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New hire spreading Dorcol gospel

Jessica Elizarraras, Dorcol Distilling + Brewing Company

Jessica Elizarraras, Dorcol Distilling + Brewing Company

Showing our affinity for journalists, we are announcing our hire of one of the city’s most followed foodies Jessica Elizarraras, the former food and nightlife editor at the San Antonio Current.

For more than 10 years, the Texas native has crafted stories about the food and drink scene for a ream of publications, including the San Antonio Express-News, Bon Appétit, Eater and Texas Monthly. As the newest addition to our small team at Dorćol, Jessica will focus on spreading the news for our award-winning brewery and distillery, as we set to celebrate our fifth year this December 15th.

As the company’s Chief Engagement Officer, the former journalist will be seen around Texas spreading our gospel. A recent member of the Les Dames d’ Escoffier, a group of women leaders in the food and drink industry, Jessica got a taste of being asked questions from a nosey writer, who in his past life used to sling Kinsman cocktails and pour HighWheel brews at Dorćol.

After more than a decade as a journalist, why the change?

I want to explore a more social role in this industry. These days, being in journalism for 10 years is pretty successful. I wanted to go out and see what else I can be successful at.

You’ve spent most of your career documenting San Antonio’s growing food and drink scene, which has come a long way over the last few years. Where do you see it going from here?

When San Antonio finds something it likes, it commits to it. More and more people find they like good food and good drinks and they like supporting local. As long as San Antonio can continue to support its local spots, the scene will continue to grow. We are no longer just a margarita city. I love having been part of the evolution of our food and drink scene and am really excited to continue sharing Dorćol’s story and contribution in shaping it.

Where does Dorćol fit in the city’s continuously developing scene?

Their story is so unique. They have this amazing brandy that you don’t see anywhere else in Texas or the nation. Just like the local scene, they’re creating something special and they continue to grow.

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Do you remember the first time you visited Dorćol?

It opened around the same time I started at the Current. I had heard about what they were doing but I had to see it for myself. I remember venturing into this random place in an obscure part of downtown along South Flores. It was like a Willy Wonka situation, two dudes making this smooth spirit no one can pronounce but that’s so magically flavorful that it goes with everything. It’s pretty special.

Where does Kinsman fit in the spirits scene?

It’s different and so versatile, lending itself to be used in so many creative ways. It’s playful and adventurous. Knowing that it’s local, it’s so much fun seeing it develop in the hands of some of the state’s top bartenders. Watching them use it to enhance classics or to create something totally new has been a treat.

What’s your favorite Rakia drink?

I loved the Clear Skies Ahead. I love the way it’s used in the Brandy Alexander. If you think Brandy Alexander in San Antonio, you better think Rakia.

When it comes to craft beer, a lot of breweries seem to go over the top with ingredients. What do you think about Dorćol’s HighWheel sticking to classic styles?

When it comes to craft beer, people seem to always look for the extreme. But there’s something to be said about perfectly crafted beer.

How would you describe Dorćol to someone who hasn’t visited?

It’s truly a neighborhood bar. You’re going to get quality every single time, whether it’s a cocktail or beer. What it has going for it, is that it’s so inviting. No matter if you’ve been once or all the time, you can’t help but to feel like a regular. You’re going to have a good time.

Any final thoughts about your new role?

I got into journalism for the storytelling. I wanted to ask the questions and inform people about what was happening in their community. I’m not going to stop doing that. I’ll still be telling stories at Dorćol, telling people that along South Flores there’s this evolving scene anchored by this special place doing amazing things. 

- Valentino Lucio

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Fritts: the new face at Dorćol

Eric Fritts ( Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co., Chavis Barron )

Eric Fritts (Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co., Chavis Barron)

On the cusp of celebrating our fifth anniversary, Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Company has added a new face to the award-winning bar program. Starting today, Eric Fritts (just call him Fritts) is the team’s newest barman. Joining us from Paramour, he will run day-to-day operations at the South Flores tasting room and lead the creative direction for the spot’s robust cocktail menu. The Connecticut native has worked in the San Antonio bar scene for years. He got his start in scrappy dive bars and eventually worked his way into respected craft cocktails joints, learning the ins and outs of the craft. Aside from slinging cocktails and pouring beers, he’ll be helping to grow the Kinsman and HighWheel brands as a Brand Ambassador.

