In this episode, host Nick Johnson invites Nick Traeger, the lead distiller at Hi & Mighty, to introduce us to Indianapolis’ newest distillery. Established by Dan and Jamie Fahrner, Nick describes how he became an integral part of the company and shares some exciting news about Hi & Mighty’s future in Indy, including new products that are set to launch this year and a full-scale distillery, tasting room, food & cocktail garden within the Indiana State Fairgrounds campus. Tune in to this episode to hear what Nick pairs with their Twin Gins: Big Fuss and Big Heart.
Nick Johnson (00:07):
All right. Hello and welcome back to another very fun episode of Classical Pairings. I am your host Nick Johnson, and I am sitting in a room that is full of promise. Um, I’m on the Indiana Fairgrounds, um, off of 38th. I’m in the Southwest Pavilion if you happen to know that building. Um, that is soon to be, um, a fantastic spot for a distillery and a bar and all sorts of fantastic products. I’ve actually already sipped one of them and I’m super excited because it was delicious. We’ll talk about that in a second. Um, but this is the future Home of the Hi and Mighty Distillery, and I’m sitting here with Nick Traeger, who is a distiller and co-owner of this venture. And this is super exciting for us because we normally in this show, uh, meet places who have already been open for a while, but now we’re getting kind of the inside scoop. Um, and I’m tasting things that haven’t even been released to the public yet. Um, so hopefully after you hear this, you’ll be keeping your eye open because these products will be available to you quite soon. So Nick, thank you so much for being here. This is a pleasure. And I just noticed you have a high patch on your, On your.
Nick Traeger (01:08):
You got that nice and embroidery man. I’ve got my company swag
Nick Johnson (01:13):
So, uh, alright Nick, so when is this going to be available for people to come and purchase your fine products and drink them?
Nick Traeger (01:22):
Yeah, so we are, like you said, early phases, like scary early phases. So construction starts in June of this month of this year. Um, hoping to be open to the public on the state fair property this upcoming fall, probably October.
Nick Johnson (01:36):
Okay, Open the fall.
Nick Traeger (01:37):
So that’s, that’s when you be able to physically be in this space. But until then, we’ve got, uh, starting in late May, early June, uh, three products are gonna be available, two Gins and, uh,
Nick Johnson (01:48):
Fantastic. Uh, and so those will be available in liquor stores in central Indiana at first and.
Nick Traeger (01:55):
Yep, Liquor stores. We’re hitting up as many bars. Anyone that’s listening to this that owns the bar, Please buy my gin [laughter] and we will do our best to get it anywhere we can near you in Indiana.
Nick Johnson (02:04):
Okay, Fantastic. Yeah, and I will say, so the thing you said at canned cocktail, the thing we, uh, cracked open while we were setting up for the episode is called the Lemon Shake up and Ooh, it is good.
Nick Traeger (02:15):
It’s pretty good actually.
Nick Johnson (02:16):
So, like, that sounded mean that it stunned me how good it is.
Nick Johnson (02:20):
I’m saying like, as a first offering from you guys. Um, but it is, I can imagine drinking far too many of these this summer. Um, so you said it’s, it’s a gin backed cocktail?
Nick Traeger (02:30):
Yeah, so it’s gin, um, like gin sort of as the base liqueur. It’s 7%, so it’s not anything that’s like gonna knock you down and after one. Um, so, you know, take on a boat, take it to a sporting event, but, uh, the rest of it is really like straight ahead lemon puree, uh, lemon juice, gin, a little bit of michigan sugar and, you know, distilled water.
Nick Johnson (02:50):
Nick Traeger (02:50):
I mean, it’s a really simple base, but it’s not too sweet.
Nick Johnson (02:54):
Yeah, that’s, that’s what, that’s what I liked about it, that it went down smooth and easy. Um, but didn’t, um, one of our producers said didn’t, doesn’t stick to the teeth.
Nick Traeger (03:05):
Nick Johnson (03:06):
Right. So it’s just, you can sort of enjoy it. So will people be able to buy this at the fair?
Nick Traeger (03:09):
They will, so we’re actually.
Nick Johnson (03:11):
In August, right?
Nick Traeger (03:12):
Yep. So we’re working, yeah, three weeks in August. We’re stressed and excited about it. [laughter] Um, it’s good. It’s a lot of cans to produce, but we’re working with a couple like really great humans at CenterPoint and Eighth Day that are helping us get in.
Nick Johnson (03:23):
Okay, Fantastic. Yeah.
Nick Traeger (03:23):
Cause we don’t have a space yet. We’re actually distilling and canning everything there. They’re just the sweetest people helping us out. But we’ll be able to have that at a couple bars, uh, throughout the state fair. Uric, uh, who runs all the concessions here has like, been incredibly helpful. Actually, like, we have nothing bad to say about anyone. Everyone has been incredibly helpful. Like, and it’s, uh, like you hear people say that and it seems insincere, but for some reason everyone’s excited to have us here [laughter]
Nick Johnson (03:50):
Yeah, that’s great.
Nick Traeger (03:50):
Which is really, really cool. So, we’ll, we’ll have the Lemon Shakeup kind of just probably just at three or four bars throughout the state fair.
Nick Johnson (03:56):
Okay, Fantastic. So if people haven’t found it at the liquor store floor, then make sure if you come to the fair to grab a can of this, it will make, especially on a hot Indiana august day, um, it will make things wonderful. This was this building. What, during the fair, what did this used to be? Or was?
Nick Traeger (04:11):
This has just been like a storage facility and a maintenance facility.
Nick Johnson (04:14):
Nick Traeger (04:15):
So it’s just kind of been sitting, uh, not empty, but just sort of been a practical use for them and I think with Covid happening with the state fair, that’s sort of how we got in here, was just because the, the nature of the state fair was they have three huge weeks in August and then they have conventions, you know, spotted throughout the year, but there’s just a lot of empty spa-, empty time and empty space happening here. And so I think they, like, we could just become the new convention center, uh, a little bit. And so they’re starting to kind of,
Nick Johnson (04:45):
Have some offerings year round
Nick Traeger (04:46):
Nick Johnson (04:47):
You guys, people once you are open to the public, you said probably in the fall.
Nick Traeger (04:49):
Nick Johnson (04:49):
They’ll be able to come anytime when it’s not fair.
Nick Traeger (04:52):
Right. I mean, the fairgrounds is open 24/7, which is the thing I didn’t know.
Nick Johnson (04:54):
Yeah, I didn’t either actually.
Nick Traeger (04:56):
It’s like, oh, cool, the fairgrounds is open. So there’s always a gate open and it’s one of those things where we will be here, obviously busy during large events, but, um, we’ll be kind of 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM sort of a thing.
Nick Johnson (05:09):
You have a rough idea how many, how many customers will be able to fit in here?
Nick Traeger (05:11):
Uh, so our capacity is 290.
Nick Johnson (05:13):
Okay, I was gonna say this is a large space.
Nick Traeger (05:15):
It’s a big old space. Half of it’ll be production but we will have a giant bar. Uh, we actually went out of our way, unfortunately, in Indiana with an artisan distillers license. They won’t let you be family friendly, but we’ve gone out of our way to actually get another, a secondary license.
Nick Johnson (05:32):
Nick Traeger (05:32):
To be able to actually be not just a, a small niche cocktail bar, but actually be a place where you can like, bring your kids, you know, the fairground, let ’em run around on our huge patio space and like. So there will be a tight bar that’s 21 and over in here where if you want to come have your cocktail and not be annoyed by 12 year olds running around [laughter] you can totally do that. But if, you know, if you want to come have a draft cocktail, you can absolutely do that as well with your family.
Nick Johnson (05:55):
Okay, Nice. Uh, so you are distilling on site here?
Nick Traeger (05:59):
Nick Johnson (05:59):
Has that started here already?
Nick Traeger (06:01):
A little bit, but mostly we do it at Eighth Day.
Nick Johnson (06:03):
Okay, good. Those are friends of classical pairings.
Nick Traeger (06:05):
Nick Johnson (06:06):
Yeah, Yeah. I’ve done an epi, uh, article on, on Eighth Day. They’re great people.
Nick Traeger (06:09):
Man, Matt and Jamie are the sweetest.
Nick Johnson (06:11):
Yeah. Yeah. And, um, well that’s fantastic. And I like to see, I don’t know, one thing I like, you were mentioned that all these people you’re meeting have been very supportive.
Nick Traeger (06:19):
Nick Johnson (06:20):
During this show I’ve gotten to meet so many owners and distillers and brewers and things, and they all support each other so much.
Nick Traeger (06:24):
Nick Johnson (06:25):
Which I think is actually kind of true in the music scene here in Indy, which we’ll talk about a little bit. But, um, it seems to be there’s not really like competitive spirit, right?
Nick Traeger (06:35):
Uh, rising tide all ships.
