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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.  

The Drop

The Drop is your source for all things craft. 

Filtering by Tag: coffee


Erica Sagon

Honey, vanilla, coffee, cinnamon ... hello, holidays! This festive cocktail makes winter nights merrier — sip it while you're waiting for the cookie dough to chill, online shopping or addressing Christmas cards.


By Jake Cifuentes

1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Honey Vanilla Vodka
1/2 ounce Cardinal Spirits Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur
1/4 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes cinnamon bitters
Lemon wheel and cloves, for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a clove-studded lemon wheel.


Jonna Mary Yost

From our bar stools to our cocktail ingredients, everything that we source here
at Cardinal Spirits has a story. Eventually, we'll tell you all of them.

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In towns across America, there's that one ice cream shop where everyone lines up on summer nights, hoping that the two dozen people in front of them have their order and money ready (they never do). In Bloomington, that place is The Chocolate Moose.

The tiny, old-school stand has a giant menu of homemade ice cream, soft serve and dairy-free flavors, served simply in cones or teased into shakes, floats, freezes, sundaes and parfaits. It's the kind of place where you might spend the entire time in line making a decision, and still not know your order when you get to the window.

The Moose's ice cream can be found at stores and restaurants in town, too. In fact, The Moose makes two varieties of spiked ice cream, just for Cardinal: Moscow Mule with our vodka, and one with our Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur. We sell them both by the scoop and by the half-pint at the distillery. 

We caught up with Justin Loveless, the owner of the Chocolate Moose, to get the scoop on this Bloomington icon:

CARDINAL: We are a long way from moose country. How did this Moose come to be?

JUSTIN: The original owners, the May family, built a restaurant in the ‘50s. Their son was not interested in the food industry, but loved the idea of homemade ice cream. When the Mays retired, they handed the restaurant to their son who opened it as an ice cream shop called The Penguin. Sometime in the ‘80s the May brothers sold the shop, only to buy it back a couple of years later. At that point they lost the rights to the name, and rather than spend extra money buying it back, they changed the name to The Chocolate Moose.

Strawberry sundae.

Strawberry sundae.

A 50-cent googly-eyed Torch Cone.

A 50-cent googly-eyed Torch Cone.

Say it's your first time at the Chocolate Moose, and you are nervously looking over the colossal menu. What do you order?

Keep it simple so you don't get embarrassed in front of the 30 people standing in line around you. Just order a simple cup of the homemade ice cream.

Which ice cream flavor is most popular?

The top selling item is the legendary Grasshopper — homemade mint Oreo. I suggest throwing some hot fudge on it.

What do you suggest when it comes to a Blizz (ice cream blended with your choice stir-ins like brownies, cookie dough and Reese's cups)?

I'm a chocolate/peanut butter guy, so I go with the homemade Moose Dream (homemade chocolate ice cream with peanut butter cups) with Heath bar stirred in.

Tell us about The Moose's dairy-free options. 

Our homemade vegan ice cream is very popular. It is a coconut milk–based ice cream instead of dairy–based. The majority of the sweetener is agave nectar. We currently have Vegan Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and Grasshopper. Special batches, such as Cookie Dough and Brown County Coffee, are made fairly often as well.

Moscow Mule ice cream made with Cardinal Spirits vodka.

Moscow Mule ice cream made with Cardinal Spirits vodka.

The Moose is now on menus all around town, serves Uel Zing coffee and Brown County coffee ice cream, and has been making special appearances in places like Upland and now Cardinal Spirits. What's the idea behind all these collaborations?

It’s a win­-win situation. Collaborating offers co-­promotion and allows two brand communities to come together. Ice cream made with a vodka base is fairly simple. I had made that type of ice cream previously for other restaurants, so dialed in on the Moscow Mule for Cardinal Spirits. Then we moved to Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur. Our winter project will be to pair with local breweries. Beer ice cream is a different animal.

What is in store for the Moose this fall?

We recently signed with Indiana University to be at sporting events, which is very exciting. We will have a stand that offers five or six different flavors available in half pints. The half pint is our newest twist.

Crowds at Food Truck Friday.

Crowds at Food Truck Friday.

Instagram it!

Instagram it!

On Fridays, a bunch of food trucks gather in your parking lot to serve lunch and dinner. How did Food Truck Friday get going?

