As the 2010s are coming to an end, we can reflect on all of the incredible brewers, winemakers, cidermakers and distillers whom have honed their craft over the past decade. And throughout the past 10 years, we’ve also seen a huge surge of producers who are focused on handcrafted, local ingredients and truly offering farm-to-table beverages. Established in 2010, Washington’s Sidetrack Distillery is one of those distilleries, focusing on craft distilling and utilizing, quite literally, the fruits of their labor.
According to David Thompson, who owns the distillery with his aunt and uncle, Larry and Linda Person, the farm came first, years before the distillery. “We’re a family operation on a six-acre farm in the Kent Valley,” he says. “My aunt and uncle had been farming here for 25 years as a hobby, growing items that they would pickle and can on the farm.”
The Persons also got into the U-Pick farm business, offering the opportunity for people to head to the farm to pick raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, but ultimately decided it wasn’t the right fit for them.
“My uncle had always been interested in winemaking, it was always a goal for him to open a winery,” Thompson says. “So with the craft distillery movement taking place at the time, and with the farm, they decided to start something new.”
The Persons approached their nephew to join them in their new venture just after his college graduation in 2009, and the trio has continued to flourish from there.
“We wanted to do something different and keep everything fruit based,” Thompson adds. “Our main focus is on liqueurs, with some brandies.”
And the majority of what is used within those liqueurs is grown on the farm. Thompson says they do all of their own harvesting, distilling and bottling, and their liqueurs are made from a base spirit such as an apple or pear brandy — the perfect example of farm to bottle.
What better way to celebrate all that the craft beverage movement has accomplished in the last 10 years than by toasting with a classic cocktail to ring in the new year, but with a Northwest flair. Thompson combines Sidetrack’s aromatic Lemon Verbena liqueur with gin, simple syrup and a Champagne float for a fresh take on the French 75. Make this at home and toast to the kickoff of 2020.
Sidetrack French 75
Makes 1 cocktail
3/4 ounces gin
3/4 ounces Sidetrack Distillery Lemon Verbena Liqueur
1/4 ounces simple syrup
3-4 ounces sparkling wine
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin with ice and give it a good shake. Strain into a Champagne flute (or a Nick and Nora glass), top with a local sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon peel.