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The spirited life

Rick Coates - January 18th, 2010
The Spirited Life
Good times flow at speakeasy cocktail bash this Saturday
By Rick Coates
Party like it’s 1929, well minus Prohibition, there are some things going
on lately that are remarkably similar to the start of the Great
Depression.  Those in the know say this is the worse economic conditions
our country has experienced since the 1930s. But not every business in
Michigan is failing; in fact several are doing quite well, such as New
Holland Brewery and Artisan Spirits.
The Holland, Michigan company is taking their show on the road and coming
to Traverse City this Saturday, January 23 for their Spirited Life Tour
with a special Speakeasy Night to promote the release of their new micro
distilled artisan Dutchess Vodka.  
The tasting event takes place at the Loading Dock and will begin with an
industry tasting at 7 p.m., with doors open to the public at 9 p.m. when
DJ Psycho will spin Prohibition-era jazz infusions. Partygoers are asked
to “don” their best Prohibition cocktail attire and come ready to groove
and enjoy classic drinks and microbrews.

“There is a rebirth of the classic cocktail in this country and we are
excited to be a part of it,” said Rich Blair Spirited Advisor with New
Holland Artisan Spirits (NHAS). “Our spirits are unique and interesting,
very different from what American consumers are accustomed to drinking.
The classic cocktail is being reborn with a focus on quality of
ingredients, which positions NHAS to be a major part of this new dawn.”
NHAS is touring the state to introduce their products and chose Traverse
City to thank Northern Michigan for its past support.
“This event is as much of a thank you as it is an introduction to our
products. Northern Michigan has been a strong market for our beers over
the years and our spirits line that we launched a year ago,” said Blair.
“We will offer six beers on tap, including a couple that we only sell on
tap at our brewery in Holland, and we will have our Kinickerbocker Gin and
Michigan Amber Rum as well. This event is our official Northern Michigan
launch of our new Dutchess Vodka that was just released.”
Since New Holland is a small operation, Blair says they not only have
to be creative in the making of their products but in how they market
them as well.
“We don’t have the financial resources to launch a traditional marketing
campaign so by creating hip and cool events, this is the best way to get
our products in the hands of consumers in a fun and affordable way,” said

New Holland is seeing a tremendous growth in sales. According to Blair,
sales of their spirits line increased 80 percent in December over
“The buy local, live local movement in Michigan is certainly helping,”
said Blair. “There are now nine micro-distillers in the state doing a lot
of unique things and we are pleased to be a part of this growing industry.
What we find is once a consumer gets a chance to taste our products they
find that they are far superior to what they are use to. It is because we
are using excellent ingredients such as organic wheat in our new Dutchess
As for the ’20s theme, it seems a little unusual since alcohol was banned
in the United States at the time.
“Yes, but several of the classic cocktails were developed during or just
before Prohibition, so we felt the fashion and the music from that era
would create the perfect setting for enjoying our products,” said Blair.
“We are always diligently working on several “test batches” of spirits and
are proud to be a part of a modern exploration in the art of distilling.
Artisan spirits is in the early stages of a renaissance similar to the one
experienced by craft beer in the 1990s. We are proud to be a leader in
this much needed reawakening.”

When you say you are working on several test batches give an example.
“We currently offer Dutchess Classic Vodka, Knickerbocker Gin, Huron White
Rum, Michigan Amber Rum, Superior Single Barrel Rum and Zeppelin Bend
Straight Malt Whiskey. In February we are releasing Dutchess Citrus Vodka
and Hatter Royale (a dry-hopped liqueur),” said Blair. “I can’t go into
too many details but one ‘test batch’ is horseradish vodka we hope to
release this year. It makes a mean Bloody Mary.”
But, for January 23, the focus will be on their Dutchess Vodka (See
Bottoms Up) Knickerocker Gin, Michigan Amber Rum and their tasty

Speakeasy Night at the Loading Dock on Saturday January 23 kicks off with
an “industry” party for bartenders, retailers, restaurant managers and
chefs to learn about New Holland products. Doors will open at 9 p.m. for
the general public, there is no cover charge and DJ Psycho will be
spinning the Prohibition jazz beats all night long. There will be cool
prizes for the best dressed in Prohibition era attire. For details check
out or call the Loading Dock at 231-941-4422.

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