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Dorcol Distilling Company

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Dorćol Expanding Facility, Distilling and Brewing Capacity

Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co. (Door-chol) of San Antonio, Texas is a small craft spirits and beer maker on a quiet roll. Founded in December of 2013, the distillery’s inaugural spirit, Kinsman Rakia, an apricot brandy with Balkan origins, has been named both the highest rated American brandy (Gold - Chicago, 2014) as well as the world’s highest rated brandy, non-Cognac, (Gold, Best in Category - Los Angeles, 2016) in the three short years since its opening. Yet unless you are in the scene, or paying close attention, you’ve probably never heard of them, despite features in national publications like Playboy and Wine Enthusiast.

Inspired by one of the co-founder’s family’s countryside wine making and distilling tradition in his native Serbia and Croatia, Texas’ first post-Prohibition brandy distillery expanded its spirits production in 2015 to include a Texas-grown grape brandy, first aged in medium toast French-oak barrels and currently finishing in Sherry casks, as well as a single malt whisk(e)y, turning two in their used brandy barrels, similar to Scotch whiskies in the pre-Bourbon era which were often aged in Cognac barrels. This still young, but beautifully maturing single malt whiskey is showing signs of incredibly complex flavors and rich aromas.

Dorcol Distilling + Brewing Co - San Antonio, Texas (2013)

Dorcol Distilling + Brewing Co - San Antonio, Texas (2013)

The team’s old-World distillation philosophy of using only direct-heat copper pot stills and their choice of aging casks hasn’t helped them on the bottom-line, but it seems to be the right choice in standing out from the sea of mediocrity often found in today’s “craft” spirits.

Expanding into distilling grains, Dorćol introduced HighWheel beers at their two-year anniversary celebration in December 2015. Their four staples, a Kolsch, Saison, Porter and an IPA, are joined by their seasonally brewed Brewer’s Keep series, which has seen the return of the Dunkelweizen for Oktoberfest, along with an Irish Red Ale and a Hefeweizen as the spring and summer seasonals respectively.

“We think that the continued growth we experience comes down to two things,” says Boyan Kalusevic, one of Dorćol’s co-founders, “putting everything we have into making the finest spirits and beers possible, and building relationships with the very best barmen who love what we do.”

In a little more than three years since launch, Dorćol’s spirits and beers are now sold at over a hundred on- and off-premise outlets with the company looking to expand its footprint in each of the major Texas markets. Keeping up with current demand while preparing for expected growth in the number of on-premise outlets across the region is proving to be no easy task for the small team.

Architectural rendering of the tasting-room expansion project

Adding a Second Bar

All this growth required additional space and equipment. As if the production growth and investment weren’t enough for this Texas craft distillery and brewery, Dorćol continues its upward trajectory by doubling down on its arts-centric neighborhood and reinvesting in the Southtown facility by expanding the on-site tasting room and adding a second bar.

San Antonio’s building department recently approved plans and issued construction permits for the use of modified shipping containers for the second bar, as well as a roof structure over the patio; a much desired improvement if you’ve ever visited the downtown cocktail and beer bar on either a summer afternoon or a busy service night. Guests will appreciate both additions to this gem.

Tripling Distilling Capacity

The addition of a second still, a Serbian-made 750-liter direct-heat copper pot, is anticipated to be put on-line by the end of 2017, with their goals for 2018 to include both the introduction of their much-anticipated barrel aged spirits, as well as the ramped up production of new products.

Visiting our third generation copper-smiths, CUPRUM, in Serbia

100% Increase in Brewing Capacity

Dorćol is also adding a 21-barrel fermenter to their brewing capacity. The recently delivered fermenter is in the process of being installed, with the team hoping to have it fully integrated in the brewing operation over the next several weeks.

Arrival of Dorćol’s newest 21 barrel fermenter by BrewBuilt Mfg from California.

“A lot of moving parts come together over the last couple years, from the roll-out of our beer brand to the growing adoption of our spirit at the State’s finest bar programs. It’s been an impressive growth for Dorćol and the pace shows no signs of slowing into 2018,” adds Kalusevic. “We are doubling our fermentation capacity, adding a second custom still to ease the distilling bottleneck, and about to break ground on more on-site space in order to really prepare for the kind of business expansion that our investment in production will afford us. We are very excited, and can’t thank all our fans enough for the continued support.”

