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DIY Drink Experiences

Travel

Written by
Haley Shapley

 

You’ve likely spent years enjoying others’ spirits, beer, and wine—now it’s time to make your own with these do-it-yourself beverage experiences. Then pack up your creations and bring them home to wow your friends at your next dinner party.

 

GET INTO THE SPIRIT OF SPIRITS MAKING IN GIG HARBOR

Known for tasty spirits like Brown Sugar Bourbon, Blood Orange Vodka, and Elk Rider Gin, Heritage Distilling Co. doesn’t stop at just delectable drinks. The craft distillery based in Gig Harbor also features innovative programs like the Cask Club—in which you get your own 10-liter cask to age vodka, gin or whiskey to your preferred flavor profile before it’s bottled—and the My Batch program, the only of its kind in the country. 
As part of My Batch, head into their beautiful flagship location for the chance to apprentice under a head distiller for a few hours. You’ll learn about the distilling process from start to finish, getting up close and personal with the stills (each with its own name meaningful to the owners). While your concoction is cooking, tour the facility, then come back in time to hand-bottle your bourbon and rye whiskey before adding a personalized label. The experience also includes samples served with food—the tough part is deciding just what to taste among the many flavorful choices. 

Have Something Else to Drink
Grab a cup of coffee with a view of the water at Java & Clay Cafe in idyllic downtown Gig Harbor. In addition to coffee from Seattle roaster Caffè Umbria, the shop serves tea, smoothies, beer and wine. While you’re there, paint a ceramic pottery piece as a memento of your visit.

 

 

BREW AND BOTTLE YOUR OWN BEER IN VIRGINIA

What started as a home brew supply store evolved into a craft brewery and tasting room at Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. The business never forgot its roots, though, so in addition to offering beers on tap, the Staunton, Virginia–based brewery also has everything home brewers need to whip up their own creations.

Come on in and experiment with a variety of recipes—Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. will help you make everything from cream ales and oatmeal stouts to mild porters and imperial IPAs. Whether you’re a beginner hoping to follow a kit or an adventurous home brewer looking to tweak a recipe of your own, SVBC has the tools you need, including dry extracts, wet extracts, grains (they’ll grind them if you prefer), yeast, bottles, carboys, kegging equipment, and more. If you need a little inspiration, take a seat in the taproom, where you can sample from a dozen rotating varieties of brews in a friendly, old-world atmosphere. You’re bound to come up with something drinkable, but if not, you can always try again. 

Have Something Else to Drink
Sit down at Zynodoa Restaurant in Staunton and have a glass of wine—you’ll find everything from a local Riesling to a California Chardonnay to a Malbec from Argentina. The craft cocktail list is worth perusing, too.

 

 

HAVE A VINE TIME MAKING WINE IN NAPA VALLEY

Napa Valley knows wine, and while you benefit from the knowledge in the region when it comes to drinking the fruits of their labor, it’s also a great place to develop a little vino expertise of your own. Dive right in at Judd’s Hill, a boutique winery that’s been producing in the region since the 1970s. In 1992, they began offering the MicroCrush program, which allows everyone from grape growers to business owners to regular wine enthusiasts an opportunity to try their hand at blending something supremely sippable, with control over the process from start to finish. If you don’t happen to have a vineyard of your own, no problem—Judd’s Hill will source the grapes through their connections, finding you something that matches the flavor profile you’re after (you’ll need a half ton to make a barrel). 
Before the grapes age, sit down with the winemakers to determine what you hope the finished product will taste like, then come back for a blending session when it’s close to bottling time. You can work with a graphic designer to make a label or choose a house design. If you don’t quite have the patience to go from grape to glass, there are also finished wine barrels in several varietals ready for custom blending and bottling.

Have Something Else to Drink
After all that fancy sipping, sometimes you just want the taste of comfort. For this, roadside diner Gott’s has got your back, with memorable milkshakes hand-spun from organic Three Twins ice cream. Madagascar vanilla is the classic choice, but you can also try chocolate, coffee, mint and more. 

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