Two Traverse City companies building on early success of their brands are launching major expansions in the downtown district – and The Ticker has an exclusive inside look at their plans.
The owners of both 7 Monks Taproom and Traverse City Whiskey Company are busy preparing to open new venues downtown: the former plans an upscale, speakeasy-inspired cocktail lounge; the latter will open a tasting room, retail shop and distillery. Here is an early look at what customers can expect from both:
7 Monks Taproom
7 Monks owners Matt Cozzens and Jim Smolak are setting out to do for cocktails what they've already done locally for beer: introduce customers to an array of unique, rare and unexpected flavors. The duo is launching Low Bar, a 1,500 square-foot basement lounge that will be located directly next door to 7 Monks on Union Street, with the goal of reviving the elegant, Prohibition-era aura of an underground speakeasy.
“The vibe will be like walking into a parlor in a 1930s mansion,” says Smolak, who notes that downtown shop Ella's Fashion & Furnishings is overseeing the room's design and décor.
The approximately 80-capacity lounge will feature a craft cocktail list – created with the help of mixology consulting expert Mickey Humpula – highlighting housemade bitters/syrups and local ingredients, an extensive bourbon and Scotch list, select wines and beers, and a "creative" small plate menu. A mixture of intimate and group seating, a long mahogany bar centerpiece, a library-inspired den area and dim mood lighting will round out the setting, which will be accessible from the street level via an elevator.
Smolak and Cozzens are also introducing a “liquor locker” program at the venue – a concept new to Traverse City, but one commonly found in metropolitan areas. For a monthly fee, customers can rent an on-site locker at the lounge in which they can store bottles of spirits or wine purchased on-site for use during future visits. Locker renters will also enjoy complimentary bottle service and mixers, the ability to reserve tables, and members-only programming and events.
Low Bar, which is expected to open in early to mid-November, will be open six days a week (closed on Sundays) with estimated operating hours of 5pm-Midnight.
Traverse City Whiskey Company
After searching for more than a year, Chris Fredrickson has finally found the “perfect home” in downtown Traverse City to locate his successful Traverse City Whiskey Company, which launched in 2012 and is already enjoying product distribution throughout the Midwest.
Fredrickson is in the process of closing on a 2,200 square-foot building on the corner of Fourteenth and Cass streets, formerly home to Mod-Zel Screen Printing. The facility will house distillery production, a retail shop and a tasting room for Traverse City Whiskey.
“We have a still on order now and hope to be distilling in-house by early 2014, which is also when we hope to open the doors to our tasting room,” says Fredrickson.
The owner plans to restore and highlight the building's original exposed brick and weathered wood, cultivating a modern rustic décor. In addition to on-site bottle sales, the company will offer product samples, a craft cocktail menu, light food fare and occasional small events, such as singer-songwriter showcases. Fredrickson says the tasting room will likely be open three to four days a week, from early afternoon until mid-evening.
“As downtown continues to expand outward, we're excited to be a part of this neighborhood and of the revitalization happening on this side of town,” says Fredrickson, pointing to Right Brain Brewery on Sixteenth Street as a pioneer of the district's southward growth. “Being the first distillery downtown...is something we worked hard toward. We're hoping this will help solidify our local presence in the community."