A Watershed Event

At the Webner House, we’re all about supporting local businesses.  Two Columbus businesses that we enthusiastically endorse — especially after we’ve enjoyed their products — are two local distilleries, Watershed Distillery and Middle West Spirits.

IMG_3671Watershed Vodka is my vodka brand of choice.  Speaking on the basis of my chilly vodka-sampling visit to the Belvedere Ice Room a few years ago, I can attest that Watershed produces very high-quality, corn-based vodka that is every bit as good — and in some cases better — than the vodkas we tried.  It also fits well with the low-carb diet approach I’ve been taking the last few months.  And the Watershed event is that this year the distillery is producing its first seasonal concoction, a black walnut liqueur, made from Ohio walnuts, called Nocino.

Kish and Richard and Russell are the occasional whiskey samplers in our family, and they’ve enjoyed making Manhattans and Old Fashioneds with OYO whiskey, one of the trade names used by Middle West Spirits.  Made from 100 percent Ohio soft red winter wheat, OYO Whiskey has won a number of distilling awards, as well as a lot of fans.

Watershed’s distillery is just west of downtown in the Grandview area, and Middle West’s distillery is in the Short North.  Both are the kinds of successful local businesses that employ our neighbors, pay local taxes, care about the quality of their products, and help to keep the Columbus economy ticking — which is why we support them.

The next time you’re out on the town and in the mood for a mixed drink, give one of their products a try.  You won’t regret it.

Vodka Shots In The Belvedere Ice Room

Last night we had an excellent meal at the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler. Fine company, fine food — and also the unique opportunity to don winter parkas and drink chilled vodka shots in a kind of man-made ice cave.

The Bistro features a supercooled Belvedere Ice Room that is maintained at a constant 12 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit.  Inside, under ghostly blue light that somehow accentuates the cold, various vodkas are stored in little cubbyholes carved into walls of ice, and trays of shot glasses rest on a table made of ice.  The idea is that vodka should be kept at freezing temperatures, and if you drink fine vodka under such conditions you avoid “the burn” of the alcohol at the back of your throat and therefore can better appreciate the quality of the liquor.

I’m not a vodka drinker, but how can you turn down the once-in-a-lifetime chance to put on a parka, enter a frigid, ice-sheathed room, and taste vodka selected for you by an expert host wearing a mad bomber hat?  Our hardy band sampled vodkas that were potato-based, wheat-based, and even corn-based, from Russia, Poland, and Canada.  Our favorite (and the favorite of the host) was the last of the four vodkas, a Polish blend called Uluvka. The host said it tasted like pure water, and it did.  (Of course, this raises the question of why you would want to drink liquor that tastes like water, but that is a question we’ll have to leave for another day.)

Incidentally, the combination of the meat locker temperatures, blue light, ice-lined walls, freezing cold hooch, and fur-lined winter coat did seem to minimize the burn of the alcohol.  That may explain why vodka is the national drink of Russia.