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922 South Morton Street
Bloomington, IN, 47403
United States


Cardinal Spirits is a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana that specializes in producing extraordinary spirits from local ingredients.  

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Filtering by Category: Recipes

Flavor Extraction in Water and Alcohol

Adam Quirk

During product development we use alcohol (EtOH) infusions to extract flavors. Over the years we've learned that optimum flavors are extracted from ingredients based on four main variables: time, temperature, ABV, and ratio of ingredient to substrate. We've also found that contrary to some published recipes and common knowledge, higher ABV does not always mean a faster or better extraction.

For instance, coffee is extracted for optimum flavor in a very low 10% ABV solution, in just over 12 hours, at around 60°F, using a 1:10 ratio of medium ground coffee to liquid. That sort of thing just takes trial and error to figure out, and sometimes you can lean on previous work by reading as many recipes as you can find.

Another very visual example of this is cardamom. When you extract cardamom in-pod, you want to use around 40% ABV over the course of 72hrs or so. If you use a higher ABV, like say NGS at 95% ABV, the extraction isn't as complete because a lot of the flavor and color molecules in cardamom are water soluble, not EtOH soluble. 

Cardamom extraction after 48hrs in 95% ABV NGS on left - 40% ABV vodka on right

Cardamom extraction after 48hrs in 95% ABV NGS on left - 40% ABV vodka on right

Most melons, fruits, and vegetables with high water content will be similar - the extraction needs more water than alcohol. 

Something to keep in mind when you're trying to hone your recipes!

Recipe: Tree Line

Adam Quirk

The Cardinal Spirits crew is heading to Denver this afternoon for the first annual ACDA (American Craft Distilling Association) conference. 

To send us on our way, we mixed up a batch of The Tree Line, the winner of the 2011 Colorado Cocktail Contest. It’s made from spirits from one of our favorite craft distilleries - Leopold Brothers - who are originally from Michigan but have been distilling in Denver for several years.

We think the combination of fresh cherries and herbal liqueur, bright citrus, and a spicy whiskey is the perfect transitional cocktail for this late Winter, early Spring weekend.

Recipe courtesy

Tree Line

2 Bing cherries
2 oz. Leopold's Small Batch Whiskey
.5 oz Leopold's Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur
.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup

Muddle cherries, lemon juice and simple syrup; add whiskey and Three Pins; add ice and shake. Serve up. Garnish with round slice of lemon peel (to replicate the Colorado sun). Drink and enjoy!

Abraham Lincoln and Applejack

Adam Quirk

Abraham Lincoln didn’t always drink liquor, but when he did, it was probably applejack. Considering he’d be celebrating his 205th birthday today, I’m pretty sure he’d be having one of his favorite cocktails—or maybe even two.

Though Lincoln mainly sipped on coffee and water, and was known as someone who ate to live, not lived to eat — a rare breed of man that needs to be studied further — he ran his own tavern in Springfield, Ill., where he sold a half pint of applejack for 12 cents.

But applejack goes back further than Lincoln.

Laird & Company, the oldest commercial distillery in the United States and only producer of applejack, is a family-run business in Scobeyville, New Jersey that started in 1780. Though the distillery’s most popular applejack today is 80 proof, a blend of 35 percent apple brandy and 65 percent neutral grain spirits aged in a used bourbon barrel for at least four years, Lincoln enjoyed pure apple juice that was fermented and distilled.

And Lincoln wasn’t alone in his applejack lovin’. Before whiskey and rum were introduced in America in the 18th century, applejack was known as America’s favorite drink. It’s even believed that George Washington, the president with whom we’d most likely associate with apples, requested the Laird’s give him their applejack recipe way back in the 1760s.

Washington dined with Moses Laird, the uncle of the Laird who started the distillery, the evening before the Battle on Monmouth, and it’s safe to assume multiple glasses of applejack were enjoyed. But enough with Washington — his birthday’s not for another week and a half. 

Today’s Abe’s day.

So in honor of the 16th president’s birthday, we’re giving you a recipe for an applejack cocktail, the Short Story, from Mouton in Columbus, Ohio:

  • Applejack
  • Rye
  • Barreled aged simple syrup
  • Pernod

Shake with ice and serve in a cocktail glass with a lemon peel.

And if you’re looking for more ways to pay tribute to Honest Abe, you can make Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake using her original recipe, which can be found here. It may not be the weekend, but there’s no reason you can’t celebrate on a Wednesday. So raise your glass to Lincoln, one of America’s greatest presidents, because he sure as hell deserves a toast.