Ringing the Bell with High Spirits

Local distillery Toledo Spirits takes over the boutique cocktail bar experience with Bellwether

The Vistula neighborhood along North Summit Street is home to some of Toledo’s gems. The aged industrial section of townhouses more than Toledo’s oldest neighborhood.

At 1301 North Summit Street, Toledo Spirits, a local distillery, has made a name for itself with highly innovative craft liqueurs. “We started this project in 2013 and by 2014 we got our license”, says CEO and co-founder Andrew Newby. By the summer of 2015, they were selling out of their barrel-aged Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a hops-flavored whiskey.

Enter Bellwether

On May 16th, Toledo Spirits opened the doors to Bellwether— a cocktail bar in the distillery that serves as an outlet for their creations. “Reception has been great,” says Newby. “Toledo is starving for more places where it’s all about the cocktail.” Their aim, he explains, is to “Set new standards for the cocktail experience – everything from the glass to the ice and where the ingredients come from and how they’re handled.”

Having the distillery on site gives them an edge when it comes to the cocktails they create. “We think about our spirits in terms of the cocktail – the ingredients that we want to see in the drinks, we’ll use when we make the spirits”, says Newby. “For us, it’s all about how we can elevate the cocktail scene.”

Meaningfully sourced

Apples from Macqueen’s, herbs from Herbaceous, and grain from Shared Legacy, among many others, are some of the locally sourced ingredients. However, Newby explains that “It’s not local for the sake of being local; it’s more like ‘hey, this person is growing organic rye, what can we do with that?’” This method is what makes their product stand on the top shelf. Their strawberry vodka, Heart of Glass, for example, “It is so awesome because strawberries from Northwest Ohio are extremely unique,” says Newby.

A little help from our friends

In order to pull this off, Toledo Spirits brought in two individuals well-versed from the local bar scene. Bar manager Adam Sattler is in charge of overseeing operations— from co-creating menu items to make sure that guests have a great experience. And seasoned bartender and world traveler Dan Phillips takes the lead behind the bar.

“We really liked what these guys have been doing around town, elevating the bar scene on Adams Street, so we brought them in before we even opened to help set the standard and move the idea and style of Bellwether forward,” says Newby. “I’m continually impressed with them and everyone on the team and their level of professionalism.

With a side of music

Bellwether is also booking some music to round out the experience. Cellist Jordan Hamilton of Southwest Michigan performs on July 17th. “We also want to be known as the space that houses some lo-fi, acid jazz types of music,” says Newby. The role of the sound plays into the atmosphere of the space.

For more info and to keep up with Bellwether, visit toledospirits.com