Meet NYC's First All-American Spirits Shop
Since December 2012, CEO Craig Kanarick and his team at MOUTH.com have built a sizeable following for their online shop, which makes small, artisanal craft foods -- like pickles, jerky, and cookies -- available to internet-savvy shoppers across the country. "We have a two-pronged mission: to satisfy the hunger of people who want indie food, and to help indie food makers to thrive and grow," says Kanarick. "I was going to Smorgasburg every weekend and seeing these things, and it was frustrating not to be able to get those things online. I wanted to make sure these things continue to exist so I can keep buying them. I wanted to help those people grow."
Photos courtesy of MOUTH.com
But after a year and a half of interacting only virtually with buyers, the MOUTH.com team was ready for a little face-time with shoppers. A week ago, they opened the MOUTH Indie Spirits + Wine Gallery (192 Water Street, Brooklyn), where they're featuring an all-American line-up of small-batch, craft spirits.
"We wanted a place where we could interact with customers after two years of interacting behind the veil of the internet," says Kanarick. "We love our neighborhood in Dumbo, and we signed a lease for a large warehouse and distribution center. We wanted to be part of a really vibrant street life here, and to interact with our neighbors."
The gallery part of the name, says the CEO, is meant to call attention to feel of the store. "We gave it that name to say explicitly that it's not like most liquor stores," says Kanarick. "We're not trying to be Brooklyn-pretentious at all, and I'm sure there's some eye rolling when you hear gallery. But it's a small store that focuses on spirits, and it's gallery-like in that its mostly white on the inside, with very few bottles of each product on display. It has a nice open feel, but it's a liquor store.
And via that gallery, MOUTH will expand its offerings into an industry that shares many of the characteristics of the groups of makers the site is supporting. "We felt that there was this credible movement going on in craft spirits as there was in food," says Kanarick. "There's a loosening of distillery laws across the country tied with a cultural awareness of small, independent production of food. Customers are as passionate about whiskey as they are about the pickles."
Whiskey fiends (and gin hounds and vodka drinkers) will be able to find many types here, some that hail from the northeast, and others brought in from other parts of the country. Just don't look for Scotch or Irish whiskey, says Kanarick: MOUTH will only carry American-made products. Still, there's incredible variety coming from our own country, and Kanarick cites local distillers like Widow Jane and Cacao Prieto in addition to products from farther afield, like San Francisco's 1512 Rye or Chicago's Letherbee Distillery, which makes a product called Besk, a Swedish wormwood-based liqueur that's locally famous among bartenders in that region. Each of these is available at the shop, in addition to dozens of other finds.
If you're not in the area, you'll still eventually be able to find these products: In the coming months, Kanarick and his team will focus on making these craft spirits available via the website. "We're ecommerce, and our intention is not to grow with lots of physical stores," he says.
The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.
Click through for a look around the shop.