After living in Reno for nearly six years, I'd never checked out Verdi. So after spending the day there attempting to go on a hike, we stopped by the Verdi Local Distillery on our way back into town. I’ve heard the drinks at the Verdi Local Distillery taste like no other, and it’s important to support local businesses during this time, so I figured what better time to check it out. Located on Old Highway 40 next to Chop 40, you can't miss it.
With the walls filled with rustic Nevada décor, it didn’t even feel like we were just a short drive away from Reno.
We’ve all heard of Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Jameson, but when I looked at the menu, I knew this was going to be different. Lemon whiskey? Garlic whiskey? Yeti jackalope gin? I've never heard of such a thing.
We tried the Truckee Dog and John Daily and they were two of the best cocktails I've ever had. The Truckee Dog consisted of their yeti jackalope gin, which is distilled with juniper and orange peels, lime juice, ginger syrup and grapefruit. The John Daily was with their lemon whisky, unsweetened black tea, lemon and mint garnish. It tasted so fresh and smooth, I’ve never tried anything like it. We enjoyed our drinks and a famous "Dodger Dog" on the back patio. (I'm not a Dodgers fan, but I have to say they are still pretty good.) It was so quiet and peaceful, a perfect way to end the day. There’s a stage in the backyard for small concerts, and while they’re on pause for now, it would be the perfect spot to enjoy a Friday or Saturday night with some friends during the summer.
I reached out to the owner Jeremy Baumann to hear more about the business and how the Verdi Local Distillery got started. He said it started as a hobby, and then it turned into more. Who would’ve thought a hobby would turn into some of the most unique drinks in Northern Nevada?
“I started brewing beer and then I got into wine," Baumann said. "It didn’t come out right, so then I got into distilling and I realized I liked distilling better, so I tried to distill whiskies and brandies and a bunch of different stuff. Then I changed licenses. Nevada has a law for commercial distilleries, so I applied for that and then it kind of just all snowballed from there."
After opening in 2014, Baumann said he’s trying to distill spirits that no one else has. Some of their most popular items are their lemon whisky, apple cinnamon whisky and a peanut butter whisky, which was recently released. As far as cocktails go, the most popular ones (and Baumann’s favorites) are the Blowout, Crystal Peach and the John Daily (which I tried). The Blowout is yeti jackalope gin, lemonade, blueberry gastrique, lavender bitters and fresh garnish. The Crystal Peach is their mahogany whiskey, peach tea and citrus.
“My distillation process is kind of unique to us and the products that we use, the flavors and ingredients, etc.," Baumann said.
Before the pandemic hit, I never really thought about buying a canned cocktail. Typically you go to a bar or just a make a drink from ingredients at the grocery store, so I asked Baumann if the pandemic kick-started the idea.
“We started in December (making the canned cocktails) and never really focused on it just because most of the time people just come in here and have a cocktail," he said. "So it was nice every once in a while, to buy one and take it home, or give them out as presents, but once the pandemic hit, this is what we needed to do so people could take them home and we had everything for it so we might as well focus on that.”
The Verdi Local Distillery has six canned cocktails ranging from $5-$8, including
- Gin & Tonic - Yeti Jackalope Gin, Tonic and Lime
- Verdi Mule - Apple Cinnamon Whiskey, Ginger Beer, Splash of Soda Water and Lime
- Six Feet Above - Mahogany Whiskey, Cherry Cream Soda, Soda Water and a dash of Tropical Hibiscus Sea Salt
- Crystal Peach - Mahogany Whiskey, Peach Tea and Lime
- Bloody Mary - Verdi Local Bloody Mary mix, Garlic Whiskey and Lime
- House Kombucha - non-alcoholic
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the Verdi Local Distillery saw the demand for hand sanitizer and realized it could help the community.
“We just realized we could help since the number one ingredient is alcohol,” Baumann said. “I made a batch just for the distillery, so we could have hand sanitizer here and realized people were coming in here asking if they could buy it. So the first batch, I was just giving away, and when everything shut down, we realized that we could do this. I actually laid off my employees and then a couple days later realized I needed them to help make hand sanitizer. So at first I was making it for us, then realized there was a need for it, and then realized this was something we could sell to other businesses or individuals and be able to make some for the hospitals and the other offices that needed it, like the Washoe County Sheriffs department.”
You can buy spirits, canned cocktails and hand sanitizer online for curbside pickup by clicking here. Their business hours are Tuesday-Saturday 2 p.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Shannon Kelly is a Multimedia Journalist for Nevada Sports Net. You can contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter @shannonkelly_2.