Nick Johnson (06:36):
Yeah, exactly. And like that’s to make people aware of local distilleries as an option with local products and these fantastic gins. Well, I’m assuming. Fantastic looking gins. The bottles are beautiful. Based on the Lemon Shakeup, I am hopeful, but we will, we will sample those here just a minute. But I actually, I’m wondering. Okay, so you guys are at the very beginning.
Nick Traeger (06:54):
Nick Johnson (06:54):
Um, talk to me about, so you, you’re coming up with these recipes, right?
Nick Traeger (07:01):
Nick Johnson (07:01):
Talk to me about your creative process.
Nick Traeger (07:03):
Yeah, so, um, I was a chef for years. So that’s my, uh, training. I went to college for music, but ended up becoming a chef, um, and spent the entirety of my twenties and early thirties, uh, cooking. And so by nature I just started drifting obviously into wine, drifting into beer, and then really kind of fell in love with spirits and sort of what was happening regionally. Um, Michigan makes, there’s a lot of great distilleries up there right now. Um, obviously Chicago has some great ones, and so Indys just starting to really take off with like producing some really high quality stuff. So I got started getting really obsessed with that. Um, and then the reason we sort of landed on gin, and I think the reason I love it is with distilling there’s not as quite as much control of flavors as you would maybe with wine, beer, especially beer. So as, as a basic rule with, you know, whiskey per say, not to talk badly about whiskey, I love to drink whiskey just as much as the next person. There’s a home for everybody. But, um, my obsession with Gin is it’s a true reflection of the person making it or the company making it in that you get to pick the botanicals, you get to pick the thing. Obviously it’s juniper forward, like that’s sort of first thing up to make it a gin. But from that point down, you get to play sort of in a couple different scopes. So to me, like, uh, big fuss here, which is our dry, so we have two gins sitting in front of us, uh, we call them twin gins. My business partners have four boys, last two of them being twins. Um, Arthur and August, Art and Gus, Big Fuss, Big Heart.
Nick Johnson (08:41):
Nick Traeger (08:41):
So, yeah. Um, this is great for podcasting. You can totally see it in your mind’s eye
Nick Traeger (08:47):
Uh, so anyway,
Nick Johnson (08:48):
There will be pictures on our social media.
Nick Traeger (08:50):
Absolutely, Yeah. Um, so anyway, I sort of like, the first one I really fell in love with the idea of was Big Fuss, which is our dry, sort of built for martini, built for a savory purpose. Um, and so what we ended up with was a, a really juniper Forward, which kind of makes it the quote un-quote dry gin, but the sort of mid-palate is, uh, sort of where I lived as a chef, which was very Eastern European, very midwest based. So it’s dill and it’s caraway. It’s a little bit of ginger, white Pepper. So all of these very sort of garden, uh,
Nick Johnson (09:23):
That’s still the Big Fuss, you said?
Nick Traeger (09:25):
Yeah, Big fuss, Yeah.
Nick Johnson (09:26):
Could I actually have just a taste of it?
Nick Traeger (09:27):
Please, Yeah, yeah, yeah
Nick Johnson (09:27):
I know we’re gonna do cocktails. We’ll pair to the cocktails,
Nick Traeger (09:30):
But um, Yeah
Nick Johnson (09:31):
If you just gimme half a finger here or something.
Nick Traeger (09:33):
Absolutely. What I’ll do is I’ll, I’ll even give you a cute little coupe. Um,
Nick Johnson (09:38):
Ooh, that’s pretty.
Nick Traeger (09:39):
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Um, so we’ve got this, like,
Nick Johnson (09:41):
That looks real good on the podcast [laughter].
Nick Traeger (09:44):
He’s really enjoying it folks. It’s truly.
Nick Johnson (09:47):
Fantastic, Thank you.
Nick Traeger (09:48):
Um, Absolutely, so.
Nick Johnson (09:48):
Oh wow, Okay
Nick Traeger (09:49):
And I, in the back even it says kind of a big dill. Um, it’s just cute. Um, but so really the idea is to kind of get that whole thing, there’s actually a little bit of lava salt actually distilled in this as well.
Nick Johnson (10:01):
Lava salt? Okay
Nick Traeger (10:02):
Yeah, So there’s supposed to be a little salinity to it. So it’s supposed to kind of immediately get you to the place where you’re like martini like Yeah, perfect. Or giving you a savory negroni, like giving you a little bit of spin on that.
Nick Johnson (10:16):
That makes sense, yeah.
Nick Traeger (10:16):
Nick Johnson (10:17):
So would you do like dirty martini with this?
Nick Traeger (10:18):
Nick Johnson (10:18):
Before you would do like with the Twist?
Nick Traeger (10:20):
I think so. I mean the, our sort of MO a little bit is we’re not, obviously I’m a little bit of an industry person in the restaurants, but my partners aren’t, and we just are kind of home obsessive bar people, cocktail people. Um, and we just sort of noticed there’s a little bit of like an barrier to entry on some of this. And like, we just wanted to make stuff that’s built for cocktails. So you don’t have to guess looking at the gins, like you can kind of look at our bottle and go, That looks herbal, that looks floral
Nick Johnson (10:50):
[laughter] Yeah, Yeah. That makes sense.
Nick Traeger (10:51):
And, and you can kind of pick it up and go, Cool. Yeah, I know how you use this.
Nick Johnson (10:54):
Bottle of dry, vermouth and an olive and you’re done.
Nick Traeger (10:57):
You’re there 100%. And that’s our MO too is like, how simple can we make this? Like, can we not make you go searching for four ingredients, eight ingredients? And those are kind of gonna be the cocktails I make today as well, super simple.
Nick Johnson (11:09):
This, uh, by the way, so I’m, I’ve sip it here just a little bit. That’s, it’s very good. And uh, what I love about it is it is it sort of tells a story because there’s, there’s kind of four distinct phases and as you were describing it, like, I mean, I definitely, I think the dill was the first one I hit.
Nick Traeger (11:26):
Nick Johnson (11:28):
Um, and then there’s this sort of burst of floral. But then there was a pinch of heat. You said there’s like a pepper in it, right?
Nick Traeger (11:35):
Yeah, There’s cuba and white peppercorns.
Nick Johnson (11:38):
Yeah. And then, but then it fades. Like it’s not an unpleasant, like, it’s not like a cayenne of course something, it’s just, it’s just a hint of of of heat to it. Um, that then fades. Uh, that’s an impressive amount of flavors packed into, you know, an eighth of an ounce that I just.
Nick Traeger (11:55):
Right, I love it, Thanks for saying that. And it’s built, it’s built for, you know, the nature of that mid pallet depending on what you’re trying to make, um, to kind of pop. So in a gimlet, even in a gin and tonic, there’s one of those things where historically, I mean, if you get a standard dry gin, you get juniper, maybe you get a little heat on the end theoretically, depending on who’s making it, you get a little bit in the middle. We’re trying to go for like a little bit of a statement where you go, Oh, if I’m looking for something bordering on savory, even if it’s a tonic, gin and tonic, like that gives a little bit of filling out outside of citrus, juniper and sugar.
Nick Johnson (12:33):
Yeah. So you study, you study music at school? I did, yeah. What did you say? Or study, Sorry. Instrument, voice?
Nick Traeger (12:38):
I didn’t finish, uh, but I was going to Anderson University to be a choral music education major.
Nick Johnson (12:43):
Okay, Fantastic. So you’re a vocalist?
Nick Traeger (12:45):
Theoretical vocalist. I was a vocalist.
Nick Johnson (12:47):
Everybody’s a vocalist.
Nick Traeger (12:47):
Absolutely. Whether or not you can do it, I was obsessed with choral music.
Nick Johnson (12:51):
Nick Traeger (12:51):
Most of my actual, if you wanna talk to me about theory in high school and early college, I was an upright and electric jazz bass player.
Nick Johnson (12:57):
Oh, okay. Great. So that’s good cause the next part of the podcast is I’m quizzing you on chord changes.
Nick Traeger (13:01):
Grea,great. Let’s, let’s, let’s talk about secondary dominants. Where like.
Nick Johnson (13:04):
What I’ve, it’s finals week right now. We’re recording this. Of course I do music history, not theory. Anyway, Okay. Um, so, but my actual question is.
Nick Traeger (13:14):
I love it
Nick Johnson (13:15):
Um, cause in this show, something we explore a lot is just really the creative spirit and how it guides musicians and how it guides distillers brewers, brewers and chefs.
Nick Traeger (13:23):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (13:23):
And so I, I’m interested, um, like when you are coming up with these recipes, um, I mean, do do you think that your artistic background inspires you at all? Or do you, do you think that there’s a trial and error spirit?
Nick Traeger (13:38):
Nick Johnson (13:38):
Or I mean, I know you said you were a chef and even that. Like, perhaps being a chef was inspired by some of your musical background.