It started as a fundraiser for the Project School at Bryan Park. Then we thought having food trucks would be a great way to utilize our parking lot. It’s fairly small overhead for us, and a lot of fun. Now we are theming each Friday, giving some a music festival feel, while others are focused on other big crowd pleasers.

The line outside the moose is almost always theme park worthy. Will ‘the box’ ever expand or change to meet the demand of anxious ice cream connoisseurs?

The theme is here to stay. Even with the possibility of future expansion, we would keep the feel of the place and all of the new additions would be made as replicas to what we currently have in place. The Moose has a footprint here in Bloomington.

Hey! We'll take one of everything.

Hey! We'll take one of everything.

A peek inside the tiny ice cream shop.

A peek inside the tiny ice cream shop.

How does a tiny ice cream stand stay alive year­-round?

Wholesale and our ice-delivery program is what keeps us going in the winter. What started as a summertime boutique blew up — a lot of people want our ice cream, so we now distribute to a lot of local grocery stores around town, including the IGA’s in Spencer, Unionville, and Brown County. As for the ice, we deliver to bars after hours, and cater to big events like weddings and happenings on campus. Just a couple months ago we put in an ice kiosk. It’s pretty sweet.

Photos by Jonna Yost and Cardinal Spirits.


Erica Sagon

Recipe and photos by Shelly Westerhausen

Each time we hear about a new way to use Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur, it seems like the best idea ever. But this. THIS is the one that tops them all. A boozy milkshake spiked with coffee liqueur is one of the most decadent, otherworldly things you can sip through a straw. 

What makes this milkshake so special is a couple of divine homemade extras. The first is a cocoa-shortbread crumble, which, when tucked into the bottom of the glass and heaped on top, adds a perfect crunch. The second is caramel sauce, which winds throughout the shake to give it even more flavor. If you're short on time, you can substitute store-bought cookies and sauce, of course. But, trust us: making it all from scratch is totally, completely worth it. 

Coffee Liqueur + Caramel Milkshake With Cocoa Shortbread Crumble

Serves 2

For the Cocoa Shortbread Crumble:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cornstarch
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup sugar
Dash of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of coffee extract (optional)
3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
¼ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt

For the Milkshake and assembly:
¼ cup whole milk
3 tablespoons caramel sauce, plus more to taste for garnish
3 cups vanilla ice cream
1 ounce Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur
2 tablespoons cocoa shortbread crumble, plus more to taste for garnish

For the Cocoa Shortbread Crumble:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix until combined.
  3. Add in the vanilla extract, coffee extract (if using), and butter and beat until the dough has formed into small clusters. 
  4. Transfer the clusters to the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer. The dough should be crumbled into pea-size pieces (or smaller). Bake for 15 minutes, stirring the crumbs around halfway through. Remove from heat and let cool. The crumbles will harden as they cool.

For the Caramel Sauce:

  1. In a small saucepan, cook the sugar, corn syrup, and water over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once bowling, DO NOT STIR (this makes the caramel grainy) cook for eight minutes, swirling the pan around occasionally, or until it has formed a deep brown color.
  3. Remove from heat, immediately add in the cream, and stir. Next, add in the butter and salt and whisk until smooth. Set aside and let cool slightly before using. 

To assemble:

  1. Combine the milk, caramel sauce, ice cream and Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
  2. Place a tablespoon each of the cocoa shortbread crumble in the bottom of two glasses and drizzle a little caramel sauce around the inside of each glass.
  3. Divide the blended shake between the glasses and top with more caramel sauce and cocoa shortbread crumb. 

NOTE: If you'd like, you can add more coffee liqueur to usher this milkshake into cocktail territory— just cut back on some of the whole milk so that the shake stays nice and thick. 

More recipes for Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur:

Cafe a l'Orange  |  Coffee and tonic  |   Up and Attem  |   White Russian


Erica Sagon

Did you grab a bottle of Bramble, our newest spirit, over the weekend? Flavored with local black raspberries, blackberries and hibiscus, this vodka is a summer essential. It goes great with so many flavors, from green tea to ginger, and it plays well with gin and our coffee liqueur, too. The best part is that you don't need a ton of ingredients to make cocktails with it. Try these easy Bramble cocktail ideas:


2.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Bramble Vodka
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
Blackberries, for garnish

  1. Add vodka and lemon juice to shaker with ice. 
  2. Shake vigorously and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a blackberry.

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1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Bramble Vodka
4 ounces iced tea

Combine Bramble and iced tea in a glass with ice. Garnish with a big mint sprig and lemon wedge. 


