CH Distillery vodka (CH Distillery )
When Tremaine Atkinson and his partners open CH Distillery in the West Loop this summer, he knows some skeptics will turn up their noses at a vodka-focused distillery. While bourbon and gin have recently gained popularity, bartenders anecdotally acknowledge a bit of a vodka backlash.
"I think they're missing out," Atkinson said of consumers who categorically ignore vodka. "I have nothing against the other spirits, but what’s cool about vodka is that it gives you a way to really let very fresh ingredients shine."
Some distilleries buy pre-made neutral spirits to produce their vodkas, but Tremaine stressed that CH's vodka is distilled from scratch using raw wheat harvested 60 miles from Chicago. Why the obsession with vodka? Even as a homebrewer of beer, Tremaine said he has long been impressed by vodka's crispness.
"I really love the simplicity of vodka. A cold glass of good vodka is one of the beautiful, simple, pure experiences in the food and beverage world," he said.
While vodka will be CH Distillery's primary product, Tremaine said the team also plans to produce gin, rum and lightly aged whiskey at a maximum capacity of about 10,000 cases per year.
It won't just be available wholesale, though; the distillery at 564 W. Randolph St. also will include a 50-seat cocktail bar. The bar's menu will be developed by consultant Kyle Davidson and will be overseen by food and beverage director Krissy Schutte. And yes, there will be a food menu from consulting chef Jesse Katzman, who owns the coming-soon West Loop Salumi Shop, also located on Randolph Street.
"I’d describe [the bar] with a couple of words like classy but comfortable. It’s modern industrial but not cold," Tremaine said. "There are big glass windows behind which you see the distilling equipment."
Construction is currently underway, with distilling equipment already delivered. CH Distillery hopes to open the second week of July.
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