contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

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.  

Communication Breakdown

The Drop

The Drop is your source for all things craft. 

Communication Breakdown

Adam Quirk

We talk a lot about what we do and how we do it. The thoughts ahead are more about the "why." This is the rambling of a tired man in the middle of his distillery's first year. There is a monster at the end of this blog.

Hemingway said you should write drunk and edit sober. He knew that alcohol has a way of loosening up the mind (and tongue, and pen, and keyboard). The booze gets into us and all the sudden we don’t think twice before saying what's on our minds. The unseen weight of society telling us not to speak up is lifted. We lose our fear of embarrassment. This has some significant benefits, both to the drinker and to society at large. It's one reason we do what we do here at Cardinal Spirits.


For a young, drunk Hemingway, it means you can share your deep personal insights freely and unload any mental and emotional weight you’ve been lugging around. It is a temporary freedom, a furlough from the sobering daily grind of life as a worker bee in the hive of the American economy. It means sharing things that need to be shared, but have been kept inside for too long, hardening layers of plaque around what once was a grain of sand, and finally spitting out a pearl of wisdom in a drunken belch from your shell. It’s a release.

For the rest of us, the drinker is a fountain of potential. Many of the best ideas in history have bubbled up from booze-fueled conversations between actual geniuses and mortals experiencing moments of temporary clarity. Clarity is not a common association with spirits, but they break down the walls of mental defense so readily that it's not uncommon.

Unfortunately, there are forces at work that seem to be trying to prevent the sharing of ideas. Communication amongst the younger generations has devolved into vague hieroglyphics, reducing complex ideas and emotions into single-syllable words or even symbols. You can like something, or smiley-face something. What if you are slightly confused yet kind of turned on by something? No emoji for that yet. But the world will never be black and white, and we already have language to describe grey areas. We should add more words to the dictionary instead of condensing the ones we have.

At a higher level, our schools are teaching students that consuming information is more important than creating new ideas. Standardized tests contain multiple sections on reading and comprehension, but zero on writing and creativity. This means that when my cousin, a high school teacher in Indianapolis, gives a writing assignment to her English class, the resulting papers are nearly unreadable. Their ideas are simple, yet disorganized. Their vocabulary is small. Our government has forced schools to improve standardized test scores under threat of withdrawing funding, which means schools only teach what is on the standardized tests. Writing and creativity are devalued systematically. Does the government want consumers rather than communicators? I don’t know if there is a conspiracy at play or not, but we are surely losing something by not teaching the next generation how to properly express their ideas.

One of the big reasons we started Cardinal Spirits was that we were tired of consuming rather than creating. We wanted to hold something in our hands and say, "I made this, and I'm proud of it." That goes for communication as well. We spend the bulk of our marketing dollars and energy on creating things - blog posts, videos, recipes - that people actually enjoy and want. We want to create value and share ideas.

Communication should be a two-way street. Regardless of what our culture seems to be shouting, there is real value in talking to each other.

One of the greatest joys in life is sitting down across from another human being, toasting your health, and sharing ideas.

Homework assignment: Invite someone you barely know to have a drink at your favorite bar. Ask them what they have been thinking about recently. What things in the news, outside the headlines, have caught their attention? What is the biggest problem in their life? And what are they going to do about it? Flip to a random page in a book and discuss how the 3rd paragraph makes you both feel. If all goes well, order another drink.