Food journeyman distillery’s newest cocktail with staymaker restaurant
It suddenly dawns on Laura Beck that sending Journeyman Distillery’s whiskey down to Tennessee to be put up for tasting alongside such traditional Volunteer State bourbon strongholds as Jack Daniels and George Dickel is a pretty bold move for a whiskey maker from Michigan.
“How gutsy are we, right?” the marketing manager at the Journeyman Distillery and Staymaker Restaurant in Three Oaks says, while seated at a picnic table inside the spacious dining room in full view of numerous barrels of spirits aging on the floor.
“We do whiskey, we do just different kinds of spirits,” she says. “We have clear spirits, like gin, vodka. We do an unaged version of whiskey as well, so that’s clear. We have a coffee liqueur. We have a limoncello.”
Since Staymaker at Journeyman Distillery opened one year ago, food has entered the equation inside the massive EK Warren Historic Featherbone Factory space on Three Oaks’ Generations Drive that now facilitates both Journeyman Distillery and its cohabitant restaurant, Staymaker.
Visitors walk the original maple factory floors still in place from when the historical building opened in 1883 as a buggy whip and corsets manufacturer. Wood that served as flooring for an early 1900s schoolhouse is now used for the picnic tables and other wood furnishings inside Staymaker.
Now, however, instead of just going to sample the freshly distilled whiskeys and other spirits Journeyman has been aging and churning out since opening for business in 2011, diners are making their way to Three Oaks for Detroit-style pizzas, pulled pork and bison burger sandwiches, and entrees that soothe the taste buds with Idaho trout, hanger steak, Arctic char pickled fennel, or the roasted red pepper pasta plate, Tagliatelle.
“I think we’re making the transition to food,” Beck says. “Because the distillery has, obviously, been around longer, and everyone is aware … that we sell spirits. But we’re incorporating all sorts of different local farms, and I think we’re getting the community involved. So I think we’re slowly making the turnaround, trying to focus more on the food.”
Pairing different cuisines with appropriate wines is traditional. Staymaker takes the same premise, but pairs different whiskeys with entrees. And, of course, where there’s a distillery that makes whiskey for drinking, there’s condiments and other homemade items that also contain Journeyman’s finest spirits.
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“A lot of our menu items work in whiskey with the product, like, our ketchup is made with whiskey,” Beck says. “A lot of our salad dressings feature some spirits as well. We have a whiskey barbecue sauce. And the cocktails are, like, so bizarre, but in a good way, taking things like … we had one made out of vegetable beets, and we have a very good peach cocktail with caramelized peach flavors.”
Got a special event or holiday on tap?
“We did an Election Day whiskey cocktail,” Beck says. “We had presidential chicken wings.”
The most popular food item, she says, is the oven-baked Detroit-style pizza. Choose between two crusts — a rye-wheat crust, or mass bill, corn, wheat and rye crust — and eclectic flavors ranging from a bacon and squash pizza and a pancetta and goat cheese pizza, to the more traditional mushroom and onion and sausage and pepperoni pie.
“They are square, but the crust is kind of built up more,” Beck says. “I get full off one piece, the crust is just super thick. And we have a Bahn Mi pizza; I just like the thickness of it,” she says about the pie topped with pork belly, pickled daikon, pickled carrot, brick, cilantro, jalapeno pepper and Thai chili sauce. “And we feature grains that we use in our products in our (pizza) dough. They’re very popular, the pizzas.”
But when you’re sitting in a dining room a few feet away from a few dozen or so barrels of whiskey going through the aging process, it’s fairly certain that you’ve come to the right place for a drink. And take that, Tennessee.
“We’ve always just hit hard at the spirits and the distillery,” Beck says. “So we make sure now that people know Staymaker is right here, since a lot of people don’t know that, that it’s in the same building. I think we’re slowly making the turnaround, trying to focus more on the food.”
• What: Upscale comfort cuisine in the heart of Three Oaks’ Journeyman whiskey distillery
• Where: 109 Generations Drive, Three Oaks
• Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays
• Prices: Pizza, $14-$10; sandwiches, $15-$10; entrees, $22-$14
• For more information: Call 269-820-2050 or visit journeymandistillery.com