Nick Traeger (13:43):
I think that’s a great question. I, I am like, I’ve always like, and I think this is true of a lot of people, but like, I’ve always like irked a little at the artist, uh, title in anything that I did. I sort of have a little bit of an A plus B equal C brain. Like I’m, I don’t have much magic, but, um, what I do like sort of remembering. And even when I was a chef and coming to bees, um, the only time I felt creative was usually in the process of going, I learned a thing. I learned a thing unrelated to the thing. Do these two things work and how can I make those two things work together? Which is not a particularly revolutionary way of thinking, but it’s usually how you find something that you don’t see on the market or you don’t see being performed or you don’t see like anybody else doing. It’s just kind of playing around with two pieces and that’s really the only way I can do it. And so, like for me, a little bit of that is, you know, Big Fuss. Going back to that is like, well, aquavit rules, that caraway thing. I know that I love all of these spices inherently, and I know juniper plays well. So like, how do we do that thing? Same thing with the other ones. So like, that’s like sort of how I enter all of of that is like, I’m a, man enneagram nerds, I don’t know if anyone, anyone listening, this is a enneagram person, but I’m a five and I am like a researcher and I’m like a deep into the rabbit hole on a thing and get as much information as I can. And then I like peek my head back up and go like, so what am I doing? What, what’s my job? What am I getting paid for? Anyway, so like, so that’s sort of unfortunately or fortunately, who knows? We’ll see. Um, Yeah. How I come to a lot of this.
Nick Johnson (15:16):
Well, and I don’t think, I mean, I don’t think that’s unprecedented in music. I mean, I think if you look at a lot of the great brilliant composers or performers, it’s, I really like thing A and I like thing C and I’m gonna create thing B.
Nick Traeger (15:26):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (15:26):
That blends those things. And that’s in classical music, that’s in jazz, that’s in pop. You know what I mean? That’s in, there’s all, everything has influence, I don’t think that that’s don’t sell yourself short. [laughter] put it that way.
Nick Traeger (15:37):
I appreciate that.
Nick Johnson (15:37):
Um, I think that within the artistic, uh, idea, you were very much on point.
Nick Traeger (15:42):
I feel like that’s maybe the word craft comes into that. I think that which gets battered around a lot in distilleries and beer a little bit, but I think that’s truly like a good description of the thing is like, you’ve done the research, you’ve done the work, you’ve run your scales, you’ve learned what the hell dom- secondary dominance is like, and now you can actually put it into practice when it comes time to actually doing it. We all do our works work at the beginning. Hopefully not true of the distillery.
Nick Johnson (16:06):
Well, so that’s, I mean, two things I’ve tasted so far. Right. I’m excited to have a, a cocktail here in a second. Yeah. But, uh, that actually brings up a question though.
Nick Traeger (16:13):
Nick Johnson (16:13):
How many drafts?
Nick Traeger (16:16):
Nick Johnson (16:18):
Did, did Big Fuss come to you in a dream and then you, or like, I know you just said like you showed up one day and Big Fuss happened. Um, or did you go through a few copies?
Nick Traeger (16:26):
The, I think that was the gin I knew I wanted to make. Um, but then what actually you say that came to you in a dream? Um, we were in a meeting with my two business partners and Jamie, uh, lovely, Jamie Farner, um, said I had a dream about twin gins.
Nick Johnson (16:42):
Nick Traeger (16:42):
Which is like really and truly said that thing. And so I then was like, That’s so fun. Like, you know, we wanna be a cocktail company. Dry gin doesn’t necessarily play for everything, so, that was the start of this. And I like, you’re just sort of riffing. I’m just like Big Heart and Big Fuss named after your two youngest boys. Like perfect. Like let’s go to town and so what really came outta that was like, I sort of had that idea for this savory gin and then we were like, well what’s, what’s the sort of reflex? What’s the next one? And it’s floral. And so what we ended up doing was actually, I think it takes people forever to learn, especially if you’ve never done this before, how to make gin, how to distill. So we actually went down to, uh, we’ve taken classes down there. It’s a goofy name, but it’s a great facility called Moonshine University in Louisville.
Nick Johnson (17:29):
Oh, Okay. Great.
Nick Traeger (17:29):
Epicenter of all spirits in, in America. And so there we actually worked with a guy named Clay who ran COR in Nashville for a while. He was just an incredibly smart, intelligent person. And we spent three days, we came with a flavor profile, we came with a list of botanicals and did batch after batch after batch. The little micro-still doing a liter at a time. Yeah. And I think we did eight iterations of each of these until we scaled it up. So basically we took what you might do over a year in your distillery and batches and not being pleased and then made adjustments on the spot. So we were able to kind of walk into Eighth Day and have an I like, this is our recipe, this is our gin, this is what we make.
Nick Johnson (18:08):
Oh, that’s great.
Nick Traeger (18:08):
Which is really exciting and really fun to do.
Nick Johnson (18:10):
Yeah, now that reminds me of composers going to festivals or something. Right?
Nick Traeger (18:14):
Nick Johnson (18:14):
I’m just gonna, for five days I’m just gonna write and then come out of it with a string quartet or something or whatever. I’m an electronic piece or something.
Nick Traeger (18:21):
Yeah. Um, love it.
Nick Johnson (18:22):
You feeling like a cocktail?
Nick Traeger (18:23):
Let’s do it.
Nick Johnson (18:24):
I’m about ready. So, and then we’ll talk big heart after that. Right. Cause you’re, you’re gonna do a Big Fuss first.
Nick Traeger (18:28):
We’ll do fuss first.
Nick Johnson (18:28):
Nick Traeger (18:30):
Nick Johnson (18:30):
Um, alright. So this one, these bottles are very, these are, bottles are very pretty by the way. They look good.
Nick Traeger (18:37):
Uh, they, they were designed give another shout out to somebody else helping out, uh, by Amy over at Matinee Creative. They’ve, she’s on all of our branding and she’s a wonderful human. Just kills.
Nick Johnson (18:47):
Fantastic. So, alright. Where, where, where are we heading? Oh, you’re pulling out all sorts of things.
Speaker 2 (18:53):
Yeah, we’re gonna table. Okay. We’ll head. So I’ve got, we’re gonna play around a little bit. I’ve never, I’ve never made what I’m about to make you, which is like,
Nick Johnson (19:00):
Nick Traeger (19:00):
Maybe more fun. Right
Nick Johnson (19:02):
That’s exciting. Who knows what’s gonna happen.
Nick Traeger (19:03):
Um, so I have a, have a half a cucumber in my hand. And I’m about to like, just show you the absolute like, chef-ynes of like, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m gonna do a thing.
Nick Johnson (19:12):
Nick Johnson (19:12):
Um, I do that when I make cocktails at home.
Nick Traeger (19:14):
Nick Johnson (19:14):
Pretty often for people.
Nick Traeger (19:15):
And I, and I think
Nick Johnson (19:16):
I’ll ask him like, tell me a color [laughter]
Nick Traeger (19:18):
Absolutely. I love that. I love that. Um, so what we’ll do is I’ve got that, I have some plain simple, we’ll save that for the gimlet. And then I actually have a little celery simple syrup. So I’ve uh sort of cubed up the, uh, cucumber. We’ll throw a splash of this celery syrup in there. Uh, we’re gonna, we’ll make enough for Kennedy. So [laughter] We’ll make three bad three portions here. Uh, and so what we’ll do, what do we want? Lime or lemon? A bit of both?
Nick Johnson (19:49):
Nick Traeger (19:49):
Nick Johnson (19:50):
Nick Traeger (19:50):
You know, um, so we’ve got a little bit of lemon here. What we’ll do is I’ll muddle this cucumber just a little bit into that syrup. Um, just to break it up.
Nick Johnson (20:00):
Okay. The cucumber, sorry. Celery syrup. This is something you made by just putting celery and simple syrup fora while
Nick Traeger (20:05):
So a little bit of, uh, made, what you don’t want to do is cook celery cuz no one likes the flavor of cooked celery. But so what I ended up doing was, um, little just equal part sugar and water, uh, doing celery seed to start to start. And then once it cooled I ended up putting it, pouring it just a little warm over the celery so that it brought a little bit out.
Nick Johnson (20:26):
Oh, oh, I see.
Nick Traeger (20:26):
But I only let that sit on there for 20 minutes and then took it off.
Nick Johnson (20:31):
So this isn’t a let it sit for two weeks kind of infusion?
Nick Traeger (20:32):
No, I’m a, Cause I wanted it to be like a fresh sort of flavor profile. You know what, these
Nick Johnson (20:40):
Are massively big.
Nick Traeger (20:40):
Nick Johnson (20:40):
Too big for the reamer. That happens sometimes
Nick Traeger (20:42):
So we’ll just go by hand [inaudible]
Nick Johnson (20:47):
[laughter] I like that
Nick Traeger (20:49):
Uh, so yeah, so like two lemons, probably two tablespoons of syrup. Celery syrup. Um, and you could totally do this with just plain simple, like, I don’t think it’s completely necessary to have a celery syrup, but I think it’ll play with cucumber really nicely. You’ll absolutely do the, do the Big Fuss thing.
