Traverse City Record-Eagle


October 17, 2013

New Corktown distillery resurrects a rich history

DETROIT (AP) — Peter Bailey and Dave Landrum are raising a glass and resurrecting an industry.

The duo, along with partner Andrew Mohr, quietly opened Two James Spirits in Corktown last month and started selling their locally made bourbon, gin and vodka. The opening of their distillery on Michigan Avenue is thought to be a milestone for the city: For the first time since Prohibition, liquor is being produced — legally — within Detroit’s borders, according to The Detroit News.

“Detroit seemed like the perfect fit with all the new businesses and the entrepreneurship spirit,” said Mohr, who has been friends with Landrum since his days in the restaurant business. “It’s been exciting to be part of history.”

The distillery, with a tasting room that’s open Thursdays through Sundays, not only marks the rebirth of spirits-making in Detroit, but it’s also another sign of the industry’s continued growth in the Great Lakes State.

“It says there’s opportunity there ... distilling’s not just Kentucky and Tennessee anymore,” said Frank Coleman, senior vice president for public affairs at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “It’s a very positive development.”

Two James is named after Landrum’s and Bailey’s fathers — both named James. The duo met at the University of Michigan before Landrum debuted his culinary skills at Cafe Felix in Ann Arbor, while Bailey studied science.

The tasting room sits in a former taxi cab garage and features a round concrete bar, cool light hangings and cut-out whiskey barrels on a far wall that offer glimpses into the back room where the liquor is made.

It’s one of a couple of dozen small distilleries in Michigan, a number that has jumped from just four in 2008. They craft a wide variety of liquor: aged whiskeys, vodkas and brandies. The American Distilling Institute says Michigan ranks fourth in the country in the number of small distilleries, behind California, Oregon and Washington state.

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