The Mouth Indie Spirits + Wine Gallery — an all-American, all-artisan spirits shop run by the specialty food delivery site called Mouth — was originally intended as a work-around.
The company wanted to add spirits and wine to their offerings, explains founder and CEO Craig Kanarick, but in order to legally sell spirits online you have to have a shop. So he figured he’d set up some small storefront near the Mouth warehouse in DUMBO and open it for a few hours a week.
Then the serial entrepreneur’s work ethic kicked in (Kanarick founded the digital agency Razorfish, and raised $1.5 million in financing for Mouth back in 2013). After a few weeks, says Kanarick, “we said, ‘of course, we’re going to do it right.’”
Like his website — which went from stocking New York’s artisan products to covering the entire country and its territories — the store has blossomed into a one-of-a-kind shop, a must-visit for those interested in the best of hard-to-find, from-scratch American-made flavors.
Those include not just New York State beverages like Homestead Isle Au Haut from Aaron Burr Cidery in Wurtsboro, New York, a 2012 blaufränkisch from Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton or the “Glorious” barrel-aged gin from Breuckelen Distilling here in the city, but also a double-barreled bourbon from Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, Tennessee, a traditional Italian amaros made with American ingredients by an expat in Washington, D.C., and a single-barrel brandy made by Germain-Robin in Ukiah, California, exclusively for the store.
Mouth began because Kanarick, a passionate cook and food lover, saw a niche. Visiting well-stocked Brooklyn food shops like Marlow & Daughters or the Gourmet Guild after his children’s acrobatics classes in Williamsburg, he wished he could get his Tin mustard or Mast Bros. chocolate delivered to his Manhattan doorstep. Realizing that there must be others who felt the same — “the tourists who came to town and fell in love with Anarchy in a Jar,” to use his example — he started his own company, at first calling it New York Mouth.
He soon learned that like-minded producers — sourcing locally, making quality foodstuffs largely by hand — were actually toiling away everywhere from Indiana to Florida. Now with help from new spirits director Alexandra Farrington (who formerly worked at a Vermont distillery making rum from maple sap), Mouth applies the same approach to the Indie Spirits + Wine Gallery, which following its name is an all-white space where the spirits speak for themselves.
“You can pretty much come in and find the best products,” enthuses Kanarick, who has grown enamored not just with tracking down funky, forward-thinking makers like Don Ciccio & Figli, the D.C. company behind those Italian amaros, but with his store.
Merchandising has been so much fun, Kanarick admits, he might even open a store to sell all those jars of mustard and jam he’s got warehoused around the corner.
Photo credit: Clay Williams