Spirits-ual healing: A look at St. Petersburg Distillery

This reporter's favorite spirits from St. Petersburg Distillery, pro cocktail ideas included.

click to enlarge FULL PROOF: The distillery's tropical gin calls for a medley of 13 botanicals. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
FULL PROOF: The distillery's tropical gin calls for a medley of 13 botanicals.

St. Petersburg Distillery, the region’s latest booze-maker, is big on Florida heritage.

The craft distillery’s small-batch, pot-distilled creations boast locally sourced ingredients — citrus, sweet corn and molasses to name a few — that speak to the state’s “old artisan way,” according to director of product development Daniel Undhammar. Vintage St. Pete scenes — shots of the Shuffleboard Club, Central Avenue and the beach — decorate cases containing the distillery’s flagship line of Old St. Pete spirits, and a vintage postcard is slipped into every box.

“We take our time, we don’t cut corners,” Undhammar says.

Focused on growing each of its brands, the distillery, located west of Tropicana Field, also educates folks on how to integrate the homegrown hooch into their cocktails, whether that means posting DIY recipes for consumers on its website or helping bars and restaurants “elevate their beverage programs.”

“We’re all about local, building a foundation here in Tampa Bay,” Undhammar says, “with a global vision.”

For those looking to discover new Florida-inflected tastes for their liquor stash (a map on the distillery’s site now helps you locate the spirits you desire, including the double gold medal-winning Tippler’s Orange Liqueur and Old St. Pete Vodka, as well as the soon-to-be-released Banyan Reserve vodka), here are my five favorites, alongside Undhammar’s suggestions for sipping.

Old St. Pete Tropical Gin. Thirteen botanicals, green cardamom and juniper among them, go into this signature gin, along with the juice and peel of lemons and Florida grapefruits and oranges. “We wanted to create the perfect bridge to the Old World,” Undhammar says, but with contemporary nuance. The gin, which goes through a double-distillation process, works in everything from a martini to a gin and tonic to a White Lady.

Old St. Pete Sweet Corn Whiskey. This high-proof, grain-to-glass liquor is crafted with local sweet corn and serves drinkers’ growing thirst for American whiskeys. Fit for shooting or sipping, the whiskey is “very elegant and palatable,” says Undhammar, adding that it’s great in classics like Boulevardiers, Old Fashioneds and mint juleps.

Royal Mead. He describes this rich and drinkable mead — all honey, no nonsense — as “very similar to dessert wines like madeira and sweet vermouth.” Although the honey wine’s enjoyable neat, on the rocks or chilled, it puts a fine twist on offerings such as The Bee's Knees, Manhattans and Negronis, too.

Oak & Palm Coconut Rum. This coconut rum is one of two spirits in the Oak & Palm collection, which fall into the premium and mid-tier rum sector. Made with real coconut, it’s tasty over ice with any soda, or shaken with fresh lime juice and topped with lime shavings.

Old St. Pete Righteous Rum & Spice. Steeped with cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and more, Rum & Spice incorporates state-sourced molasses to achieve its ample body and character. Undhammer says it’s Christmas in a cup no matter how you sip, but if all else fails, try it “neat room temperature with a good cigar.” 


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