Liquor laws that now enable a distillery to serve and sell its own products will undoubtedly usher in many new local projects that combine distilleries with restaurant and bars, but we might not see one bigger than Cutwater Spirits, which officially opens its 50,000-square-foot empire in the Miramar area this week. Its sleek digs may be new, but the craft distillery and its products have been a staple on local bar and store shelves for some time. Celebrating its ninth anniversary later this summer, the distillery started under the Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits umbrella but rebranded as Cutwater Spirits earlier this year. Its experienced management team, along with a food and beverage powerhouse, have joined forces to run the tasting bar and kitchen for this emerging spirits company.
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. starting this Wednesday, the massive glassed-in frontside of the building is shaped like a ship, complete with a water feature that sends a spray across its bow. Fashioned by Robinson Brown Design Inc, it spans a large patio, dining room, fireplace-heated lounge and central bar with a 220-person capacity. There will be valet service, as well as self-parking, to accommodate the crowds. A 40-foot continuous column still stands gleaming in the entryway, one of five house stills ranging from two experimental schnapps stills to its original still crafted from an upside-down beer fermenter.
More than 90% of the spirits served at the bar and used in its craft cocktails will be made on-site. Its Devil’s Share Single Malt and Bourbon are meant exclusively for sipping, or served in flights of straight spirits ranging from whiskey to rum, gin and vodka, but Cutwater has also blended some of its own product with sourced finished product to bottle Black Skimmer American Whiskey and Bourbon which will be used in its house cocktails. Aiming for a food and drink that’s both progressive and approachable, the dinner menu includes a egg-topped burger with gruyere and caramelized onions and a duck confit with mustard greens, raisin puree and vadouvan Cocktails range from Cutwater’s classic canned gin and tonic to the Signal Flare made with Three Sheets Aged Rum,Mezcal, vanilla, Fernet Branca and salt.
Expect a steady stream of spirits releases to come, from canned vodka sodas in flavors including cucumber and grapefruit to a debut batch of cask strength rum that will initially only be available at the tasting bar. There will be a bottle shop, which can sell the equivalent to three 750ml bottles per customer per day, along with free tours offered on the hour from noon to 7 p.m. daily that include a peek inside Cutwater’s 200 barrel foeders.