As a previous barkeep familiar with Dorćol from the start, I sat down with Fritts to chat about his new role at Dorćol, thoughts on the craft beer scene, and his take on using our award-winning apricot brandy. Let’s see what's in store:

Barmen usually have several base spirits to work with when slinging cocktails. What are your thoughts now that you only get to use one?

It’s exciting. I like that we feature just one spirit because I know the goal of every drink. Every cocktail that comes from behind this bar will feature Kinsman and feature it well.

How would you describe Kinsman’s versatility?

It’s only going to add to a cocktail and never take away anything from it. You can use it in a variety of cocktails and it’s going to compliment and accentuate the drink. As the main feature of a cocktail, you can’t go wrong. Kinsman is always going to make whatever you're concocting better. I like that it’s apricot based, which is something you don’t see everyday. I like that it’s unique and there’s nothing else out there like it. A spirit can be iconic because of the story it was inspired from. This spirit has a great family history and it’s part of what makes it special.

As the creative force behind the bar, what are your plans for the cocktail program?

I’m excited to come in and work to develop my own drinks and use such a great spirit while doing it. I want to develop different syrups, shrubs, and tinctures to compliment the brandy and not overwhelm it. I’ve worked with so many great mentors. I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and really create something special. But really, I want to help further establish and grow the identity of our brands.

What are your thoughts on HighWheel’s place in the craft beer scene?

There’s so much more to craft beer than hoppy IPAs and artificial flavorings. I think most breweries don’t get that. IPAs are great, I personally love the one we have, but you don’t need nine of them. I love that we take it back to the beginning, embracing the classic styles. It’s handcrafted beer, but it’s not pretentious, it’s not excessive flavors for the sake of excessive flavors. It’s just really good beer.

Aside from the gig behind the bar, what else excites you about this opportunity?

I’m excited to experience the entire process, both spirits and beer, getting out from behind the bar and help grow a brand beyond the tasting room. I’ve been behind the bar for six years and now it’s exciting to have the opportunity to sell beer and spirits in another way. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, so I’m ready to learn everything from production, to sales, to consumption.

What can people expect with you behind the bar?

I always want to make sure you’re going to have a good time. That’s the whole point. You’re coming here to relax and enjoy yourself. Every time I get back here I’m ready to have fun. This is my passion. I enjoy this. I want to make drinks people will really enjoy and develop a relationship with them over time. I want to be their bartender.

Describe your approach to cocktail making?

It’s versatile and quick. I like to adapt to each guest and make sure I give them what they are looking for.

How would you describe Dorćol to someone who hasn’t visited?

You have to know it to find it. There’s relaxed identity here. The whole place has this cool industrial feel that’s refined, but not pretentious. It exemplifies the spirit it was inspired by. We are makers of the world's highest-rated brandy, that needs to be shared. 

Where does brandy fit into the craft cocktail scene?

Brandy is one of the oldest spirits and it's starting to re-emerge in its own niche. Not many people know brandy was America's original spirit, long before whiskey and vodka, so it’s going to take a little education, but that’s part of the fun. We’re bringing something different to the table and that changes things.

 

by Valentino Lucio

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Piatti

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  Piatti

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  Piatti

Piatti is well known for serving up Italian-inspired fare at both it's Quarry and Eilan locations.  Lucky for us, they're both also participating in this year's Brandy Alexander Cocktail tour with two unique and imaginative takes on the classic.   

Concocted by Beverage Director Matt Collett, both takes enhance the original with the addition of white chocolate and an espresso liqueur, respectively.  Whether you're a fan of chocolate, coffee, or both, you won't want to miss what Matt put together for a perfect after-meal libation. 

PIATTI AT THE QUARRY // DANDY ALEXANDER

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 1/4 oz. Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

1 1/4 oz. aromatized heavy cream (pink peppercorn, clove, cinnamon)

1 drop of tiki bitters

Rim coupe with chocolate ganache. Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake.  Double strain into coupe and top with freshly-ground pink peppercorn.

