Monthly “Stitch & Bitch” at Cardinal Spirits revolves around ugly sweaters


Alison Zook, events director for Cardinal Spirits, works on decorating her T-Shirt during this month's "Stitch & Bitch" craft night at the distillery. Sanya Ali Buy Photos

Cardinal Spirits often plans programming from cocktail parties to musical series, and the distillery began December with a holiday themed crafting experience.

Along with bells and lights signifying the Christmas season, ragtime music played as employees dressed in old-fashioned costumes.

They were celebrating the historical date for the end of U.S. prohibition on Dec. 5, 1933 during their “Stitch & Bitch Ugly Sweater Party.”

This month’s event coincided with the release of their winter menu, full of new cocktails for attendees to try.

Alison Zook, the events director for Cardinal, said Stitch & Bitch was born last year from Zook and blogger Jessica Quirk’s love of crafting, and the events have since become a regular part of programming at the distillery.

Quirk is also the wife of one of Cardinal’s owners, Adam Quirk.

“Jessica is an insane knitter,” Zook said. “That girl can do stuff with yarn that will make your head spin. She is our resident ‘stitcher’ and I’m our resident ‘bitcher.’ My expertise here is mainly random crafts — I cannot paint, I cannot draw, but I can MacGyver some Christmas lights onto a sweater.”

For this event, Zook reserved the back four tables of the distillery, past the bar.

Tables included menus advertising the newest unconventional cocktails as well as colored pencils, hot glue guns and a range of baubles attendees could use to decorate their sweaters or coloring pages.

Zook said this event falls in line with the goal of any program at Cardinal, which is to bring new and old friends together in the space.

“We like to try and keep it theme-y,” Zook said. “Moving forward with this, we’ll definitely be working in more community crafts, so every month there will be a community craft focus where we’ll supply some things and then you can bring whatever you want and everybody just pulls together and have fun.”

Planning events for a distillery allows for more freedom when compared to more professional settings, Zook said.

“I get to do crazy things — it’s not like planning a corporate event,” Zook said. “I get to plan fun things around alcohol. I get to be the party and show up and help folks to have a good time. There’s not as many rules and I get to have more fun.”

Rose Smith, a Bloomington local, said she has attended many of Cardinal Spirit’s events in the past and always finds a friendly atmosphere in the space.

“I have a terrible fear of social situations, so this is kind of nice because you can just sit with people,” Smith said. “Everyone is friendly and everyone wants to talk and make friends. It’s nice to just sit, be yourself and talk to people.”

Smith brought a “Harry Potter”-themed coloring book and used crayons to fill the pages as Zook worked on her holiday-themed t-shirt nearby.

Zook said her shirt, which she adorned with a cardinal and a Christmas tree, was inspired by the cardinal which decorates the space’s logo, as well as by a remnant of an event that took place at the venue last week.

“I did another event last week with Kroger,” Zook said. “It was wonderful and they brought in these beautiful lit displays. One broke, so I kept the lights from it. I’m hoping to be able to work in some Christmas tree that actually lights up.”

Smith said, for her, the event serves as not only a hub for new friendships, but a chance to take a pause from life as a stay-at-home mom to two young girls, Smith said.

“Every chance I can get for a break is nice,” Smith said. “Today they have a fun theme, they have nice decorations. Last time I was here, there was girl who was new to town, for someone like her it’d be a really great way to be introduced to a new place and talk to local people.”

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