December 2021

Photo of Ann Arbor Distilling Company

By Michael Fox

Tucked away just a block west of Main Street, in the north side of downtown Ann Arbor, sits the Ann Arbor Distilling Company (A2DC). In an industry dominated by large factory-produced and conglomerate-owned spirits, A2DC is a rare and refreshing exception. You may very well have sipped a cocktail on the patio at the tasting room, or enjoyed a bottle of their spirits at home, but there is a story behind every cocktail and every bottle.

A2DC was created in December 2015 with the mission to create world-class spirits right here in Ann Arbor from locally grown and sourced ingredients. The State of Michigan is second only to California in agricultural diversity with over 300 commodities produced and more than 50,000 farms. A2DC prides itself on showcasing all that Michigan has to offer in the products that they produce.

Every ounce of grain used to make their spirits is grown in Michigan. In fact, it’s grown right here in Washtenaw County and processed at the historic Dexter Mill. In addition to the locally grown grain, as many ingredients as possible are grown and produced here in Michigan. Whether it’s the fruits used in making their Water Hill Fruit Liqueurs, the locally roasted coffee used to make Spaulding’s Coffee Liqueur, or the produce and botanicals used in making their Seasonal Gins, as much as possible is grown right here in Michigan.

Another unusual aspect of A2DC’s business model is that every drop is made here in Ann Arbor. Many distilleries buy bulk spirits from large factories. Some redistill it to create their own products, others just bottle it and label it as their own. A2DC controls every aspect of production — from choosing the grain to fermentation, distillation, and ultimately bottling and labelling the spirits by hand.

The local food movement has been alive and well for years. In a time when most of us want to know where our food comes from, how it was produced, and prefer to keep as much of our money as possible here in the local economy, we should be thinking the same way about what we drink. Ann Arbor Distilling Company spirits are a delicious way to enjoy the bounty of Michigan while contributing to the success of our local farms and businesses.

You can ask for Ann Arbor Distilling Company products in stores and restaurants across Michigan, or stop by the distillery for cocktails or bottle sales. Here are some recommendations to try sometime this season:

Ann Arbor Distilling Company Winter Gin — distilled from locally grown corn with over 20 different botanicals, including Michigan-grown Norwegian Spruce and peppermint.  

Fox River Michigan Whiskey — distilled from a blend of locally grown corn, rye, wheat, and barley. Aged in barrels, then finished by filtering over Michigan cherrywood charcoal.

Try a couple of our favorite cocktail recipes using these recommendations:

Frosty Gimlet

  • 1 oz A2DC Winter Gin
  • 0.75 oz Spaulding’s Peppermint Schnapps
  • 0.75 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup

Shake all ingredients well in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass, then garnish with a lime wheel.

Blackberry Bramble

  • 2.5 ounces Fox River Michigan Whiskey
  • 0.5 ounce orange juice
  • 0.5 ounce simple syrup
  • 0.75 ounce Water Hill Blackberry Liqueur

Shake all ingredients well in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a rocks glass with ice, then garnish with orange peel and blackberries.