 

PIATTI AT THE EILAN // CAFFE ALEXANDER

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. Caffe Broghetti

1 oz. heavy cream

1/2 oz. Lazzaroni Amaretto 

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake. Strain into coupe and garnish with ground cinnamon dust

Dorcol Distilling Co.:  Piatti

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Bite

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  Bite

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  Bite

This eclectic restaurant is well known for pouring creativity into everything that they do.  From the art on the walls to the food on your plate, Chef Lisa Astorga-Watel has created a fun and unique culinary experience in the heart of Southtown. 

Bite's Alexander Frappe is a perfect example of this creativity.  This rich and creamy cocktail features an entire scoop of pistachio gelato to go along with crushed pistachios on the rim.  Whether you eat the gelato or let it melt into the cocktail, there's no wrong way to savor Bite's take on the classic Brandy Alexander.  

 

Bite // Bite's Alexander Frappe

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. crème de cacao

1 pistachio gelato scoop

1 oz. heavy cream

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake. Double strain into a coup with a finely crushed pistachio rim

Dorcol Distilling Co.:  Bite

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Brooklynite

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Brooklynite

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Brooklynite

This stylish cocktail joint has long been a local favorite for their playful twists on classic cocktails. The BKSA Alexander is no exception with the team over at Brooklynite throwing golden grahams into the mix. 

This decadent cocktail boasts notes of honey, nuts and vanilla and has a silky mouth feel.  If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, the BKSA Alexander has you covered.  

 

BROOKLYNITE // BKSA ALEXANDER

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1/4 oz. white chocolate macadamia nut liqueur

1 oz. house cereal milk (rice, almond, heavy cream infused with golden grahams)

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake. Double strain into a coup

Dorcol Distilling Co.:  The Brooklynite

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: George's Keep

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  George's Keep

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  George's Keep

Nick Kenna’s no stranger to the cocktail scene. Having opened Dorćol’s bar program in 2013, he’s no stranger to Kinsman either. A veteran of the Kinsman Brandy Alexander Cocktail tour he continues to raise the bar with his creative take on this classic libation.

Nick's imagination is front and center in this year’s version which boasts hints of spice and perfectly balanced notes of mint and vanilla.  Experiencing this cocktail is definitely worth the drive up north.  

 

GEORGE’S KEEP // YORK PEPPERMINT PAPI

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

3/4 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

1/4 oz. orgeat

1 oz. mint and serrano pepper house-infused vanilla almond milk 

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake. Double strain into a coup. Garnish with bakers chocolate shavings and a mint leaf.

Dorcol Distilling Co.:  George's Keep

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Rosella at the Rand

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  Rosella at the Rand

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour:  Rosella at the Rand

With barman Jesse Torres at the reins of this freshly minted Houston Street eatery's beverage program, the bar is poised for success in creativity and execution alike.

Rosella at the Rand's inaugural participation in this year's Kinsman Brandy Alexander Tour is presented with a berry twist - a refreshingly light and airy take on the classic. Equal parts a well built cocktail and a good ol' fashioned "adult" strawberry shake, this rendition with a cute name is a must on your Tour stop. 

 

ROSELLA AT THE RAND // APRICOT ME BY SURPRISE

1 1/2 oz. Kinsman Rakia

3/4 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

1 oz. heavy cream

1 strawberry

Muddle a strawberry in a tin. Combine remaining ingredients in the tin and add ice.  Shake.  Double strain into a coupe lined with house-made chocolate ganache on the inside. Garnish with a fresh strawberry slice.

Dorcol Distilling Co.:  Rosella at the Rand

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Juniper Tar

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Juniper Tar

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Juniper Tar

The barman behind this swanky downtown cocktail lounge is well known for his fun and imaginative cocktails.  It's no surprise then that Benjamin Krick's take on this classic strays slightly off the beaten path. 

Served over crushed ice and including a spiced rum cream liqueur, the Kinsman Brandy Alexander has a nutty, butterscotch flavor that takes even the most avid Brandy Alexander enthusiast by surprise.  A trip downtown is well worth the smile this cocktail will put on your face.  

