Get to know the places that serve and sell Cardinal Spirits.
VITALS >> Malibu Grill, on the Square in downtown Bloomington. Restaurant, full bar, patio.
THE SCENE >> Calling this place an institution makes it sound too stuffy, but it is an indispensable Bloomington classic. The bar turns out solid cocktails from a knowledgeable crew — on the menu, you'll find well-made, unfussy classics plus bartenders' creations. To some, it's a sports bar. To others, it's where deals are done. Simply put: It's the kind of place that always feels right.
CARDINAL SIGHTINGS >> Three cocktails made with Cardinal Spirits are on the menu. There's the tall and frosty Pimm's Cup No. 106, with American Gin, Pimm's, lemon, cucumber, mint and ginger beer. Then there's the elegant Cardinal Club, with American Gin, orange curaçao, lime and bitters. And, the refreshing Cardinal Smash, with vodka, muddled fruit, mint and lemon.
POPULARITY CONTEST >> Aside from the classic cocktails on the menu, the most popular drink at Malibu is the Pimm's Cup with Cardinal Spirits Vodka, says Emmie O'Connor, the lead bartender at Malibu. "It's a really light, refreshing, patio kind of drink. It won't weight you down the way a Manhattan would," she says.
TRY SOMETHING NEW >> Tired of the same old, same old? Give the snappy Niko Suave a shot. This tequila-lime juice-vanilla liqueur cocktail was inspired by a tequila daiquiri that Emmie had once in Cleveland.
THE EMMIE WAY >> "The way my brain works when it comes to cocktails, is I start with something classic — a margarita build or Manhattan build — and keep twisting it until it's something different," Emmie says.
SECRET WEAPON >> Fresh ingredients from the bottom up, including fruit juices and simple syrups. "Juice, juice juice. I can't tell you how many limes and lemons I've juiced. It's a labor of love," Emmie says.
PRECIOUS CARGO >> Malibu is the kind of bar where a coupe glass is filled to the tippy-top and gets delivered without losing a drop. We could all benefit from this bartenders' trick: Do not look at the drink while you're moving it. "I don't know why it works, but it does," Emmie says.
INSTAGRAM THIS >> The Pimm's Cup with Cardinal Spirits Vodka (above) is ready for its close up. A tall, vibrant cocktail with a lush mint sprig and a stripey straw. Adorbs.
BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE >> Seat D4. It's the last seat on the short side of the bar, right next to the wall. You can see everything from here, Emmie says, including a full view of the bartenders doing their thing. Also, booth 33: It's the last booth before the kitchen, and a favorite of Malibu regulars.
THE OFF-MENU ORDER >> The Deantini — it's Grey Goose vodka on the rocks with two blue cheese-stuffed olives and a lemon twist. The martini was named after Dean Kleinschmidt, a Malibu regular for years and years, and a former head athletic trainer for Indiana University's football team.
SO SPECIAL >> Monday: $5 Moscow Mules. Tuesday: $12 select bottles of wine. Wednesday: Half-price martinis. Thursday: $5 bartender's choice. Sunday: $5 Bloody Marys and mimosas.
OFF DUTY >> What does Malibu's head bartender drink when she leaves work? A glass of red wine or a dark spirit on the rocks, Emmie says.