Distillery and coffee bar open in Seaside

Seaside shoppers have a new outlet to order coffee or artisan alcohol.

An artisan distillery tasting room and coffee bar — It’s 5 — is opening in the Factory Outlet Mall.

“They will be able to come in and grab an espresso or go to the bar,” said owner Colin Levi as he observed the interior remodel with his wife and co-owner, Carol. The espresso bar will be open mall hours serve those seeking a caffeinated buzz.

“People typically don’t start drinking until later in the day, so now we have two of the most favorite drinks — coffee and alcohol,” Carol said.

The tasting room will feature a rotating array of seasonal, artisan alcohols — including fruit brandies, gin, moonshine, ouzo, aqua vitae and a couple of whiskey varieties — each handmade using locally grown fruit and grain.

“We use quite a bit of caraway in our aqua vitae,” Colin said. They also produce an apricot and black currant liqueur, a lower-proof alternative to traditional liquor.

“As seasonal fruit becomes available, we make liqueur,” Colin said. “We do a full line of fruit brandies. It’s basically an 80-proof product distilled from fruit.” Grappa, a grape-based brandy, was a natural addition to their lineup.

“We’re in a region where there’s a lot of winemakers,” Colin explained. “After they’re done making the wine, they pour the liquid off and what’s left is the stems and seeds. They put it in a press and press the rest of the wine out and that wine is then put into a barrel. What’s left is a massive container of dried stems, seeds and skins. We take that and distill it. The alcohol that comes off is grappa. It tastes like grape but it has earthy tannins to it.

Warehouse beginnings

The distillery was born roughly a decade ago in a refurbished warehouse in Cashmere, a town of 3,000 about two hours east of Seattle. The first alcohol they produced was “pisco,” a high-proof brandy made from distilling fermented grape juice.

“It’s usually found in Chile and Peru,” Colin said. “We called it Chilean-style brandy and that’s what we started with. It was basically wine we had collected from all over the state and distilled in oak barrels for about two months.”

The moonshine and fruit brandies soon followed. The gin, produced for the past seven years, has become a best seller. The alcohol is traditionally made in 60 to 100-gallon batches.

“We only produce when we need more product to sell,” Colin said. “We don’t do a lot of distribution, most of it is out of our tasting rooms.”

The latest creation, finalized in the past few months, will debut in the Seaside tasting room.

“The aqua vitae has not been released yet,” Colin said.

Seaside will be the first place it gets released.

Over the past two years they looked to expand their business into Oregon because of favorable regulations regarding off-site tasting rooms.

“Here you can have five off-site tasting rooms plus one in the actual facility, but over there (in Washington) you can’t have any off site, so we decided to move into Seaside,” Colin said. The tasting room and coffee bar is another step into the unknown.

“We don’t know what to expect — this is completely unknown,” Colin said.

“I don’t know of a tasting room and espresso bar in a mall like this anywhere. It’s a big experiment.” For more information, visit www.its5distillery.com.

Spirit(s) of the holiday season

It’s 5 Cafe and Artisanal Distillery has opened in the Outlet Mall. An official grand opening will be celebrated Friday, Dec. 21.

The espresso bar will be open mall hours to serve those seeking a caffeinated buzz.

The distillery was born roughly a decade ago in a refurbished warehouse in Cashmere, Washington, a town of 3,000 about two hours east of Seattle.

The tasting room features a rotating array of seasonal, artisan alcohols — including fruit brandies, gin, moonshine, ouzo, aqua vitae and a couple of whiskey varieties — each handmade using locally grown fruit and grain; 1111 N. Roosevelt Dr., 503-739-7606.

10 Craft Distillers That Are Raising US Spirits

It's 5 Five is at the top of the list 10 of the most imaginative craft distillers in the U.S.,
according to liquor and travel experts:

It’s 5 Five: This artisan distillery makes moonshine, grappa, apple brandy and rhubarb liqueur in a renovated warehouse in the small town of Cashmere in North Central Washington. The distillery makes all of its products by hand with fruits and grains grown in Washington state. “Their true claim to fame is a gin like no other. Normally the only botanical in gin is juniper berries, but at It’s Five a host of botanicals including hibiscus, coriander, citrus peel, cardamom, and star anise are incorporated to make a full flavored gin you’ll not find anywhere else,” says Washington State travel expert, Heather Larson, who runs the site, Discover Washington State.

According to the American Distilling Institute, craft distilleries are growing at a very fast pace. U.S.-based craft distillers rose from 24 in 2000 to 52 in 2005 and now stand -- or still -- at 234, as of the end of 2011.

Click here to see full article 10 Craft Distillers That Are Raising US Spirits

It's Five in the New York Times!

It's Five Distillery was mentioned in a recent article in the New York Times entitled A Taste of Prohibition as Liquor Stores Go Private, a reporting on the transition from state-only to private liquor sales in Washington State.

"Mr. Levi said he was expecting greater exposure in the private market, especially in light of the so-called locavore movement — eating and drinking products produced close to home — which is very popular in the Pacific Northwest."

"The end of state liquor distribution will also mean that Mr. Levi’s brandy can travel the four blocks or so across Cashmere, directly to Ms. Hoefner’s place. Under the state system, every bottle was shipped to a warehouse in Seattle before going back out to stores or bars, even if the final destination was just down the street."

Read Full Article

It's Five Distillery Orders an Aromat IV Copper Pot Still

January 31, 2011 by Rebecca in Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce Member News

In May of 2010 Colin Levi, owner of Cashmere’s only distillery, It’s Five, ordered an Aromat IV copper pot still from Müller Brennereianlagen GmbH.

The decision to purchase this particular still was driven by the fact that there is an abundance of fruit within the State that when utilized properly will make some fantastic and unique distillates. This particular still was chosen because it is specifically designed to retain the aromas and flavors of the product being distilled. The pot, hat, and deflegmator are all made of copper that is hand-hammered. The cooling condenser and waterbath is all stainless steel.

It took 6 months to build and 2 months to be delivered. The still was fired up for the first time on Saturday January 15, 2011. The results were excellent. 60 gallons of pear mash was pumped into the still and 2 hours later 13 gallons of pear brandy was aging in a stainless steel tank. The still is equipped with a clean-in-place system which utilizes boiling water to clean the entire inside of the still. It takes less than 30 seconds for 60 gallons of spent mash to be evacuated from the inside of the pot. The evacuation takes place via a large pump mounted on the still. This process would have taken 9 hours with the original still that was installed at the distillery’s opening in December 2009.

Come and take look at the new still and sample our Chilean style Brandy, Block & Tackle Moonshine and Block & Tackle Sunshine. Both the Block & Tackle products are corn whiskey made with 100% Quincy corn. We will be open at 1:00 pm on Saturday and tasting as always is free.