Nick Johnson (21:06):
Okay, um, so you don’t, you don’t have a name for this yet, right?
Nick Traeger (21:09):
Nick Johnson (21:09):
Cause you don’t know what it is. Okay. We’ll
Nick Traeger (21:10):
We’ll figure it out right now. Yeah. We’ll figure it out as soon as we taste, We’ll, we’ll know.
Nick Johnson (21:14):
Who was your favorite composer? In the art music world at least.
Nick Traeger (21:16):
Um, so I was like, I was a bit like, I sang a lot of Rutter.
Nick Johnson (21:21):
Nick Traeger (21:21):
Just like the teachers that I had, like, you know what I mean? The conductors I had when,
Nick Johnson (21:25):
I love John Rutter
Nick Traeger (21:26):
Uh, like just sort of perfect. I was just listening. I have a friend, one of my best friends is in town who I was in chorale with at Anderson, um, who we did a Salvig piece when I was with him called Auftenin. That we listened to last night and it is the most like, pretty easy going spring song.
Nick Johnson (21:44):
Nick Traeger (21:44):
Like, and we just, like, I had just totally forgotten about it. It’s just like unfortunate that that happens when you work in a kitchen and have to cook 2,000 steaks every [laughter] couple of weeks is sometimes the cool thing leaves and you’re stuck with what you have. Um, but uh, so like, I’m going to actually shake this, which is gonna be also great for podcasting.
Nick Johnson (22:02):
Yeah, that’s okay.
Nick Johnson (22:03):
Um, it’s, it’s authentic sounding.
Nick Traeger (22:05):
That’s right. And so, uh, yeah. So like, that’s also one of my favorites. And then, yeah. I was more or less a jazz kid. Like a little bit. And so, yeah. Um,
Nick Johnson (22:17):
I was jazz saxophone by the way.
Nick Traeger (22:19):
Nick Johnson (22:20):
Nick Traeger (22:20):
I didn’t know.
Nick Johnson (22:21):
And I still play a little saxophone now.
Nick Traeger (22:23):
Nick Johnson (22:23):
Not as much. Yeah, My actual background wasn’t in classical that came in grad school.
Nick Traeger (22:26):
Nick Traeger (22:27):
Yeah. What drew you to classical?
Nick Johnson (22:29):
Um, Renaissance music,
Nick Traeger (22:31):
Of course. Naturally
Nick Johnson (22:32):
Naturally as a saxophonist I fell in love with reno-choral Renaissance music.
Nick Traeger (22:37):
Nick Johnson (22:38):
And like Palestrina and [inaudible] and composers like that. And then it was baroque opera after that, which was about as far as, well actually baroque opera and jazz are actually fairly similar, but at least far from the saxophone, since the saxophone didn’t, wouldn’t exist for a couple hundred more years. [laughter]. Um, and then no, in, in, uh, graduate school I fell in love with that. And now I teach early music and all sorts of stuff. Stuff and yeah. Things like that. Early music history. I don’t, I don’t teach.
Nick Traeger (23:02):
No, I I didn’t think you meant children. Yeah. You seem, I mean you seem well tempered, Nick, but I don’t.
Nick Johnson (23:10):
Oh, I love the temperament joke. That is a joke that two of our listeners got. And [laughter]. No, I’m a little more, Oh gosh. I can’t play. That was such a good joke. Like, cause there’s just intonation or pythagroean, but that’s hard to make a, a joke out of. But anyway,
Nick Traeger (23:28):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (23:29):
Yeah, Well done. Oh, this. Oh, okay. We have a pretty garnish. What’s the garnish?
Nick Traeger (23:32):
Just fresh dill.
Nick Johnson (23:33):
Nick Traeger (23:34):
A little fresh dill. That’s actually the start from my garden.
Nick Johnson (23:37):
Beautiful. All right. So we’ve got Big Fuss gin, fresh lemon juice, uh, celery, simple syrup and some cucumber. Absolutely. Uh, with a dill garnish.
Nick Traeger (23:46):
Nick Johnson (23:49):
Cheers Yeah. We don’t need to go all the way across these things a nightmare.
Nick Traeger (23:56):
I mean, I would drink that. I was considering topping with Topo Chico, but I don’t think it needs it.
Nick Johnson (24:02):
Oh, just for like a little bubble. Yeah. I don’t think it really does.
Nick Traeger (24:05):
I think that plays. That’ll golf as they say
Nick Johnson (24:12):
That is, that tastes like spring.
Nick Traeger (24:14):
Yeah, Right [laughter]
Nick Johnson (24:15):
Um, it’s, yeah, The dill is interesting because I, I don’t tend to think dill for a cocktail. Right, That’s usually not a a, a direction I point at.
Nick Traeger (24:29):
Yeah. And it’s like you’re not gonna think sweet that way either. Yeah. Yeah. This is not a not sweet cocktail,
Nick Johnson (24:33):
But Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s enough of the sweetness and there’s enough of the, and the citrus. And I love, I mean, it feels very, I know you, you said you did it without the like the reamer to get the juice out, but what there’s like pulp in it, which I actually kinda like. I think with the, with the like, um, rustic sort of, um, like feel with the, like with the dill in it and stuff. I think it’s actually pretty great.
Nick Traeger (24:57):
Yeah. I think, and I think that’s my like, a little bit not being ever being a bartender or like not being super precious. I mean, um, I was, I was fancy boy chef, um, for a long time. Luke worked in a lot of fine dining, um, in Detroit and in Indy and uh, worked for Toms color for a little bit in California and like, was really precise. But like, kind of the older I get, the more I just want the thing that like tastes good and is efficient. And that I can do in two minutes. I mean, we invented that cocktail here and.
Nick Johnson (25:25):
Yeah, yeah, Yeah.
Nick Traeger (25:26):
We’ve heard it in real time. And it’s just like, no, chop a thing up, Don’t be, you know, don’t worry about it. And that’s sort of the ethos. We we’re really trying to be accessible, um, as a company and as, as our sort of deal we’re sort of meaning to be a cocktail company and being like, this doesn’t have to be stuffy. Like we don’t have to. Like, I love a perfectly made negroni, I love a perfectly made cocktail, but like, also, I don’t know, just pour it in sparkling water and see what you like. See what you think. Like let’s go that direction. So like, letting it be rustic, letting it be imperfect. And I think that’s where you find some really cool areas.
Nick Johnson (26:02):
And I think of the formula of spirit plus citrus, plus sweet plus herb. Boom.
Nick Traeger (26:08):
You’re not gonna do anything. Basically I’m giving you two versions of a gimlet today. That’s basically what I’m gonna give you.
Nick Johnson (26:13):
That’s just fine. I like those things. I’m trying to think of a name here.
Nick Traeger (26:17):
Nick Johnson (26:17):
Oh, then we have to pair some music with it, which is, which is the actual show. So for the name, like, I’m feeling, but the first idea I had, I don’t know if I’m there yet. And that’s just based off because you’re doing like Big Fuss, Big Heart is the Big Rustica.
Nick Traeger (26:28):
I love it. I love it. That’s perfect. That’s perfect. Got it in one. Nick got in one. Don’t even question it.
Nick Johnson (26:36):
[laughter] Right. Well, Big Rustica. I’m writing that down, so don’t forget it. Yeah. If this ever goes on your menu, I’d come in like. I named that, but.
Nick Traeger (26:46):
Absolutely. That’s awesome.
Nick Johnson (26:51):
Hmm. Okay. Music.
Nick Traeger (26:55):
Nick Johnson (26:56):
All right. So what I, what I, what I try to do when I’m, when I’m doing these, um, silly pairings is, um, they’re silly but they’re fun. Is, I try to think of some adjectives that would describe this drink. And then I try to think of what’s a piece of music that those adjectives also fit.
Nick Traeger (27:15):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (27:15):
Basically, So I, if you were with your chef and distiller experience, if you were make putting this on a cocktail menu and you put the, sometimes they have tasting notes, sometimes they don’t write. Sure. But if you were looking for two or three adjectives, what would you go for here?
Nick Traeger (27:29):
Uh, as far as adjectives, and this is truly your chefy world, green is the adjective, you know, um, Uh, freshest pedestrians that we shouldn’t use fresh.
Nick Johnson (27:40):
We’re at the fairgrounds. I think we’re allowed to be a little pedestrian.
Nick Traeger (27:46):
Um, no. Cause verde sounds very, very pretentious.
Nick Johnson (27:50):
Kinda like that though
Nick Traeger (27:50):
But it’s good though. Um, I don’t know if that’s better than green though. Um, Um, what do you think? I think the celery in there. It’s a, it’s a, Oh, I lost my mic. It’s a back note, but its in there. And I think that like, uh, earthy sort of like subtlety is in there. So I like earthy.
