Two unique and controversial examples of Americana – the underground bars of the Prohibition era and the neighborhood taverns after WWII – have long gone down in history.
But not completely. A similar aura can be felt in a distillery operating in Columbus, which many people may not yet have discovered.
Savage Distilling, Inc. is just around the corner from Donut Central and north of Mutt Tubbs N Stylin ‘Dogs.
The tasting room, distillery, bar and food service are tucked away in a space next to the Columbus Rock Climb at the intersection of 15th Street and Cottage Avenue.
Their closest competing distilleries – Hard Truth and Bear Wallow – are located in Brown County.
After legally forming his business on August 14, 2017, owner and owner Mike Arbuckle first applied for all necessary permits before opening at 1561 Cottage Street on November 5, 2017. It took a little longer before getting both permissions. and equipment to start distilling your own spirits.
Unlike the speakeasies of the 1930s, you won’t find any jazz bands or Charleston dancing flappers here. But Savage Distilling has adrenaline-pumping music that goes well with its wide selection of spirits, including bleached bourbon, white rum, cask aged rum, and rye whiskey.
There are also exotic drinks such as Moonchelada – similar to spicy Mexican beer and the tomato juice drink called Michelada. Or if you’re feeling particularly daring, there’s the Mimosa – a blend of champagne with orange juice with a glass of jalapeno moonshine.
“Everyone loves (the moonshine jalapeno),” said Arbuckle. “Our customers want it in bottles.”
The owner and his partner Adrienne Bowles also worked together to come up with menu items that included Hoosier’s favorite dishes and unusual culinary delights.
“I don’t like to make my own horn, but there have been several people who say we have the best chicken wings in town,” said Arbuckle. Other customer favorites include the grilled brisket cheese, pulled pork sliders, and brisket chili.
Do you want something mom was doing? Try the chicken and meatballs with a side of green beans.
Maybe a simple dish that reminds you of your childhood? Order the toasted peanut butter and “sammich” syrup, as Arbuckle called him as a little boy.
The origins of Savage Distilling, Inc. can be traced back to Arbuckle’s childhood, when his grandfather, Logue Branum of Elizabethtown, allowed his grandson to help him while he made wine.
“I knew he had distilled, although I never had the chance to do it with him,” recalls Arbuckle.
After attending Columbus North High School, Arbuckle was taking classes at Indiana Business College when the United States was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001.
Eventually, the wars that followed the attacks motivated Arbuckle to enlist in the United States Army in 2003. After basic training, Arbuckle spent half of his four-year enlistment as an engineer working in the heat. from Iraq. The other half had the Columbus native stationed in the freezing cold of Fort Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska, he said.
Honored upon his release as a non-commissioned officer in 2007, Arbuckle spent two more years in the Indiana National Guard, joined the Carpenter’s Union, and worked for Indianapolis-based Wilhelm Construction for 14 years.
But when he wasn’t on a construction site, Arbuckle picked up where his grandfather left off. He began to study the craft of distilling spirits, as well as offering unique dishes. When he felt he had come up with enough recipes, Arbuckle reached out to his lawyer for advice on setting up a legal distillery and restaurant.
“Once I opened my business, I did both jobs for as long as possible,” he recalls. “But I have learned that you are always on time when you are the owner.”
Rather than relying on large loans, Arbuckle said he was able to open his business with his own savings.
“I didn’t have any extra money so I was a little nervous,” Arbuckle said. “There were days when I walked in here and wondered ‘what am I getting myself into? “” But other days I look around and see what I have. “
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Savage Distilling’s capacity is very limited at this time. But the small size is most reminiscent of mid-20th century neighborhood taverns. Plus, the low overhead has helped the owner keep his establishment afloat.
Small bars are preferable in Arbuckle as he says they are more comfortable which makes everyone more social.
“You can walk in here on your own one evening, and you’ll get to know who’s at the bar that night,” said the owner. “You don’t spend your time here looking at your phone.”
But there is no argument that Savage Distilling, Inc. is overstepping its space. Despite its small size, it was recently voted # 2 Distillery in a regional poll that includes a number of counties, and has racked up nearly 2,000 followers on its Facebook page. New labels have just arrived, and there are tentative plans to begin external distribution by the end of this year, Arbuckle said.
“I need more space, especially at the back,” said Arbuckle. “I would also like to have a little more space here in the bar and the dining room.”
But for now, Arbuckle and Bowles are happy with their comfortable space, where they can, as he puts it, “engage in research and development.”
So what is R&D in the distillery sector?
“Make a few cocktails and find out what goes with it,” Arbuckle said. “This is the funniest part.”
For more information
To learn more about Savage Distilling Inc., 1561 Cottage Ave., visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Savage-Distilling-LLC-1897065610553217/.
Customers must be at least 21 years old to participate.