Just before the Holidays, at the end of 2017, I had my first visit to Ethanology!
Located at 127 Ames St. in Elk Rapids, Nick and Geri have created a beautiful space to showcase their love for Family, Community, and Creativity.
I loved their variety of spirits that Geri has created. She is self taught and a distillation Genius! Beyond just a communal space, this couple has a vision for how they see themselves flourishing in the heart of Elk Rapids. Have a read of this fun excerpt from the winter edition of Edible Grande Traverse, written by the talented and lovely Carrie Stone :) And then enjoy the photos I was happy to capture. I can’t wait to go back again! Who wants to go?
“DREAMING TO STAY SMALL
Energetic, passionate and intelligent, Geri and Nick LeFebre have created reality out of a pipe dream—literally and figuratively. Tucked into an industrial chic building at 127 Ames St., they had their distilling system custom-made, pipes and all, to create the kind of operation they envisioned, and to craft spirits with integrity.
“Ethanology was founded, conceived, planned, lamented, funded, built (piece by piece) and every detail manically executed by Geri and myself,” says Nick. “It is only us—and that is exactly the way we want it.”
At the heart of the business is an even richer vision: to create a life worth living in northern Lower Michigan and grow their family here.
“We have the ability to follow our dream of crafting the worlds’ finest spirits, derived from the world’s most beautiful place,” Nick says. “We want to bottle the essence of Northern Michigan.”
Community, family, purposeful creations, life-long learning and sharing success with neighbors—these are the pillars of the LeFebres’ mission.
The anticipated trend for the food industry for 2018 is “social food,” and Ethanology is working that trend already. With a cozy upstairs loft filled with books, comfortable leather chairs, fresh-pressed coffee, small plates, outside of the usual bar hours Ethanology is a gathering place, not just because of their spirits.
“We want this to be a ‘third space’ for the community. That’s a place outside your home or office where you can relax, enjoy a beverage, meet new friends or chat with old ones,” says Nick…
STIRRING SPIRITS INTO THEIR SPIRITS
From the raw tart cherry blossom honey that goes into their special Mel Vocatus to the blue corn grown at Shooks Farm that is so specific that the LeFebres were able to name its local species, no detail is taken lightly. The name of the farm source is on each label, a touch Ethanology uses as an appreciation for the care those farmers take with their yields.
“We really are in this together—our farmers are more than partners, they are essential to our products,” says Nick.
Every spirit is bottled with the ground in mind, he says, starting with the well water available at the distillery, stripped of minerals not conducive to distillation. But this is only one aspect of their products that makes them unique to place.
“It’s like when someone gives you a recipe and you make it but can never make it identical to another person’s,” Geri explains. “The ingredients are a bit different, the process is slightly different, the oven is a little different… all of those variables and details are what we focus on in distilling.”
Antrim County–grown non-GMO corn, wheat, barley and rye, 100 percent in-house milling, roller milling and onsite well water are just a few of the details that go into the final product of spirits. The barrels are new white oak because these will create the unique flavor Geri is striving for in each bottle she distills.
“It’s liquid art, really,” Geri says. But it is also extreme science.
Learning to be a distiller has been a little like learning to fly a plane with a paper manual, Geri says of her self-taught distillation education.
And the danger might be similar: combustability, petro chemicals, physics, all a part of distilling, and all a part of making an explosive.
“I had to learn the safety part first,” she says. That became a passion point for her in the industry.
As the first and only woman head distiller in Michigan, she says she can’t do what she does any other way…”
The “Barry Manilow” Cocktail. So good!
Pick up the Winter EGT to read more and learn how to make this beauty.
And really…let’s go!