Dorćol’s Kinsman Rakia is available Texas-wide with more markets planned for 2018. Expanded distribution of HighWheel beer is planned for mid-2018. Dorćol is located in Southtown, a San Antonio, Texas arts neighborhood south of downtown.

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Behind the bar with Olaf Harmel

 

When Olaf Harmel arrived to San Antonio, he got here at a time when the craft cocktail revival was in its infancy. All these years later, the longtime barman is gearing up to relocate from his modest upstairs bar at Bluebox to Brigid, a modern American restaurant expected to open soon in Southtown, where Harmel will run a more culinary-driven cocktail menu. At the bar, Harmel said he wants to circulate spirits regularly to accommodate the always-changing food menu. Still, the one bottle he always wants to have on hand is Kinsman Rakia. 

How did you get into bartending? 

I didn't do it intentionally. A friend of mine opened a bar in Corpus Christi and I helped run the bar for awhile. But I needed to learn how to bartend. So I read a lot and applied myself. When I came to San Antonio I had to be full on focused. You can't be a bar manager without knowing how to bartend. 

What makes Kinsman Rakia an interesting spirit to use in cocktails? 

It's one of those spirits that elevates people. It's just so unique that it broadens people's drinking perspective. It has a unique flavor and texture but still has some heat to it. I love products that have a full-flavor profile. As a bartender I enjoy being in a position of introducing people to new things they haven't had before. 

What ingredients play well with the spirit? 

Gin, citrus go well with it. Raspberries, plums, grapefruit, mandarin, ginger. It blends really well with almonds, basil, pretty much anything that goes well with apricots. Just a small amount of Kinsman will enhance the cocktail. It's very supple. It's a year-round spirit you can use to make refreshing, luscious cocktails. 

Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company

Sunshine Daydream

1 1/4 ounces Kinsman Rakia

1/4 ounce apricot liqueur

1/4 ounce Amaretto

1 ounce cranberry juice

1/4 ounce lemon juice

Peach, quartered

Instructions: Lightly muddle peach quarter in the bottom of a rocks glass. Set aside. Assemble remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain cocktail into the rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with peach slices and blackberry. 

Cocktail by Olaf Harmel of Blue Box

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Second Saturday on South Flores

If you haven’t experienced Second Saturday you’re missing out on one hell of a party. 

The monthly event showcases artists, musicians, food trucks and, of course, we’re always jamming behind the bar at Dorćol where we mix more than 30 different craft cocktails with our award winning spirit. 

But let me further explain for those who aren’t up to speed with all this. Each month, Second Saturday attracts hundreds to the art district south of downtown, one of San Antonio’s oldest communities located just south of King William. Artists from around the city, nation and world show off their talents at galleries situated inside warehouses along S. Flores Street. For more info about what’s going down at the art galleries click here and here

“The art is the anchor,” said Bill Fitzgibbons, who owns Lone Star Studios, an art warehouse at 107 Lone Star, which houses his own studio, Dock Space Gallery, along with Gallista Gallery and Gallery 107. “Going forward our motivation is to add artists.” 

At the distillery, 1902 S. Flores St., we’ll have an art installation by a local artist, a DJ spinning tunes all night and killer libations for all you tipplers looking to get your drink on. On Saturday, we’ll be open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. For the event, we’ll host guest barman, Don Marsh of Bar 1919, and we're gonna try some new bar creations. The food truck for the night will be Ay Papi’s, which does some on-point Puerto Rican cuisine. The DJ for the night is Matt Champion and Jorge Villarreal will have some of his work hanging in the distillery. See what we’re doing at Dorćol.

While the party only encompasses a few blocks, there’s a pulsating energy and gritty sophistication that emanates from this vibrant, eclectic community. Heck, the neighborhood is inhabited by artists, journalists, distillers, brewers, architects, business professionals and families who have lived here generations. 

Each Second Saturday we are seeing "fresh faces from all over the city,” said Yvette Benavides, of 1906 Gallery, an 18,000 square foot warehouse that houses art studios such as Gravelmouth, AP Art Lab and Silkworm.

Second Saturday Art Walk

5 p.m.-1 a.m. on June 13 at various spots near S. Flores St. and Lone Star Blvd.

While you are enjoying the craft libations and delicious eats at the distillery, make sure to visit all our friends in the area.

Cheers. 

Valentino

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