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Cocktail Walk offers an inside look at Vermont’s budding craft spirits scene

Cocktail Walk offers an inside look at Vermont’s budding craft spirits scene.

From soils to speakeasies, cocktails are a terrific representation of place, and some of the most evocative cocktails in the world are coming out of Vermont. Cocktail Walk introduces you to the distillers and bartenders who are turning the Green Mountain State into a cocktail destination.

It starts with dirt.

A well-crafted cocktail may be the ultimate expression of terroir—the taste of place. And that taste is shaped first by the soil. Vermont is known as a cheese mecca, but the same soils that underlie the flavor of the state’s best cheeses also grow the grains, fruit, and botanicals that make Vermont’s finest spirits. In the hands of a talented distiller, a bag of rye—and the resulting whiskey—tells the story of the dirt and weather that shaped it. 

An increasing number of Vermont’s nineteen and counting­ craft distillers are embracing the notion of terroir and sourcing locally grown ingredients. Some, like WhistlePig in Shoreham, have even started growing their own (rye). Others, like Caledonia Spirits in Hardwick, are using local wood (white oak) for their aging barrels. Still others, like Vermont Spirits, harvest their own botanicals (juniper for their gin).

Ingredients matter.

A good cocktail must have quality ingredients. Vermont sets itself apart not only with the sheer number of top-quality spirits made in state, but also with the cornucopia of locally  produced herbs, tonics, and bitters—like Urban Moonshine, a medicinal bitters and tonic manufacturer in downtown Burlington.

Thank your bartender.

If a cocktail is born in the soil, it is baptized at the bar. Cocktail Walk’s bartenders are assigned a different Vermont libation for each event. From there, the show is theirs. And they do impress—from Scott Christian’s (Bluebird Tavern) passion for prohibition-era cocktails to Mike Dunn’s (Misery Loves Co) knowledge of the botanicals in Barr Hill Gin, Cocktail Walk’s bartenders consistently craft drinks as dynamic as they are delicious.

Cocktail Walk website:
Tweet: @EatFreshVT’s #CocktailWalk series celebrates #Vermont’s bartenders & #CraftDistillers
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Contact: Chris Howell | | 802.922.7346
Cocktail Walk welcomes press and freelance writers


Chris Howell, founder of Vermont Farm Tours, created Cocktail Walk in 2013 to showcase the array of spirits produced in Vermont as well as the bartending talent in Burlington and Winooski. Cocktail Walk now runs every other week. Each two-hour Cocktail Walk features a Vermont distiller and visits three restaurants for cocktails and food. The distiller is along to talk shop, and the bartenders discuss their creations and share recipes. The pace is relaxed, with time to eat, drink, and catch up with friends.

Thursday evenings in Winooski, Vermont 5:30-7:30pm
visiting Oak45, Mule Bar, and Misery Loves Co
  • 3/12 - featuring Boyden Spirits w/ Vermont Ice Apple Crème & Maple Crème liqueur
  • 4/9 - featuring Groennfell Meadery w/ Valkyrie’s Choice, Fenberry Draft, & Chaos Cyser
  • 5/14 - featuring Dunc’s Mill Rum + Urban Moonshine w/ Elderflower, Maple, & Backwoods Reserve Rum + bitters 
  • 6/11 - featuring Appalachian Gap Distillery + Urban Moonshine w/ Snowfall White Whiskey, Monarch, & Kaffekask + bitters
  • 7/9 - featuring Caledonia Spirits + Urban Moonshine w/ Barr Hill gin, Tom Cat reserve, & Barr Hill whiskey + bitters
  • 8/13 - featuring Vermont Spirits + Urban Moonshine w/ Coppers Gin, White Vodka, & Black Snake Whiskey + bitters
  • 9/10 - featuring WhistlePig + Urban Moonshine w/ WhistlePig whiskey + bitters
  • 10/8 - featuring Appalachian Gap Distillery w/ Snowfall White Whiskey, Kaffekask, & Kaffevän
  • 11/12 - featuring Vermont Spirits w/ Vermont White Vodka, Gold Vodka, & No 14 Bourbon
  • 12/10 - featuring Boyden Spirits w/ Vermont Ice Apple Crème & Maple Crème liqueur & Cassis
Tuesday evenings in Burlington, Vermont 5:30-7:30pm
visiting Bluebird Tavern, Juniper, and Church & Main
  • 3/24 - featuring Silo Distillery + Urban Moonshine w/ Reserve Gin, Lavender Vodka, and Moonshine + bitters
  • 4/28 - featuring Dunc’s Mill Rum w/ Backwoods Reserve, Elderflower, & Maple Rum
  • 5/26 - featuring Appalachian Gap Distillery  w/ Monarch, Kaffevän, & Mosquito Fleet Rum
  • 6/23 - featuring Saxtons River Distillery w/ Sapling Maple Liqueur, Maple Bourbon, & Perc
  • 7/28 - featuring WhistlePig w/ WhistlePig whiskey
  • 8/25  - featuring Caledonia Spirits + Urban Moonshine w/ Barr Hill gin, Barr Hill whiskey, & Barr Hill Vodka + bitters
  • 9/22 - featuring Vermont Distillers w/ Metcalfe’s Maple Cream, Raspberry, & VT Maple Liqueur
  • 10/27 -  - featuring WhistlePig + Urban Moonshine w/ WhistlePig whiskey + bitters
  • 11/24 - featuring Vermont Spirits + Urban Moonshine w/ Vermont White Vodka, Gold Vodka, & No 14 Bourbon
  • 12/15 - featuring Boyden Spirits + Urban Moonshine w/ Vermont Ice Apple Crème, Maple Crème & Cassis + bitters
Silo - March 24 Cocktail Walk
Silo Distillery now sources grain from Grembowicz Farm in North Clarendon, Vermont. Silo uses the Grembowicz’s corn in their Vodka and Gin, and both corn and rye in their Whiskey, Moonshine, Bourbon. All spirits are mashed, distilled, aged, and bottled at their distillery in Windsor, Vermont. 

WhistlePig - July 28, September 10, and October 27 Cocktail Walks
On the Fourth of July, 2015, to coincide with its annual Independence Day celebration, WhistlePig Farms will officially open its distillery in Shoreham, VT. Master Distiller Dave Pickerell will be on hand to personally unveil the custom built column-pot still manufactured by Vendome Copper & Brass Works which will occupy a converted dairy barn on the farm. Where possible, refurbished bulk dairy tanks from the surrounding area have been transformed into the distillery’s fermenters. With bottling, maturation and rye-growing operations already on site, this event marks the completion of WhistlePig’s goal to establish a single estate rye whiskey distillery, the first of its kind in the United States.

Caledonia Spirits - July 9 and August 25 Cocktail Walks
Due to a national barrel shortage, Caledonia Spirits has found themselves short on barrels for aging their rye whiskey, corn whiskey, bourbon, and Tom Cat barrel aged gin. In response, Todd Hardie, Caledonia’s founder,  turned to a local logger and a cooper to harvest Vermont white oak and turn the wood into barrels for the distillery. Add the barrels to the local organic rye and corn used in their whiskey program, and they now have an entirely Vermont-made whiskey.