Doundrins Distilling delivers on big flavor in new cocktail garden
Cottage Grove distillery creates innovative spirits and cocktails.
In the nearly one year since its soft opening in August 2019, Doundrins Distilling has launched more than nine different spirits, built a cocktail garden, created a plethora of unique cocktail combinations, expanded to distribute to more than 70 locations and sold more than 140,000 gallons of hand sanitizer in response to COVID-19.
To say they’ve had an eventful first year since opening the taproom in Cottage Grove is an understatement, especially when you throw a global pandemic into the mix.
Ryan Lovejoy, Nick Abramovich and Abby Abramovich started Doundrins in 2018 to create craft spirits. Both Nick and Abby Abramovich are chemical engineers by trade while Lovejoy had a career in marketing and business management.
Nick Abramovich says he used to do a lot of homebrewing, but distilling was the next evolution of that. The group wanted to make innovative spirits with keeping local ingredients in mind.
“We try to do things that are more akin to a craft brewery than traditional craft distilleries,” Abramovich says. “A lot of craft distilleries will focus heavily on one product and we kind of just want to shift, do something more seasonal, kind of listen to what people want.”
Doundrins, an old English word meaning “afternoon drinking,” started with its signature immature brandy and since opening the taproom has created honey liqueur using honey from Gentle Breeze Honey, green tea vodka, cherry rum and coffee liqueur, among others.
The team behind Doundrins built out the entire production area and taproom themselves. All the products, apart from the first batch of brandy, have been produced out of its space.
At the beginning of the year, the team launched a Kickstarter campaign in anticipation of opening an outdoor cocktail garden with a stage. Back in February before the pandemic began, Abramovich said to Madison Magazine he hoped the space would be one where the community could gather.
“We want it to be a space where the community can come and get together and kind of have a place to gather, more akin to your traditional beer garden,” Abramovich said. “It’s more of a come here and taste some of our stuff, but just kind of hang with family and friends.”
In mid-March, when Safer at Home began, Doundrins had to close its doors. During this time they decided to create a batch of about 300 bottles of hand sanitizer. Ultimately the team got a huge positive reaction about the hand sanitizer and decided to ramp up production.
In a post, they said they decided to use the funds originally saved for the cocktail garden to make hand sanitizer that complied with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the Food and Drug Administration. At one point, they were making 21,000 gallons of hand sanitizer a week. They sold more than 60,000 individual bottles of hand sanitizer, made more than 140,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and distributed it to 16 states.
Starting in June, Doundrins started to work on the cocktail garden. After building a fence, constructing a stage, planting flowers, laying down grass, gravel and wood chips, installing a new door and more, the cocktail garden launched with its grand opening on Aug. 1.
The cocktail garden allows for social distancing with a lot of space while still allowing you to try the various spirits and specialty cocktails. The cocktails consistently change, but one thing is guaranteed, you’re likely going to find new inspiration for cocktails to make at home and you can find many of the recipes on Doundrins’ website. We recommend giving the Doundrins Drule using Green Tea Vodka, Honey Liqueur, ginger beer and lime a try if you see it on the menu. The Doundrins Old-Fashioned using its immature brandy will also satisfy you regardless of if you want it sweet or sour.
“We want people to come here, taste the cocktails, have drinks and everything like that, but the atmosphere and out there drives brand aware,” Abramovich says. “When people taste stuff here, they have a reason to come here and see or taste what we’re doing.”
The cocktail garden is open Thursday-Sunday. They will also host yoga in the cocktail garden on Aug. 20 and plan to host food carts and live music on Aug. 21.