Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2bar delivers Independent Spirits

When I made it out to 2bar, I realized I was in familiar territory. Located at 2960 4th Ave South, it's in the same building complex that used to house one of the best liquor stores in the state before privatization. If you were looking for really hard to find independent stuff, this was the place to go. The state is no longer present but thanks to 2bar, you can still get quality independent liquor there.

Opening in October of 2012, it consists of Nathan Kaiser, Chris Lehmann and Zach Zelinski & Zack Stockman, who oversee night time operation:

Nathan Kaiser is the owner. He used to be the COO of Blue Box, and has been involved in startups of one kind or another for years. He wanted to get back into the business of making things. The 2bar name comes from his family's farm in Yoakum, Texas. And, he wants to carry on the 2bar legacy.
He wants to grow the business and still stay true to the craft. He sees a groundswell of the DIY (do it yourself) culture emerging into the mainstream, and considers craft distilleries to be an integral part of this Renaissance.

Chris Lehmann, head distiller, is a living, walking encyclopedia on whiskey making knowledge. His favorites are single malt Scotches, so it will be interesting to see if they decide to start producing a single malt American whiskey in the future. When I showed up, he had just had gotten back from Springbank distillery in Scotland. There, they still employ about 40 people, compared to the average of 5-8 per distillery (most work at large distilleries has been automated.) He worked alongside them, learning some of the very subtle parts of the craft.

Chris & Nathan, with their new bourbon barrels

Why Liquor?
Nathan wanted to get back into making real-world products, instead of just offering virtual solutions. With a degree in Microbiology and a love of moonshine, 2bar Spirits was a perfect combination of education and interests.

2bar Spirits is about quality, locally sourced and produced spirits and about celebrating moments in time.

There are two cultures that tend to emerge in any business. One is where each employee hoards all the knowledge and techniques that they have amassed over the years, in order to gain an edge over their fellow employee. While this can greatly benefit the individual, the company as a whole can suffer greatly. The other culture is a culture of sharing. When one person learns a new technique, he shares it with all of the coworkers who will benefit or are interested in hearing about it. These companies have lower turnover, happier employees, and most importantly, tend to do really well over time. Nathan has based all of his businesses off of the later model.

Family Legacy
The original 2bar was (and still is) a cattle ranch in Yoakum, Texas. His grandfather is 82 and still works it. His Grandfather’s dad passed away with he was only eight years old and he and his then 11 year old brother had to start supporting the family and the ranch with their mother.

Although there are no records (or court submittable evidence!), there are hints and rumors of moonshining stories the family passed down over the ages. Whether true of not (again, no evidence!) Nathan sees his distillery as a way to honor his family heritage. One thing that has plenty of evidence is the family work ethic. This is integral to Nathan's business dealings.

They work with and buy directly from local farmers, not through distributors. They like to deal with people instead of conglomerates whenever possible. In this business especially, relationships matter. This ties into why they make liquor in the first place. When I asked if they would go to a distributor if one of the family farms they worked with went under, Nathan's response was, “No, we'd find another farmer.”

And with these relationships, they are looking more to consistently improve their offerings than to keep a consistent flavor profile.

Each fermentation tank is named after someone lovely.  This is (obviously) June Carter

Right now, they make a sipping vodka and moonshine, with bourbon aging in barrels for later release. It will be coming out soon, but they haven't given a date yet. Their first batch was laid into casks in January of this year. I was able to smell a sample, and it is coming along nicely.


High notes, sweet. Almost reminiscent of Jameson 18 year. The mash is primarily made from local wheat, but doesn’t have as much of a ‘play-doh’ taste as some wheat based whiskey that I’ve tried.

Smooth for a moonshine (smoother than Bruichladdich Rocks, for comparison), nice depth of flavor. If you’ve had other moonshine before, don’t be afraid to try it at their tasting room before you pick up a bottle. It's very drinkable. I’d prefer mine straight over having it in a mixed drink.

Nathan, “Overall, Moonshine is a precursor to Bourbon. If you were to put it in a new charred oak barrel it would become a Bourbon. In the case of 2bar Moonshine and 2bar Bourbon, we have used different mash bills for both, though both are still majority corn. Also, our Moonshine is a standalone whiskey. It was never meant to go into a barrel, it if was it would have the harshness associated with other moonshines or white dogs.”

So, where can you get it?  As of July 2013, this is the most complete list!
You can find 2 Bar Spirits at:

