You won’t find a Jack and Coke on the menu at Bluewater Organic Distilling.
You won’t find Red Bull and vodka either.
Instead, you’ll find cocktails made with fresh organic ingredients and spirits from local distilleries.
It’s John Lundin’s quiet protest against the corporate, corn syrup-based food industry – and he’s working to pass that message on to the people.
“We have a very strong independent streak with what we do here,” said Lundin, the owner of Bluewater Distilling. “We feel very stubbornly that there are better ways to do things.”
Lundin shares those “better ways” with the cocktail-drinking public once a month at classes offered at the Everett distillery and restaurant. Lundin – or one of the creative geniuses behind the distillery’s signature drinks – shows attendees a simpler, fresher approach to mixing drinks.
Like a margarita, for example.
“You should never buy cheap tequila and never use a margarita mix,” Lundin said.
He recommends using fresh lime juice and a simple syrup with a splash of fresh orange juice. Then maybe go a little bolder and start substituting flavors: muddle a nectarine or add some mezcal for smoke.
In no time at all, you’ve created what Lundin describes as a very simple yet eloquent cocktail.
“I believe this palate is actually more approachable to the home bartender than people realize,” he added.
One method Lundin prefers is through infusions — flavoring spirits such as vodka or whiskey by using fruits, herbs or other ingredients.
The infusions can be made in small batches by combining the ingredients and spirits in a canning jar and leaving it in the refrigerator for a few days.
Lundin admits that infusion can be a challenging process as home bartenders discover which flavors work well together and which flavors don’t. But he encourages his classes to experiment.
“Maybe there’s a certain flavor spice that you love,” he said. “Look for different ways of capturing that and make it for yourself.”
The infusions can also be made in small batches, so people don’t have to buy big bottles that could go to waste or buy something made from artificial sweeteners that leave them feeling miserable the next day.
The Cocktail Tuesday class is offered by Bluewater Distilling the first Tuesday of every month. Each class has room for about 24 people and the lessons have gained an enthusiastic following.
Neighbors Lynn Dolan and Barb Meyers, of Marysville, thought the class would be the perfect opportunity to learn how to make drinks for their annual holiday party.
“We’d been to Bluewater before and I don’t think there’s a drink we’ve had that we didn’t like,” Meyers said. “Our goal for New Year’s Eve is to have our own bar set up with the stuff that we’ve learned to make.”
They were hooked after that first class and have taken four, including a private class on infusion.
Meyers brought along a co-worker, Corry Venoma-Weiss, who also became a fan of Cocktail Tuesday.
“They make it so it’s accessible to people who are very experienced making drinks at home to people who are just beginning,” said Venoma-Weiss of Everett. “The infusion class made me feel really brave about where to go next.”
The group said they feel encouraged to experiment with different tastes and flavors, and feel confident about making their own infused spirits.
“It’s just amazing because you think you have to buy special spirits from wherever and he’s like, ‘No, you can make them!’” Venoma-Weiss said.
“You don’t have to buy Triple Sec, you don’t have to buy grenadine. I will never buy another bottle of grenadine,” Dolan added with a laugh.
Meyers, Dolan and Venoma-Weiss appreciate Lundin’s focus on buying locally.
“He’s all about the small-town buying and that’s what’s great,” Meyers said. “It’s stay local and support your small business.”
Lundin believes large corporations are keeping people locked into a buying pattern that limits them to what he calls “garbage products.”
That’s a pattern he’s hoping to break people out of.
“Everything we do at Bluewater is out of respect for the customer,” he said. “I really believe that people shouldn’t have to be subjected to additives and chemicals and not be told what’s in their spirits.
“Home bartending becomes much more affordable because you don’t have to buy these expensive liqueurs where you’re paying for the label.”
In addition to Cocktail Tuesday, Bluewater Distilling also offers a yoga class on select Saturday mornings. YogaMosa is open to all skill levels and each $25 session ends with a cocktail and a brunch dish from the restaurant’s pastry chef.
Bluewater Distilling moved their operation to a larger space on the Everett waterfront two years ago, but began offering the classes even before they moved.
“We’ve always known that it’s really important to communicate our philosophy,” Lundin said. “The classes were always something that we knew we would be doing, especially since we built this facility to have this event space.”
Lundin hopes to make cocktails more approachable and remove the idea that the drinks are somehow elitist or snobby.