Nick Johnson (28:18):
Earthy, Okay. Yeah, cause I was gonna say like, there’s garden-ish to it.
Nick Traeger (28:24):
Garden, Yeah. Garden’s a better word. Yeah, Yeah.
Nick Johnson (28:25):
Yep. But gardeny isn’t a word. Gardenless, Garnish.
Nick Traeger (28:30):
Nick Johnson (28:30):
Nick Traeger (28:31):
Nick Johnson (28:36):
Actually, I like that word, Gartisanal
Nick Traeger (28:38):
Nick Johnson (28:40):
I’m writing that down. Alright.
Nick Traeger (28:41):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (28:42):
Um hmm. Okay. So green and then I think it’s almost a tiny bit salty.
Nick Traeger (28:51):
Nick Johnson (28:51):
But in, in like, in a pleasant way. I think that’s coming from the, the, There’s no salt in it.
Nick Traeger (28:56):
There’s lava salt in the gin.
Nick Johnson (28:57):
There’s some salt in the gin, is that it?
Nick Traeger (28:58):
Yeah, that’s it.
Nick Johnson (28:59):
But I think the, the salt works really well here to bring, I’ve actually, I’ve started salting cocktails more often. It’s not a thing I used to do, but a friend of mine showed it to me.
Nick Traeger (29:06):
Yeah. It’s a thing.
Nick Johnson (29:06):
And just like a pinch of salt and a dirty martini and
Nick Traeger (29:09):
Not enough to taste it, but just enough to unleash a couple things.
Nick Johnson (29:12):
Yeah, Yeah. It opens up other notes.
Nick Traeger (29:14):
Nick Johnson (29:14):
Right. But I wouldn’t call it salty. I would call it like salt aware or like salt conscious. But that sounds like there’s no salt.
Nick Traeger (29:22):
Nick Johnson (29:23):
Salt leaning. That’s good. Yeah. Okay.
Nick Traeger (29:26):
Nick Johnson (29:26):
Okay. So green, earthy or gar-artisanal
Nick Traeger (29:31):
Nick Johnson (29:33):
Nick Traeger (29:33):
We should really get that.
Nick Johnson (29:35):
Or Garadisanal. That sounds like Snoop dog.
Nick Traeger (29:38):
Nick Traeger (29:40):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (29:41):
I’m also gonna write down gardisanal.
Nick Traeger (29:42):
Just for later, Just for me.
Nick Johnson (29:44):
Yeah. Like, I mean, you know, he works with Martha Stewart and stuff. Maybe Snoop Dogg should, I mean, he should start a line.
Nick Traeger (29:50):
He has a gin.
Nick Johnson (29:51):
He does have-
Nick Traeger (29:52):
He has a gin, He has a strawberry gin called Indoggo. He just needs to, he just now needs to like put it herb, herbal one called gardisanal with two Zs.
Nick Johnson (30:05):
Hmm. All right. The piece that keeps coming to mind is one that I think I’ve even used before, which I dunno if that’s cheating, but I just love it so much this time of year. And that’s, um, and because it’s, there’s, it’s a choral work. I feel like the first one we should do a choral work so that you feel at home.
Nick Traeger (30:30):
Oh, I love it.
Nick Johnson (30:31):
Um, cause if I do just like a symphony or something, then you’re gonna feel excluded.
Nick Traeger (30:34):
[laughter] Hey, I played trombone in middle school.
Nick Johnson (30:36):
Oh, okay [laughter]. Oh, well, middle school [laughter]. Um, I’m kind of feeling Claude Debussy’s, Salute Printemp.
Nick Traeger (30:43):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (30:44):
Uh, the Salute to Spring Time. Um, it’s this time of year, so we’re recording this, uh, on May 1st or 2nd, whatever it is right now.
Nick Traeger (30:54):
Oh, It is May 1st.
Nick Johnson (30:56):
Um, yeah. And it, the, you know, the, the drive here, all the flowers are blooming now. It’s beautiful. The mosquitoes aren’t out yet. Like it’s really the best three weeks or so in Indiana. And, um, I love listening to this piece and I feel like it is a gar-gar, It’s a gardisanal type of piece.
Nick Traeger (31:14):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (31:15):
Um, and I think, so yeah, let’s go ahead and give this, So Claude Debussy uh Salut Printemps. There might be one other word in there. Du or something French or something. Um, okay. So what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna listen to this and I want you to tell me if this makes any sense.
Nick Traeger (31:32):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (31:32):
Do you think I captured anything with the composition? So let’s go ahead and listen to a little Claude Debussy.
Music Plays (31:38):
[Salut Printemp by Claude Debussy]
Nick Johnson (33:39):
So we’ve been listening to some Salut Printemp by Claude Debussy. I can not help but smile when I listen to that piece. It just makes me so happy. So, um, it’s just so joyful and colorful. Uh, but how, how do you think I did Nick? Do you think that this matches the cocktail that we call the big rustica?
Nick Traeger (33:55):
I think that’s perfect cause I think, like, I think there’s a real sweet little thing, like especially in some of the piano, like arpeggiating down that’s like “Oh, I just want to walk down the [inaudible] with everything in full bloom to kind of bring it back to Indy and just be like, Yeah, yes, this is green, this is vibrant”. This is like just moving along at the nice pace where it’s not frantic or rushed, but it’s spring in easy and green and love. That’s lovely.
Nick Johnson (34:20):
Yeah, Yeah. That’s awesome. I hear these, these vocal lines, so like the pianos move doing these down and then the vocal line goes sores up. And that was like a, like a flower blooming or something.
Nick Traeger (34:30):
I love that.
Nick Johnson (34:30):
You know what I mean? Love like a flower rising up.
Nick Traeger (34:32):
I love that.
Nick Johnson (34:32):
Yeah. Um, and then this, there’s this that soloist moment, um, which may or may not have gotten to in the, in the recording, but, uh, there’s that, I don’t know. I was trying to think if that’s like, if that’s the gin, like, hey, I’m still here.
Nick Traeger (34:44):
I love that [laughter]. I love that attention. That’s through line. That middle note that’s just sort of like, “Ooh” Like let’s get into the granular almost.
Nick Johnson (34:51):
Nick Traeger (34:51):
Nick Johnson (34:52):
Yeah, I think there’s-
Nick Traeger (34:54):
I love that
Nick Johnson (34:55):
I think I’m, there’s something about being here on the fairgrounds, especially not during the fair.
Nick Traeger (35:00):
Nick Johnson (35:01):
Um, that is, it’s a little, uh, what’s a good way to say disorienting? Like Yeah,
Nick Traeger (35:08):
Jarring a little
Nick Johnson (35:09):
A little out of reality in a bit. Cause I ,you know, I’ve been here during the fair.
Nick Traeger (35:12):
Nick Johnson (35:12):
I’ve been here to winter fest.
Nick Traeger (35:14):
Nick Johnson (35:14):
Um, but so I’ve never been here where there’s not thousands of people.
Nick Traeger (35:18):
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Nick Johnson (35:19):
And it’s sort of interesting, like walking around outside, like these buildings, many others kind of old and their arch architectural style and very beautiful architectural style.
Nick Traeger (35:28):
Incredibly beautiful. And, and what’s really neat is soon you’ll be actually be able to kind of going into this song, Uhhuh, they’re just getting started, but Purdue AG extension for Marion County is here and they have the master gardening program.
Nick Johnson (35:38):
Oh, Great. Okay.
Nick Traeger (35:39):
So, actually you can go over there and they have regular, like, large beautiful plots of gardens that they, do for their exams and everything
Nick Johnson (35:46):
Nick Traeger (35:47):
and go through this process. And so like talking about like these like little like miracle plots in the state fairgrounds that you just have know, you walk right past. Cause we’re hitting a funnel kick
Nick Johnson (35:56):
Nick Traeger (35:59):
And you have no idea, but like, Yeah.
Nick Johnson (36:00):
And you wanna go look at a pig or something.
Nick Traeger (36:03):
The largest pig in Indiana. Incredible.
Nick Johnson (36:07):
All right. So speaking of floral, would you give me a little sip here of the Big Heart?
Nick Traeger (36:13):
Nick Johnson (36:13):
The other of the twin
Nick Traeger (36:14):
Here, What we’ll do is I’ll clear out your glass. You can try it straight and then I’ll make a cocktail.
Nick Johnson (36:17):
Perfect. Yeah. That’ll be wonderful. I do like just a little tiny taste of a straight. So the, the Big Fuss is dill forward, the Big Heart on the bottle it says wild and floral.
Nick Traeger (36:28):
Wild and floral. So yeah. So same, you know, Juniper forward as the main deal just to make it a gin. But then as far as botanicals, we kind of go take a left turn at, um, uh, coriander and start introducing cardamom. Which is an inherently sort of floral interesting note. Um, and then we do chamomile, lavender, bergamot.