 

JUNIPER TAR // KINSMAN BRANDY ALEXANDER

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. Kringle Cream

1/2 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice.  Shake.  Strain into a rocks glass over crushed ice. Dust with Abuelita chocolate for garnish.

 

Dorcol Distilling Co.: Juniper Tar

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Hoppy Monk

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Hoppy Monk

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: The Hoppy Monk

While The Hoppy Monk is often recognized for a broad beer selection, their spirit offering is as creative and diverse. Brittany Dinhobl showcases her cocktail know-how with her take on this classic cocktail, which aptly includes a house-made coffee-porter liqueur. 

The King Alexander is a complex cocktail that combines subtle notes of coffee, chocolate and cardamom with a rich, creamy mouth-feel. Appreciate the creativity on display in The King Alexander and order yourself one (or two) on your next visit.  

 

THE HOPPY MONK // THE KING ALEXANDER

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. House-made Merit coffee and Deschutes Black Butte Porter liqueur

1 oz. heavy cream/St. Brendan's/China China "cream"

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a coupe. Sprinkle cocoa powder and nutmeg mix to garnish.  

Dorcol Distilling Co.: The Hoppy Monk

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Biga on the Banks

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Biga on the Banks

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Biga on the Banks

Biga on the Banks, a San Antonio staple owned by James Beard Award nominee Chef Bruce Auden, has long been celebrated for its culinary achievements. Barman Shane Clifford with his Alex-En-Rakia, a light and frothy cocktail with balanced notes of coconut and vanilla, is continuing Biga's history of excellence. It's not hard to imagine drinking more than one of these on your next visit.

 

BIGA ON THE BANKS // ALEX-EN-RAKIA

1 oz. House vanilla infused Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar

1/2 oz. orgeat

1 egg white

4 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake and strain back into tin removing the ice. "Dry" shake vigorously. Strain into a brandy snifter and freshly grate nutmeg for garnish.

 

Dorcol Distilling Co.: Biga on the Banks

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Liberty Bar

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Liberty Bar

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar's Ana Cabrera took her admiration of Kinsman and married it with her house-made ice cream for this decadent inspiration. Shaken without ice, and garnished with an orange zest, her Abuelita Alexander is an envy of even the savviest of grandmas.

Liberty Bar's Abuelita chocolate ice cream folded into Kinsman Apricot Rakia and Montenegro Amaro topped with milk chocolate shavings and orange oils is a humdinger of a cocktail with or without a meal. 

 

LIBERTY BAR //ABUELITA ALEXANDER

1 1/4 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1/2 oz. Montenegro Amaro

2 oz. scoop soft house-made Abuelita ice cream

Combine all ingredients in a tin. "Dry" shake combined ingredients. Pour into coupe. Garnish with an orange zest and freshly grated chocolate shavings. 

 

Dorcol Distilling Co.: Liberty Bar's Ana Cabrera 

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Kinsman Rakia 2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Signature

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Signature

2017 Brandy Alexander Tour: Signature

Signature's take on this classic dessert cocktail is equal parts culinary creativity and bar execution. Chef Andrew Weissman's bar team built this libation to be a perfect after meal addition, with a balanced build and a rich mouth-feel.

 

SIGNATURE // CREMOSA

1 oz. Kinsman Rakia

1 oz. crème de cacao

1 oz. heavy whipping cream

Combine ingredients in a tin over ice. Shake. Double strain into a coup. Top the cocktail with house-made whipped cream made by combining and "dry" shaking in a tin heavy whipping cream and simple syrup. Pour over cocktail, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. 

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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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Farm Feast at Dorcol (Spring 2017)

Our goal is to scour the world for greatest ingredients possible. From the fruit we distill, to the yeast we ferment with, each is native to its style and brewing or distilling region.

So when we hooked up with Chefs John and Elise Russ, Truckin' Tomato, and Texas farmers, ranchers and purveyors of dry goods, we knew damn well we'd be in for a culinary farm-to-table treat; a true Farm Feast! 

If you think you'd enjoy joining us, be sure to sign up to receive invites for future events!

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