Escaping the wind and rain one afternoon, we ducked into Letterpress Distilling to tour the facility and taste Owner Skip Tognetti's creations. Thunder cracked nearby as we bellied up to the tasting bar. One sip of his vibrant limoncello and the clouds parted. Skip spent childhood summers sampling limoncello straight from his grandfather's Roman liquor store, so naturally, he wanted to get his trademark blend right. Between tours and tastings at his SODO distillery, you'll find Skip perfecting two new spirits for their upcoming release.
What led you to the distillery business?
At the most basic level, I just like to make stuff. I have always needed a creative outlet (I studied both art and creative writing in college), and I've always had a fascination with making things from scratch. Making liquor came from that. When the laws in Washington changed a few years ago, I knew it was time to combine those things I love and make the jump.
What's your favorite cocktail to mix at home?
I am such a mood-based drinker - mood and weather. When it's hot, I like something juice-based: a Daiquiri (a proper one; not one of those slushy monstrosities), maybe a Margarita or a Whiskey Sour. In the winter I want spirit-forward drinks, and I prefer them brown: a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or, if I'm feeling fancy, a Vieux Carré. If I had to pick one though, it's definitely a rye Old Fashioned. I make those a lot. They're perfect in their simplicity: whiskey, sugar, bitters. That one works any time of year.
What gets used the most of your bar cart at home?
American whiskeys, followed closely by gin, and a lot of Angostura and orange bitters. Both my wife and I love a good whiskey cocktail though, so I make a lot of those.
When can we expect the debut of your amaro?
I'm actually planning to release two amari at once. One will be more on the herbal end of the spectrum and the other will be more toward the citrus end. Hopefully, we'll have those ready to go by the beginning of next year.
Why do you think amari are suddenly gaining popularity?
It goes hand-in-hand with the ascendance of the cocktail culture over the last several years. People are being exposed to more flavors. They're seeing amari as ingredients in cocktails and, increasingly, on the after-dinner menu. So, really, it comes down to exposure and a broadening of people's palates.
Read more about Letterpress Distilling in our Fall/Winter Newsletter, available in all of our locations and online. Check back next week for a look at a local craft distillery serving its booze with a side of bacon.