Nick Johnson (36:53):
Nick Traeger (36:53):
Rose, Heather. Um, and then there’s like pink peppercorn at the end. Um, grains of paradise is actually the pepper note on this one, which is,
Nick Johnson (37:01):
Say that again?
Nick Traeger (37:02):
Grains of paradise.
Nick Johnson (37:03):
Okay, I not familiar with that
Nick Traeger (37:04):
Which is sorta peppercorn, uh, relative.
Nick Johnson (37:07):
Man, I wonder if I went too early with my spring.
Nick Traeger (37:10):
Nick Johnson (37:11):
Cause this, I mean this smells, well this smells more like summer.
Nick Traeger (37:13):
Nick Johnson (37:13):
This smells like, just like
Nick Traeger (37:15):
Full bloom. Yeah. We’ve been at it for a while. The roses are up.
Nick Johnson (37:19):
Yeah, um, yeah.
Nick Traeger (37:23):
I hate to dump the rest of a cocktail, but I’m gonna
Nick Johnson (37:32):
I think both of these, I think you could drink neat. Honestly. I, I think that they’re actually, I know you said you’re wanting to be cocktail forward and, um, I appreciate that quite a bit as, as a cocktail fan, but these are compared to a lot of, you know, I don’t know. I don’t, there’s people who disagree with me. I don’t think I would drink Bombay neat. I-I probably wouldn’t, right. But these I would. Or maybe with one rock. Yeah. Uh, depending on how hot it is outside Yeah. And just.
Nick Traeger (38:01):
Nick Johnson (38:01):
Um, or a splash of water like I do with scotch sometimes or
Nick Traeger (38:06):
Nick Johnson (38:06):
Something like that
Nick Traeger (38:07):
And, and I think that’s gonna play. Like what you’re saying is sort of the reason I’m obsessed with, you know, this is gonna be our, this will be a straight up gimlet.
Nick Johnson (38:16):
Nick Traeger (38:16):
So we obviously, you know, uh, the big rustica was a, was a, was a riff.
Nick Johnson (38:23):
Nick Traeger (38:23):
Uh, this will be like a right proper.
Nick Johnson (38:25):
Okay. Which is? Lime. Simple.
Nick Traeger (38:27):
Lime. Simple. Gin.
Nick Johnson (38:29):
Nick Traeger (38:29):
Shaken over ice. You, you get your water content. Um, and so the reality is like, these are sort of built so that you don’t, like, you don’t have to necessarily worry about going and getting fresh herbs or whatever it is from your garden, or go get lavender or go get whatever it is. Now, It’s like kind of built.
Nick Johnson (38:46):
It’s already in the gin.
Nick Traeger (38:47):
Really simple, accessible cocktail, um, that is complex and interesting. Um, so yeah. Like Well, I, I appreciate you saying that it’s a sipper. We’re actually like planning on kind of doing our tasting room in a way that you try in the cocktail.
Nick Johnson (39:03):
And did you say you’re gonna have cocktails on draft?
Nick Traeger (39:06):
We are, yeah. So that’s our model a little bit. Again, trying to be accessible is to sort of just be a place where you can come in, read a list, um, and just go “Cool. That sounds delicious”. We’re gonna keep them around 7%. One 7% like don’t wanna kill anybody. Don’t want have, we want you to sort of walk outta here feeling good. Um, and sort of that,
Nick Johnson (39:26):
But not too good.
Nick Traeger (39:26):
Nick Johnson (39:27):
Not that loopy. Yeah, yeah. I know what you mean.
Nick Traeger (39:30):
Uh, the good before it goes bad and so,
Nick Johnson (39:31):
Nick Traeger (39:32):
Uh, so like, we’re kind of going that direction, uh, for that purpose. And so, uh, most of our gins go that way. The other thing we’re working on, the other big obsession, which I should say, uh, the Fahrners, my business partner is kind of one of the sort of starting things that, you know, sent them down the rabbit hole of really wanting to start a distillery is, um, they went to Italy and you know, every day’s a stinking celebration there [laughter] and like, so like they have a very celebration-oriented family value, but they drink Amaro, [inaudible] spritz, Aperol Spritz all the time. So we actually are gonna have a small line of Amaros as well.
Nick Johnson (40:09):
Oh, fantastic. I love Amaros. But like, you’re gonna be distilling them.
Nick Traeger (40:13):
Yes, so we’re gonna be doing it top to bottom ourselves.
Nick Johnson (40:16):
I just got excited.
Nick Traeger (40:16):
We working on that right now. And so.
Nick Johnson (40:18):
this whole, uh, whole like January to about a month ago I was just drinking rye with a splash of montenegro
Nick Traeger (40:26):
Nick Johnson (40:27):
Was like my, that’s my drink at home.
Nick Traeger (40:28):
Nick Johnson (40:29):
Rye and Montenegro, which is one of which is an amaro that I love. Um, not a lot of people make amaros around here. Am I wrong about that?
Nick Traeger (40:35):
Almost no one makes amaros. Well, and it’s not a lot of people know what they.
Nick Johnson (40:38):
Yeah. So would you And I kind of, I know which I know what they are in the sense that I know where they are in the store and I like them.
Nick Traeger (40:45):
Nick Johnson (40:45):
If you were to ask me what are they scientifically? I would say good.
Nick Traeger (40:49):
Nick Johnson (40:51):
Yeah, so what, yeah, what is in amaro?
Nick Traeger (40:52):
So amaro, you know, based in Italy, they really are the Italian like cousins of schnapps or liqueur, right? So they’re usually started with some, uh, variety of herbs, uh, and bittering components, barks and things like that. Um, so they, you get a sort of a bitter maceration to start and then you um, you sweeten it lightly and you add your booze as well. Um, and so what you end up with is this like bracing bitterness front that gives way to a sweetness. So technically like vermouth is not not an amaro. You know, it’s, it’s sort of in that same family. And so, um, like all those things, so like campari is a popular one that’s Turkey rhubarb and citrus.
Nick Johnson (41:35):
Nick Traeger (41:37):
Aperols the big other one. So we’re actually like kind of formulating our first one
Nick Johnson (41:40):
Nick Traeger (41:41):
To be the Midwestern equivalent. So we’re actually including a little birch in it to kind of give it that root beer flavor a little bit. Uh, we’re also working on a fernet, um, riff, which is my favorite. Yeah. Um, as a, as a restaurant person. And then the last one will be, we’re actually working with Blue Mind Coffee roasters to do a coffee no chino.
Nick Johnson (42:00):
Nick Traeger (42:00):
Midwestern like walnuts.
Nick Johnson (42:02):
Yeah. That’s walnuts, right? No Chino’s walnuts. Okay. Fantastic.
Nick Traeger (42:05):
We’re sort of working on that. Podcasting, get that live shake.
Nick Johnson (42:09):
That is super exciting. So it’s like, it’s gotta be kind of fun right now being at the start of this business that the sky’s the limit, right. You can do whatever you want right now and like, I mean, obviously you’ve gotta make good business decisions and good and good creative decisions and.
Nick Traeger (42:25):
But it’s mostly play
Nick Johnson (42:27):
Yeah. Right now at the moment. And you’ll in a few years, you’ll know.
Nick Traeger (42:30):
Nick Johnson (42:30):
Which were the more successful rest. And maybe you guys will end up
Nick Traeger (42:33):
Nick Johnson (42:34):
Deciding we’re gonna, these amaros are big hits and maybe or something like that.
Nick Traeger (42:38):
And that’s, you know, our, our sort of widest plan is to kind of have the gins and the our canned cocktails, which we-Oh, that’s another thing I should talk about, um, is, uh, our gins and our canned cocktails will be our sort of widely distributed pieces. Um, as far as liquor stores and things like that. We’re, we’re gonna kind of go into the liqueurs, the creme de menthes. I want make a killer amaretto. Like that’s on my, that’s on my list because like.
Nick Johnson (43:06):
Nick Traeger (43:06):
People like, I kind of love a good amaretto drink.
Nick Johnson (43:11):
Um, Yeah. Okay.
Nick Traeger (43:11):
Anyway, so like, that’ll be our tasting room is to kind of fill out a full cocktail bar.
Nick Johnson (43:15):
Nick Traeger (43:17):
So this is a
Nick Johnson (43:18):
Are you taking request of things to make in the future?
Nick Traeger (43:20):
Yeah, go ahead. I mean, it’s early. It’s early enough that it’s possible.
Nick Johnson (43:23):
If I, I put something in your mind. Let me think about that. Just a sec. So this is just a straight gin gimlet with Big Heart, wild and floral gin.
Nick Traeger (43:30):
Nick Johnson (43:34):
Love it. That is very nice. I see what you mean. Like I’m getting lavender and stuff like that. But there’s no garnish in this. It’s, you just did three ingredients so people could.