2.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Bramble Vodka
1/2 ounce Cardinal Spirits Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur
1 dash orange bitters

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. 
  2. Shake vigorously, then strain into a coupe glass. 


Erica Sagon

Fizzy iced coffee is so hot right now.

Over at, the coffee columnist declares: Coffee and Tonic Water Just May Be Your New Favorite Summer Drink.

(It is.)

Meanwhile, Bon Appétit asks, "What’s cooler than being cool? Ice-cold coffee with a whole lot of tonic water."

(So true.)

Drink writer Kara Newman says "the lines between cocktails and iced coffees are being increasingly blurred this summer."

(Kara would not lie about this stuff.)

Yes, coffee and tonic is this summer's power couple. And we know how to make it even better.

Cardinal Spirits' Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur plus tonic is a genius two-ingredient cocktail. It has the cool-factor of a Negroni: casual, yet bold and flavorful. 

Our Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur is a total secret weapon on its own — it has a smooth, intense coffee profile, with a hint of sweetness. It makes this whole coffee-and-tonic idea even more appealing, because you don't need to pull an espresso shot or make cold-brew coffee ahead of time. You just add tonic to the liqueur, giving it a refreshing, zippy twist. You could use soda water instead for a more mellow take. This is a masterful impromptu cocktail — the kind of thing you pour when friends pop by. 


1-2 ounces Cardinal Spirits' Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur
Tonic water (or substitute soda water)

Add coffee liqueur and ice to a glass (use 1 ounce liqueur for a small glass; 2 ounces for a larger glass). Top slowly with tonic or soda. Stir gently.

And that's it. It could not be easier. If you're itching for a little garnish, try a sprig of mint, a swath of citrus peel or a stick of cinnamon.

Mint + Coffee cocktail for the weekend

Catharine Dahm

If you've got a forest of mint growing in your backyard right now, you're probably looking for any excuse to use those sprigs. Cardinal bartender Andrew Wind is here to help. Here's his recipe for a refreshing summer drink that calls for a bunch of mint leaves ... you'll love this tasty, unexpected combo of mint, vanilla, coffee liqueur and coffee this weekend. Bottles of our Songbird Coffee Liqueur are sold at the distillery for $25.

Up and Attem

Makes 1 cocktail

10-12 mint leaves
 2 oz. Songbird coffee liqueur
1/4 oz. vanilla simple syrup (recipe below)
Espresso/cold brew/coffee, to taste

Add mint, coffee liqueur and vanilla simple syrup to shaker and muddle until mint leaves are slightly crushed.

Add ice and shake.

Strain into glass over ice.

Add cold espresso, cold brew, coffee of your choice!

Garnish with fresh mint

Vanilla Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean

Add sugar and water to a pot.

Split vanilla bean down middle, scrape out seeds, add to pot.

Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar begins to dissolve and mixture comes to boil, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and store in glass jar.

3 important questions for Andrew:

What do you like about mint?
It is so versatile. It can freshen up any meal or drink so easily.

Why should someone make this cocktail at home?
It takes no time at all and it is the perfect morning pick-me-up. It's summertime — who says you can't add a little booze in the morning?

If you could be any superhero...
Can I be a villain? Then I'd be Dr. Mischief... you know exactly what you're getting...



4 awesomely easy ways to use our coffee liqueur

Erica Sagon

Till the one day when our vodka met this coffee...

Our coffee liqueur launches today and when you bring a bottle home, you might be wondering what to do with it.

First, you should know that this is not the weird, old coffee liqueur that sat in your parents' cupboard for like three decades. You'll actually want to use this ... in everything. We use Hopscotch Coffee to make it — that's the excellent roaster and coffee shop just up the street from us.

Here are 4 easy and delicious ways to drink our coffee liqueur:

1. Splash some in your coffee. No need to measure. You'll know when.

2. Make a quick little coffee soda. Pour 2 ounces of coffee liqueur into a glass, add ice and top with club soda. That is refreshing.

3. Make a White Russian. It's classic recipe that's worth committing to memory: Pour 1 ounce of coffee liqueur and 2 ounces of vodka into an Old-Fashioned glass. Add ice. Stir. Float heavy cream on top.

4. Pour it over a couple scoops of ice cream. This is dessert at your next dinner party, where your guests declare you the most amazing host ever. Yay, you!