What is a broke college kid supposed to do when he wants good vodka but can afford only cheap spirits? In Adam Quirk’s case, he infused his own.
“I would buy cheap vodka and filter it through a Brita pitcher, then infuse it with fresh fruit, spices, things like that,” says the Evansville native who has a passion for distilling spirits.
After moving back to Indiana from New York City in 2010, Quirk met Jeff Wuslich and the two would plan and co-found Cardinal Spirits, a distillery located in downtown Bloomington, Indiana. Since its opening in February 2015, the business has continued to significantly grow each year.
For Quirk and his crew, inspiration for home-brewed spirits and cocktails comes from the state they call home.
“Distilling is an agricultural act. We take raw ingredients grown here and turn them into other products,” says Quirk. “We take almost all of our inspiration from what is around us.”
Bramble, one of Cardinal’s most popular vodkas, is infused with black raspberries and is a perfect example of the distillery’s Hoosier inspiration.
“If you’ve grown up in Indiana or walking any kind of trails or roadsides, you see black raspberries growing wild everywhere,” explains Quirk.
Currently, Cardinal is available in six other states around the country and can be ordered online at mashandgrape.com. There are 30 restaurants and stores in and around Evansville that offer Cardinal Spirits as well — a complete list is available on the company’s website.
If you’re looking for a cocktail to try, Quirk suggests some Terra Gin for a refreshing gimlet or the Lake House Spiced Rum for a perfect Old Fashioned, two of his favorite drinks.
Terra Sage Gimlet
One of Adam Quirk’s favorite cocktails is a gimlet made with Cardinal Spirits’ Terra Gin. “They’re easy to make, easy to sip, and incredibly refreshing. Adding sage is one of our favorite variations when using a botanical-style gin,” says Quirk.
• 2 ounces Cardinal Spirits Terra Botanical Gin
• 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
• 3/4 ounce simple syrup
• 3 to 4 sage leaves, plus another sprig for garnish
Add the gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and sage leaves to a shaker, then add ice. Shake well, then double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a sprig of sage.
For more information on Cardinal Spirits, call 812-202-6789 or visit cardinalspirits.com.