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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student

arts weekend

COLUMN: Exploring refreshing alternatives to KOK


There’s more to Bloomington nightlife than Kilroy’s on Kirkwood and Brothers Bar and Grill. Hidden treasures are scattered throughout the city just waiting to be discovered.

One of these treasures is Friendly Beasts Cider Company located at 222 W. Second St., founded by Ben Romlein and his wife, Fatima Carson, in September 2017. 

The couple, frustrated by syrupy ciders found on grocery store shelves, learned how to turn their own apples into booze. Romlein said the fermentation process is similar to that of producing mead.

“Instead of grapes, we use apples,” Romlein said.

Their Hot Mulled Cider is served burgundy — steaming in a 10-ounce mug. It contains about 6.5 alcohol by volume and costs $4. It is sweetened with brown sugar, giving it a warm and rich flavor. The cider has been packed with mulling spices, making the beverage toasty and spicy.

Although sweet, the uniquely-blended ciders taste nothing like hard ciders typically found in stores. 

Friendly Beasts offers predominantly chilled ciders. The Cinnasloth is a cool cider flavored with cinnamon. It also contains 6.5 ABV and is smooth, subtle and yellow in color. The cidery, a place where cider is made, is located in a rustic, painted garage off of West Second Street. The atmosphere is warm, like a quaint ski-lodge, containing wooden interior and dim lighting.

Connoisseurs of custom drinks can enjoy more than just cider during an evening out on the town.

Oddball Fermentables at 1211 S. Walnut St. is a winery specializing in dry cysers, apple mead, and mead-cider hybrids.

Each beverage ranges between 11 and 13 percent alcohol by volume and is fermented in the basement of a brown-painted house with a multicolored interior. 

The meads served tend to be slightly more bitter than the cysers because their meads are fermented in a honey and water base, while their cysers are fermented in an apple, honey and water base. 

HopBerry Blue is a cyser containing blueberries, honey and apple juice, according to the Oddball Fermentables website. It is pink and pale in color. The wine is blended with centennial hops giving the beverage a subtle, smooth flavor and floral aroma. 

All beverages are priced around $7 a glass.

Bloomington has more to offer in the realm of alcoholic beverages than just fermented refreshments.

Cardinal Spirits is a distillery and restaurant located off South Morton Street. They distill around 12 different types of specialized spirits titled Vodka, Terra Botanical Gin, Bourbon, Tiki Rum and Bramble. Each drink is blended in house and mixed into cocktails served on site.

Flowers in the Attic is made with chamomile-lavender and infused with their in-house Standard Dry Gin, Honey Schnapps, lemon, grapefruit and lavender mixed with bitters. This citrusy beverage is sweet and refreshing, costing roughly $8.

Each drink is made with fresh ingredients which are displayed and cut at the bar. 

Thyme After Thyme is refreshing and tutti-frutti, according to Cardinal's menu. Made with thyme and infused with Valencia Triple Sec, Terra Botanical Gin, carrot juice, lemon and rhubarb bitters. This beverage is flavorfully sweet, tangy and sour. Colored orange and served with fresh thyme on top, each sip leaves a remarkably sweet and earthy after taste.

By emphasizing the importance of beverage quality through precise construction of custom drinks, these businesses offer alternatives for typical Friday-night hot spots in Bloomington. Laid back and inviting, they are sure to quench any craving, whether it be beer, cider, wine, cocktails or liquor.

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