Tenth Ward Distilling Company’s tasting room expanded into a cocktail lab and spirits shop on July 1. The distillery owner, Monica Pearce, recently sat down with The News-Post to talk more about the Cocktail Lab and what customers can experience there.
What is the cocktail lab?
We really wanted to use this place to be educational for our consumers. The issue with passing the law that would allow distilleries to start doing mixed drinks and cocktails was that the state of Maryland, the senators and the legislators didn’t want distilleries to become bars. But I wanted this to be a place that showcases our spirits and a place where consumers can learn how to safely and properly mix and drink craft spirits. I also wanted for our staff to be able to do R&D (research and development) and for it to be a community place for educational workshops.
Do you teach customers how to make cocktails?
We sometimes will host educational workshops in the back. When we’re making a drink, we like to talk through it and explain it. We also offer the recipes to our customers so that they can go ahead and mix it at home.
What are some of the signature cocktails on the menu?
The jalapeño margarita is our very famous seasonal cocktail that’s on draft. It’s like keg cocktails, we premix cocktails in a keg. Our corn whiskey in the jalapeño margarita is smoked so it’s like a smoky, spicy type of margarita and then we do a rim with a smoked salt and raw sugar mix. We are known for naming some things after traditional names, so we have one named Key City for the Frederick Keys and Francis Scott Key and Lady Fritchie after Barbara Fritchie.
Describe the atmosphere of the venue.
We wanted it to be a very warm, inviting and cozy vibe in here. Our staff are all super friendly, they’re open to all types of people coming in here, hanging out with them, chatting and having a good conversation. I wanted to create a loungey feel in the back because of the lights and some of the darker tones. We’re still working on finishing a mural on the wall but we’re trying to incorporate ways to constantly be interacting with our brand and with the spirits and cocktails. When you walk in, you’ve got the interactive murals you can take pictures with, like our absinthe ferry with our logo. There is always something to enjoy while you’re here, not just taste-wise, but aesthetically as well.
You mentioned a law that passed that allows distilleries to now serve mixed drinks. Explain more of that.
So before, legally, distilleries could only serve up to 2 ounces per person per visit in the form of a straight spirit or cocktail sample. Nobody was doing cocktail samples because it wasn’t worth the overhead. That law finally changed in March and then went into effect on July 1, allowing us to serve more than 2 ounces. That’s fair because we wanted to showcase our spirits because not everybody drinks straight spirits. So being able to offer it in mixed format is the best way to highlight our product.
How does your establishment differ than others in the area?
The cool thing is that we make the spirits in-house. Not only are they the highest quality, locally developed and woman-owned, you’re supporting a local business when you consume our spirits. We also legally can’t serve any type of alcohol that we don’t produce ourselves so we have to create our own vermouth and our own triple sec, which makes it an even cooler and well-rounded end product.
What are you most excited about with this new venture?
To continue to grow into the Frederick community and see people learn more about the craft spirit industry and wanting to get more familiar with it and talk about it.