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There’s hardly a food or drink item that restaurants don’t attempt to make in-house these days. So why not distill their own booze too? The team behind Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers has been doing just that with the help of Copper Fox Distilleryin Sperryville, Va. In 2009, Farmers Restaurant Group released its own rye whiskey, and very soon, it will have its own gin, too.
Farmers Beverage Director Jon Arroyo and Copper Fox’s Rick Wasmund spent the past two years working together on a gin specifically for the restaurants’ cocktails. The two met when the original Founding Farmers was still under construction: Wasmund walked in with an “Indiana Jones outfit,” Arroyo says, and asked him if he wanted to try his whiskey. “That instantly created some camaraderie right there,” Arroyo says. “I had a feeling that there was something special about this distiller.”
After collaborating on Founding Farmers Rye, Arroyo and Wasmund moved on to their next product: The Farm Gin. Among the botanicals used in the spirit: juniper, cardamom, anise, coriander, lime peel, orange peel, rosemary, lemon basil, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, ginger, and angelica. Some of the herbs—including rosemary, basil, and mint—are grown on Wasmund’s farm land around the distillery. But Arroyo says what’s unique about The Farm Gin is that it’s single malt (meaning it’s made from a single grain) and that Wasmund malts his own grain. “It’s very bold, pungent,” Arroyo says, particularly on the nose.
But the most important thing, Arroyo says, was creating a spirit that would make for good martinis and gin and tonics. For the latter, he’s creating his own tonic—probably with chipotle or habanero flavors—to pair specifically with the gin. A seasonal gin punch is also in the works.
The Farm Gin will become available at Founding Farmers D.C. location and Farmers Fishers Bakers on October 22. (Diners at the Montgomery County location may have to wait a couple extra weeks.) The gin will not be available by the bottle at the restaurants because they don’t have the proper retail licensing. But if you make your way out to Sperryville, you can pick up a bottle at Copper Fox Distillery, where there are also tours and tastings.
Now that Farmers Restaurant Group has its own whiskey and gin, what’s next? “If there’s something else out there that I would really like to work on in the near future,” Arroyo says, “I would probably tell you that it’s rum.”
Photo courtesy Farmers Restaurant Group