Nick Traeger (43:44):
Nick Johnson (43:44):
People could make this very easily.
Nick Traeger (43:48):
Nick Johnson (43:49):
Um, at, at home. Like you don’t need, because things like, if you’re making cocktails at home, like, which I do fairly often, I tend to not have all the herbs because like.
Nick Traeger (43:57):
Nick Johnson (43:57):
You know, I make two that night. What? So I don’t need to have, don’t [laughter] have like tons of things.
Nick Traeger (44:03):
I don’t wanna spend $4 on one ounce of Paragon because I wanna make an interesting cocktail. 100%. And, and so like that’s our, that’s really what we’re trying to push with this. And then, and then really, and I think I started, I kind of mentioned this earlier, we’re trying to like mitigate the barrier of entry to cocktails for people. Especially by doing it on draft is to sort of simplify. You don’t necessarily have to know everything to feel and, and we’re gonna charge $12 for it necessarily. Like we’re trying to keep it so that you can understand it and kind of give people a craft entry to vermouth, a craft entry to amaro, a craft entry to gin where they feel like they understand it. Because I don’t know, the first time I went in and tried to buy a vermout I looked at the, I looked at things, I was like, I don’t know. Red, white, sweet, What? I don’t know what I’m supposed to buy. And so we’re like, that’s our sort of end game is to kind of be the people to be like “It’s gonna be okay”. [laughter] Here’s a vermouth that’s gonna work for most of your things. Try that and see where you wanna go from there.
Nick Johnson (45:01):
Do you guys, do you have any intentions of doing bitters or anything like that?
Nick Traeger (45:03):
Uh, we play around with it. We’ll, we’ll do it because of the way, um, our artisan distillers license, we have to serve what we make kind of a thing. I think bitters might be grandfathered into that, but we might as well.
Nick Johnson (45:13):
Nick Traeger (45:13):
It’s, it’s more fun to make it.
Nick Johnson (45:14):
Yeah. [laughter], why not make bitters?
Nick Traeger (45:18):
It’s on the list.
Nick Johnson (45:18):
Yeah. I’m trying to think of, uh, request. I, I thought of one, but there’s already a really good local one, which is absinthe. Uh, cause eighth day makes a fantastic absinthe.
Nick Traeger (45:28):
Killer absinthe, I’ve got a bottle at home.
Nick Johnson (45:30):
Okay, yeah. [laughter] I do too, actually.
Nick Traeger (45:32):
I’m on board.
Nick Johnson (45:32):
Um, and plus absinthe doesn’t, well other than like a sazerac is not a super common cocktail ingredient. Like, I tend to drink absolutely straight with like sugar or something, but.
Nick Traeger (45:40):
Absolutely. Um, I’m adding more boost to my cocktail cuz I, I want more.
Nick Johnson (45:44):
Nick Traeger (45:44):
I mean, cause you know, it’s not that early [laughter]
Nick Johnson (45:52):
This is really, this is delightful. This also makes me want to like stroll and look at gardens.
Nick Traeger (45:58):
Absolutely. Um, when we were developing this, this is a fun, uh, silly story. Dan, my business partner, uh, when he was describing how he wanted this one to face, he said, I wanted to be a baby in a meadow, can be naked if you want to be. [laughter] Completely, like innocently, just like dealer’s choice. Uh, and so that’s what, that was our, that was our end game with, uh, the big heart. How do, how do you get into that big wildflower pile. Yeah.
Nick Johnson (46:29):
So a piece actually already came to mind. Sorry to skip the adjective game.
Nick Traeger (46:32):
Nick Johnson (46:34):
Because you were talking about, I dunno, it’s because they’re celebrations or what, but, or the floral and for some reason I’m trying to figure it out. Maybe it’s the line that this made me think of West Side story.
Nick Traeger (46:47):
Nick Johnson (46:48):
I don’t really know why. Maybe you can help me figure it out why you did. But there’s something about the like, I mean that, that takes place in the summer and I mean, I’m more familiar with the, the movie version that came out like in the what, fifties or something.
Nick Traeger (46:59):
Nick Johnson (46:59):
And then I know there was one just last year that I haven’t actually seen yet.
Nick Traeger (47:02):
Yeah, I haven’t either. I think I started it and didn’t finish it. Sorry, Steven.
Nick Johnson (47:06):
Oh, that’s okay. [laughter] But I mean, the music is beautiful. Oh, for the, for the whole work. Um, for something, uh, I feel like the mambo. There’s something about that. I think it’s because it’s big and bold. That that’s what it is. Big and bold, which with which the gin is big and bold because with the floral notes and not in a, in a cocktails, not in an overshadowing way, it’s in the way that you’re talking about that it’s actually like, “Hey, you don’t actually need to buy lavender at the store”. You’re still gonna get those notes. So it’s big enough to stand up to a cocktail. Right. Um, to stand up to the, cause you know, you, you put like, what six lines in that? Like.
Nick Traeger (47:43):
Absolutely, we went hard into this at this game. I love it.
Nick Johnson (47:47):
And so it takes a, it takes a little bit of a bigger gin to sort of play ball with that and not just get completely dwarfed. But I’m totally still picking up the floral notes, um, in a, in a really nice way that it’s not just a, you know, sometimes if you make a gimlet with a, at the really kind of lower shelf gin, you don’t actually taste the gin. You’re just tasting.
Nick Traeger (48:06):
At most, you get a little juniper. But it’s just like, maybe just bitter.
Nick Johnson (48:09):
Yeah. But this, I think it’s something about the, the big. So Okay. Let, let’s listen to Leonard Bernstein’s Mambo from West Side Story and let’s see if I did okay with this one. All right.
Nick Traeger (48:18):
Nick Johnson (48:19):
Music Plays (50:24):
[Mambo from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein]
Nick Johnson (50:24):
All right, Nick, So what do you think of Bernstein?
Nick Traeger (50:26):
Perfect, I mean, was there like, it’s like that perfect spring summer dance. I mean, if you want to like, get super down into it, flower in your hair from the, from the pedal in the middle, come on. Like the dancing and I mean like realistically like a gimlet inherently is not that different from a margarita.
Nick Johnson (50:42):
Nick Traeger (50:43):
Like it plays in the same sort of field, especially when you make it pretty citrus forward, it’s pretty lime forward. That’s rad. That’s Perfect.
Nick Johnson (50:49):
Okay, Thank you. Yeah, and I felt, I wonder also because maybe we’re just, we’re in this large room that it made me just think of like dancehall of vibe.
Nick Traeger (50:55):
Yeah. Gym, right? Yeah.
Nick Johnson (50:56):
Yeah. Um, do you guys think you’re gonna have events in this space? Like.
Nick Traeger (50:59):
Hoping to, Um, so we’re kind of building in this corner that the listener can’t see. We’re go, that I’m pointing to, uh, we’re actually gonna have a, like a small private event space, but we’re actually gonna kind of double use that for music.
Nick Johnson (51:10):
Oh, okay. Great. I was gonna ask if you, if you’re planning on having some live music. At the moment, It’s a little live in here.
Nick Traeger (51:15):
It’s a little, little boomy. Uh, some vocal groups, some, some, uh, barbershop quartets love that.
Nick Johnson (51:20):
Yeah, That’s true.
Nick Traeger (51:22):
Um, but we’ll, uh, we’re planning to cause Dan, my business partner, Dan Farner, was actually a drummer in Ever Best the Dead Beats and was like a touring drummer for years. And he and I are actually in a band together locally as well. And so we’re like, it’s kind of like this, like, “Oh yeah, we also love live music. So we should have a space for that.”
Nick Johnson (51:39):
That’d be great.
Nick Traeger (51:39):
So kind of tucked into that corner, planning on doing.
Nick Johnson (51:41):
Maybe we’ll to talk to y’all about doing a live event here someday for pairings.
Nick Traeger (51:44):
Nick Johnson (51:44):
But yeah, we, we’ll, we’ll we’ll get there.
Nick Traeger (51:45):
I love that.
Nick Johnson (51:46):
But, uh, [laughter] Yeah. This is, well I am, I am very excited about this spot opening up. Um, and the fact that as soon as next month I can start poking around in stores for.
Nick Traeger (51:56):
Nick Johnson (51:57):
Uh, how many canned cocktails are you gonna have?
Nick Traeger (51:59):
Oh, thank you for bringing that up. So, yeah, we’ll we’re starting with our sort of fair-friendly, uh, lemon shake up. So you’ll-
Nick Johnson (52:05):
Which by the way, you gave me a taste of and is delicious, just so the listeners know that it has the,
Nick Traeger (52:09):
I love that thing
Nick Johnson (52:11):
Dr. Nick Johnson stamp of approval, but go ahead [laughter].
