definitely recommend trying the bottles mentioned previously if you are fans of those flavors but I’m actually going to say that you can pick up those bottles in store, and unless you are making a Booze Cruise out of the Lincoln building in Milwaukee, there are going to be better cocktails at that price point in short driving distance.


Until next time, keep on cruisin’, don’t stop boozin’!


To learn more about Twisted Path Distillery, please visit their website at: https://www.twistedpathdistillery.com/ or on Facebook: @TwistedPathMKE or on Instagram: @TwistedPathDistillery

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