Most of us don’t get to choose our family members. But in the case of the Family Jones Spirit House, a new passion project from the blended ‘family’ of Justin Cucci (of Edible Beats), Rob Masters (formerly of Rob’s Mountain Gin and Spring 44), and local entrepreneurs Paul Tamburello, Denielle Nadeau, and Jack Pottle, that’s exactly what’s taken place.
About three years ago, Tamburello approached Masters about opening a distillery together. As the endeavor progressed, they brought in Cucci, Nadeau, and Pottle, and eventually bar manager Nick Touch and chef Tim Dotson. And on November 11, the talented group will open the doors to their experimental, hyper-local, and hospitality-driven distillery and tasting room.
Located in LoHi next door to Root Down, the Family Jones is primed to do much more than make and sell spirits (although all of its booze will eventually be served at Edible Beats’ restaurants, from Linger to El Five). Complemented by a larger production facility in Loveland, the Denver outpost offers a 50-seat tasting room with a full bar program, a food menu focused on small plates, and a 150-gallon German CARL still that “is the perfect size for an R&D facility,” Masters says. “The distillery sits on the mezzanine above the tasting room, and can make anything a good bartender needs for a world-class bar.”
For starters, that means the Family Jones label vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, and rye, across two tiers. The well brand includes vodka and gin made from purchased neutral spirit, processed by Masters with Colorado water. The higher-end line features grain-to-bottle spirits built on Colorado crops, including barley from Root Shoot Malting in Loveland and corn, rye, and wheat from Whiskey Sisters Supply, a brokerage firm on the eastern plains.
The vodka will be primarily wheat-based, with some corn and malted barley thrown in for flavor; Masters is aiming for a round, soft spirit. He’s even more excited about the high-end gin, dubbed Juniper Jones, for which he’s still working out a formula (it should be available in the next six months or so). “Juniper Jones is going to be special,” Masters says.
The rum is pot-stilled and molasses-based, and drinks like it’s been aged (even though it hasn’t… yet. Masters plans to age some in bourbon barrels once the bourbon goes into the bottle). It makes a delightful daiquiri, too.
And finally, the bourbon and rye. How is the Family Jones opening with aged brown spirits, you might wonder? Masters has that covered: He’s been barreling bourbon and rye as fast as he can in Loveland since February, but it’ll be two years before those spirits are ready to drink. So, as he patiently waits, the Family Jones will offer Stop Gap Jones brands of both, made by other distilleries—an undisclosed outfit in Tenneesee made the rye, and Masters’ friend, Ryan Lang of Columbus, Ohio’s, Middle West Spirits, provided the bourbon.
But wait, there’s more! Masters intends to keep the Loveland facility cranking out the Family Jones lines, while the Denver still, which is smaller and more versatile, will produce small batches of whatever suits his fancy. Touch will be able to create his own custom bar stock, too, using the hundreds of botanicals Masters has brought in to experiment with. So far, he’s developed extraordinary versions of crème de violet, crème de cacao, triple sec, amaretto (using Colorado pine and rosemary), and a take on dry vermouth.
Masters will make one-off spirits and liqueurs in collaboration with local chefs and mixologists, too. Essentially, the Family Jones is a booze laboratory, primed to deliver custom quaffs to their tasting room as well as outside industry partners.
The Spirit House, aka the lower level tasting room, is a gorgeous space designed and built by local firm tres birds workshop (who also worked on the rehab of Union Station). There’s a sunken bar with plush, purple-topped stools; vibrant blue banquettes; juniper hanging from vertical planters along the concrete block walls; and most impressive of all, clear views of the copper still on the mezzanine, which sparkles from the skylights that surround it.
Cucci has brought his innovative ideas about hospitality, food, and service to the mix, creating a mash-up kitchen/bar area where the lines between front- and back-of-house are purposefully blurred. Chef Dotson delivers savory bites, including stunning cheese and meat plates; addictive three-cheese fondue served in adorable baby pumpkins, with roasted mushrooms, squash, beets, apple, and bourbon-buttered croutons for dipping; and sea bream crudo topped with Chile Crunch and spent malted barley. Pairing Dotson’s delectable bites with Touch’s ever-evolving bar program based on Masters’ booze and Cucci’s hospitality is a formula sure to make the Family Jones Spirit House a place worth returning to again and again.
Beginning November 11, the Family Jones Spirit House is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday–Thursday; 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday; 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday; and 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
3245 Osage St.