Idaho's Food Scene
(page 12 of 12)
SPIRIT OF THE LAND
Distilleries put a new spin on the spud
Ski towns are famous for hard-partying ways. But when it comes to actually making the booze that ski bums and cowboys tip back, Idaho’s potato vodka doesn’t exactly rank up there with Tennessee bourbon. And yet, our state is home to the largest commercial distillery west of the Mississippi, an artisan liquor producer trained in the Tyrolean Alps and the first distillery pub ever opened in the United States. When it comes to producing sophisticated spirits, Idaho is earning bragging rights.
It’s a capital city institution, but Boise’s Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery opened on downtown’s Basque Block just ten years ago. Owner Kevin Settles remembers it well: 1999 was the year he successfully helped change Idaho law to allow the distilling of spirits in a public place and, in 2000, when Bardenay opened, he became the owner of the first distillery pub in the country. Settles credits his customers with helping him devise creative new cocktails. Find your way to a homemade gin and tonic at one of three of Bardenay’s locations in Boise, Eagle or Coeur d’Alene.
Crafting Spirits the Tyrolean Way
After his apprenticeship at the 400-year-old Erber Distillery in the Austrian Tyrolean Alps, Ketchum-native Andrew Koenig brought his skills stateside and launched Koenig Distillery in Caldwell, Idaho, west of Boise. Using ingredients from within Idaho’s borders, his craft distillery produces six flavors of fruit brandy as well as one potato vodka. He flavors his huckleberry vodka with wild mountain berries hand-picked in northern Idaho. Koenig Distillery is open for tours and tastings Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.
Custom Distilling House
Gray Ottley of Distilled Resources, Inc. (DRInc) should take some credit for keeping the Idaho potato famous. Ottley said his commercial distillery near Rigby, Idaho, is the largest west of the Mississippi, and home to award-winning potato vodkas including 44 North Vodka and Blue Ice Potato Vodka.
It takes nine and a half pounds of famous russet potatoes to make one 750-milliliter bottle of spirits. The result is delightfully smooth, consistently high-ranking vodka.
To sample this premium home state hooch, pick up a bottle of Blue Ice or Square One Botanical Vodka, which is made from organic Idaho rye.