Company Name Address City
T&C - Town & Country 343 East Winslow Way Bainbridge Island
BevMo! 1100 Bellevue Way NE Bellevue
Black Bottle - Bellevue 919 Bellevue Way NE Bellevue
Total Wine & More 699 120th Avenue NE Bellevue
Archer Ale House 1212 10th Street Bellingham
BevMo! 114 West Stuart Road Bellingham
Copper Hog 1327 North State St. Bellingham
Green Frog 1015 N. State St. Bellingham
Liquor Depot 1255 Barkley Blvd Bellingham
Market - Lakeway 1030 Lakeway Drive Bellingham
The Real McCoy Home Bar & Kitchen 114 Prospect St. Bellingham
2point0 Cafe and Wine Bar 1912 201st Place SE Bothell
Preservation Kitchen 17121 Bothell Way NE Bothell
Edmonds IGA Market 550 Fifth Avenue So. Edmonds
Broadway Liquor - Everett 2027 Broadway Avenue Everett
Fall City Liquor 33625 SE Redmond-Fall City Rd Fall City
King's Market 160 Spring St. Friday Harbor
Rumor Mill 175 First St. Friday Harbor
Flat Iron Grill 317 NW Gilman Blvd Issaquah
Bridle Trails Red Apple 6625 132nd AVE NE Kirkland
Brix Wine Cafe 9749 NE 119th Way Kirkland
Metropolitan Market - Kirkland 10611 N.E. 68th St. Kirkland
Lopez Village Red Apple Market 214 Lopez Road Lopez Island
Wine 101 11601 Harbour Pointe Blvd Mukilteo
G3 Liquors - West Olympia 400 Coopers Pt. Rd SW #24 Olympia
Ramblin Jacks 520 E. 4th Ave. Olympia
Total Wine & More 625 Black Lake Blvd Olympia
Burrata Bistro 19006 Front Street Poulsbo
HIGH SPIRITS LIQUOR STORE 19880 7th Ave NE STE 101 Poulsbo
BevMo! 2180 148th Ave NE Redmond
Redmond Ridge Liquor Store 22310 NE Market Dr #108 Redmond
611 Supreme 611 E Pine Street Seattle
BalMar 5449 Ballard Ave. NW Seattle
Barrio - Capitol Hill 1420 12th Ave. Seattle
Bastille Cafe and Bar 5307 Ballard Ave Seattle
BevMo! 10700 5th Avenue NE Seattle
BevMo! 850 NW 45th Street Seattle
Bick's Broadview Grill 10555 Greenwood Ave. N Seattle
Blackboard Bistro 3247 California Ave. SW Seattle
Bob's Lake City Liquor 9824 Lake City Way NE Seattle
Cal's American Classic - Seattle 404 Terry Avenue N. Seattle
Calamity Jane's 5701 Airport Way South Seattle
Capco Beverages - West Seattle 4100 SW Alaska Ste#A Seattle
Columbia Tower Club 701 5th Ave. South Seattle
Copper Coin 2329 California Ave SW Seattle
Crow Restaurant & Bar 823 5th Ave. N Seattle
Crown Hill Liquor & Wine 1120 NW 85th Street Seattle
Delancey 1415 NW 70th St. Seattle
Delicatus 103 1st Ave. S Seattle
Downtown Spirits 2300 7th Avenue #A Seattle
Esquin 2700 4th Ave. South Seattle
Etta's Seafood Restaurant 2020 Western Ave. Seattle
Green Leaf Belltown 2800 1st Ave Seattle
Innkeeper 2510 1st Ave Seattle
Kangaroo & Kiwi 2026 NW Market St Seattle
Local 360 2234 First Avenue Seattle
Lottie's Lounge 4900 Rainier Avenue So. Seattle
Metropolitan Market - Admiral 2320 42nd Ave. SW Seattle
Metropolitan Market - Uptown/Mercer Street 100 Mercer St. Seattle
Northwest Liquor & Wine - Capitol Hill 1605 12th Ave Seattle
QFC 9999 Holman Road Seattle
QFC 2746 NE 45th Seattle
QFC 8400 35th Ave NE Seattle
Radiator Whiskey 94 Pike Street Seattle
Ray's Boathouse 6049 Seaview Ave. NW Seattle
Row House Cafe 1170 Republican St. Seattle
Roxy's Backdoor 462 N 36th St Seattle
Royal Room 5000 Rainer Ave Seattle
Seattle Yacht Club 1807 East Hamlin Seattle
Skillet Street Food 1408 E Union Seattle
Spur 113 Blanchard St. Seattle
Steelhead Diner 72 S Pine St. Seattle
Tanakasan 2131 Sixth Avenue Seattle
The Sexton 5327 Ballard Ave NW Seattle
Total Wine & More 2701 - 184th St SW Seattle
Trace Restaurant 1112 4th Ave. Seattle
Tractor 5213 Ballard Avenue NW Seattle
Triple Door 216 Union Street Seattle
Vessel 624 Olive Way Seattle
Wine World Warehouse 400 NE 45th Street Seattle
Central Market - Shoreline 15505 Westminister Way No. Shoreline
North City Bistro 1520 NE 177th St. Shoreline
BevMo! 3126 NW Randall Way Silverdale
Snoqualmie Casino 37500 SE North Bend Way Snoqualmie
Snoqualmie Tobacco Company & Liquor Store 37500B SE North Bend Way Snoqualmie
Bon Bon 926 W. Garland Ave Spokane
Casper Fry 928 S. Perry Suite #B Spokane
Central Food 1335 W SUMMIT PKWY Spokane
Eggers South Hill Liquor 5611 S. Perry Street Spokane
Huckleberry's Natural Market 926 S. Monroe Street Spokane
Jones Radiator 120 East Sprague Spokane
Pita Pit 6314 N Ash Street Spokane
Stella's Cafe - Spokane 917 W Broadway Ave Spokane
The Swinging Doors 1018 W. Francis Avenue Spokane
Total Wine & More 9980 N Newport HWY Spokane
Adriatic Grill 4201 S. Steele st. Tacoma
BevMo! 2330 S. 37th Street Tacoma
El Gaucho - Tacoma 2119 Pacific Ave. Tacoma
Metropolitan Market - Tacoma 2420 N. Proctor St. Tacoma
Pop's Liquor Store 2805 6th Avenue Tacoma
BevMo! 17197 Southcenter Parkway Tukwila
BevMo! 700 SE 160th Ave Vancouver
Total Wine & More 4816 NE Thurston Way Vancouver
Vashon Liquor Store 17607 Vashon Highway SW Vashon
Barking Frog - Willows Lodge 14580 Ne 145th St. Woodinville
B&G Friday Harbor Liquor


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