Ready for a sip of bliss? This cocktail recipe is sure to do the trick. But, it has to start with a quality spirit made with an excellent water source. Olympia Distilling Company has just the pour. 

Olympia Distilling Company has longtime roots in the Pacific Northwest, with a deep connection to the much-missed Olympia Brewing Company. The brewery was first established in 1896 by Leopold Schmidt as Capital Brewing Company before the name changed, ultimately creating a legacy behind the “Oly” brand. Over the years, a series of consolidations and mergers put Olympia under Pabst Brewing Company, where it has languished. Now, Pabst has given complete control of the vodka brand to longtime industry professionals Ray Watson and Lesa Givens.

Formerly Shoebox Spirits, the new Olympia Distilling Co. in Tumwater, Wash., became operational in early 2020. Since then, Watson and Givens have been making spirits utilizing the brewery’s famed water source. “The artesian water that we use is untreated. The water is hand-drawn from a well that originally fed the Olympia Brewery,” said Givens.

The water used at the distillery is hauled 1,000 gallons at a time, traveling three miles across town before it is used to make the handcrafted vodka. After all, beverages are only as good as the water used at the beginning of the process. Leopold Schmidt certainly knew that. And subsequently, so did every drinker of Olympia, who knew the beer through its famous tagline “It’s the water.”

According to Watson and Givens, Schmidt sent the water to be tested at Chicago’s famed Wahl-Henius Institute of Fermentology and received pleasantly surprising results. He was onto something at the time, and Olympia Vodka is carrying on the tradition of making craft beverages with that same excellent water source.

“We are thrilled to know that we have been given the opportunity and responsibility to continue this legacy Pacific Northwest brand,” said Watson. “We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback and incredible support that we have received so far. The future of Olympia Vodka is very bright.”

Photo by DeRon Wilson

Oly Bliss

By DeRon Wilson, Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar – Olympia, Wash.

2 oz Olympia Vodka

.75 oz fresh lime juice (keep lime rinds)

.75 oz spiced pineapple syrup (recipe follows)

Star Anise for garnish

Muddle 1 lime rind in a cocktail shaker. Add the ingredients into the cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold, about 10-20 seconds. Strain cocktail into a coupe, garnish with star anise and enjoy!

Spiced Pineapple Syrup

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp clove

1 cinnamon stick (crushed)

1 whole star anise

Add ingredients to a small saucepan on low heat for 5-7 mins, stir slowly until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let the spices steep until cool. Strain before use. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Syrup will keep for up to 7 days.