Nick Traeger (52:13):
I love it. Um, so yeah, you’ll see, you’ll see that can first. That’ll be our first one released, uh, with the twin gins. And that’ll be out, you know, late May, early June. Um, and so that’ll be number one. And then following up, we haven’t released this out to the public yet, but there will be a coffee and creme de menthe canned cocktail. And then there will actually be our riff on an amaro spritz, which we talked a little bit earlier, which is actually like an amaro spiked orange soda. So kind playing that aperol with a big orange wedge in it. So it’s kind of a bitter
Nick Johnson (52:45):
And and bubbly cause I got an aperol spritz has what? Champagne in it.
Nick Traeger (52:47):
Nick Johnson (52:48):
Nick Traeger (52:48):
Very bubbly. So it’s gonna be that kind of like, that’ll be our still accessible cause that’s who we want to be, but kind of more into the you if you want an amaro cocktail. That’s, that’s your, that’s your game. That’s your play.
Nick Johnson (52:59):
Okay. Fantastic. And you said that one will be out more like later, later summer.
Nick Traeger (53:03):
Yep, probably, yeah. So we’ll, we’ll start with these three first and then certain, certainly before we open, we’ll have those last two and, and to the world.
Nick Johnson (53:12):
Okay. Fantastic. Why the name Hi and Mighty?
Nick Traeger (53:16):
Uh, it’s cute. Uh, honestly,
Nick Johnson (53:19):
I like it. I’m just curious.
Nick Traeger (53:20):
No, it’s, it’s really funny.
Nick Johnson (53:21):
Everything else seems to have like a story.
Nick Traeger (53:22):
Everything’s been very intentional and this is realistically just us kind of going through the process with Amy from Matinee of just going like, we just want to feel a little like playful and midwestern. And like just sort of that like, think you’re a little high and mighty, like just being a little playful, picking fun at somebody. Um, and it’s kind of that little turn because we’re trying to be super accessible. So like, obviously, you know, if you guys look at our website or our Instagram at Hi and Mighty at drink Hi and Mighty, like you’ll kind of see all of our art is very celebratory, it’s fireworks, it’s flags. It’s this big vibrant celebratory sort of vibe. And so it is just this like juxtaposition of saying it’s high and mighty is kind of funny.
Nick Johnson (54:03):
Okay, yeah. No, I like it. Do you wanna know what my guess was?
Nick Traeger (54:06):
Go for it.
Nick Johnson (54:07):
That it was a riff off of the name, a name of a ride at the fair.
Nick Traeger (54:10):
Oh, that would’ve.
Nick Johnson (54:11):
That like, there there’s like a roller coaster called the high and mighty maybe or something. You’re welcome to have that.
Nick Traeger (54:16):
We’ll sponsor one, uh, in 2030.
Nick Johnson (54:18):
Okay, very good. A high and mighty roller coaster
Nick Traeger (54:20):
When we break even
Nick Johnson (54:21):
One of those things that like put people in the air spin and stuff. Right, It’s called the high and mighty.
Nick Traeger (54:24):
Nick Johnson (54:25):
I thought maybe that’s what it came from actually.
Nick Traeger (54:28):
We’ll, we’ll just the producer and post, we’ll just go ahead and say that. [laughter] No, no one fact. no one fact check it.
Nick Johnson (54:34):
That’s fine. Well Nick, I’ve had such a pleasure, uh, learning all about the creative process here at Hi and Mighty. Um, and seeing what is, I, I’m super excited to come back here in, in a few months and see what has happened to this space. Um, cause there is, it’s just a canvas of potential here. Um, and you’ve already got the spirits like, and these, these are fantastic. Everything I’ve, I’ve tasted here is is very good work.
Nick Traeger (54:57):
Nick Johnson (54:58):
Um, and I would even say, to be totally honest, of all the spirits, gin is my fifth favorite. Like, uh, but I really like these. I’m just saying like, I’m a but, but it’s not that I don’t like gin.
Nick Traeger (55:09):
You’re a barrel boy.
Nick Johnson (55:11):
Yes. I, I’m, I’m like a, like a I would go bourbon, scotch then rye.
Nick Traeger (55:16):
Nick Johnson (55:16):
And maybe next, maybe gin
Nick Traeger (55:18):
Someday I’ll invite you over and we’ll have a brandy day.
Nick Johnson (55:21):
Ooh, That sounds good.
Nick Traeger (55:22):
Cause I think, I think, I think you’ll go down the brandy in cognac rabbit hole and it’s more affordable now than bourbon, so.
Nick Johnson (55:27):
Yeah, Yeah, that’s true [laughter] and I got like a lot of rums don’t, like I love gin. If you were to go to my house right now, there’s five bottles of gin, you’re fine. I’m just saying that like
Nick Traeger (55:35):
We’ll be the one that you like.
Nick Johnson (55:36):
Yeah, maybe [laughter] Yeah. Um, so I’m, what I mean by that is I, I’m, I’m saying that these are really fantastic and I am, um, tend to veer towards the brown spirits.
Nick Traeger (55:49):
I love it.
Nick Johnson (55:50):
Um, as a bearded Midwesterner, but I like that you’re making another offer here. [laughter]
Nick Traeger (55:55):
We’ll convert you [laughter].
Nick Johnson (55:56):
That sounds great. So, okay, you said, uh, follow you on social, your website’s up and running.
Nick Traeger (56:00):
Website’s up and running. Drink Hi and Mighty everywhere.
Nick Johnson (56:02):
Okay, fantastic. So be looking for it. And local liquor stores, uh, look for it when you come to the fair, uh, this, uh, August and be keeping an eye out for all sorts of fun events and things happening here. So thank you so much, Nick. This has been an absolute pleasure. Cheers.
Nick Traeger (56:16):
Nick Johnson (56:18):
Classical Pairings, as a listener supported podcast, please support us by texting the word PAIR or P A I R to 2028581233 to help us keep bringing you the best craft food and beverage makers paired with classical music. Classical Pairing is a production of Classical Music Indy and our producer is Daniel Porter. I hope you’ll join me for Classical Pairings Live, an event series presented by the National Bank of Indianapolis beginning in August. Each Classical Pairings Live is hosted by a local food and beverage partner where you’ll sample great food and beverage paired with live music by talented local artists. And you can find out more about our next Classical Pairings Live event at classicalmusicindy.org. So cheers and I’ll see you next time!
In this week’s playlist, we celebrate Black Music Month which takes place in June. It was created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to honor and celebrate Black artists’ contributions to music. We’ll be honoring the late Herman Whitfield III, an Indianapolis native who was a gifted pianist and composer. We’ll also hear performances of artists who have been featured in season four of Classical Music Indy’s podcast, Melanated Moments in Classical Music.
In this week’s Black History Month playlist, we bring you recordings by composers, performers, and artists who have been highlighted in our podcast, Melanated Moments in Classical Music. Melanated Moments is the ward-winning podcast from Classical Music Indy that shines a spotlight on musical works composed by, for, and about Black people.
Moses Hogan: A Bridge That Can …
Ric’key Pageot: Inspiring a Mo …
In this week’s Local Classical channel, we’ll be highlighting local Indianapolis musician, Mark Ortwein. Mark is a bassoonist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, but his talents don’t stop at bassoon since he is also a sought-after instrumental doubler. Over the last 20 years, Mark has performed in many different musical projects including professional recordings, musical theater, chamber ensembles, jazz, and R&B groups, as well as many orchestral performances, including being a member of the Saxophone section for the Cincinnati Pops under Erich Kunzel.
Laura Karpman: Catch the Fire …
This week we bring you the music of Dr. Bill Banfield. Dr. Banfield is an award-winning composer whose symphonies, operas, chamber works have been performed and recorded by major symphonies across the country. Few have a wider, performed professional composing output, that has had public concert performances, reviews, radio, recordings of some 12 symphonies, 7 opera, 9 concerti, chamber, jazz, and popular forms. This alone making Dr. Banfield one of the most performed, recorded composers of his generation. In 2010 and 2016, Dr. Banfield served as a Pulitzer Prize judge in American music.
In this week’s playlist, we feature the music that was highlighted in the latest installment of Classical Pairings Host Challenge. Beginning mid-November 2020, a different Indianapolis arts leader challenged host Nicholas Johnson with a piece of music to pair with a cocktail, using a local spirit.
This is not a story to pass on …
Turn an ear to podcast host an …
Angela Brown brings her unbrid …
We continue our Black History Month programming this week with our featured artist, soprano Angela Brown. Born in Indianapolis, Brown has led a world-renowned career as a vocal soloist. Her highly successful Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Aida captured instant attention from international print and broadcast media and catapulted Angela onto the world’s prestigious opera and symphonic stages.
Indianapolis has a robust local classical music scene, worthy of being treasured as one of our city’s defining assets. And with NOTE, Classical Music Indy aims to tell stories that will delight and surprise avid classical fans, as well as welcome those new to the world of classical music. For this first issue, we chose to feature Women in Music, to celebrate local influencers past and present that have made stunning accomplishments not only with their talent, but also with their leadership in the genre.