Cocktails & Spirits

Florida's New Distillery Trail Highlights Miami and Fort Lauderdale Spirits Makers

Learn to make your own gin with South Florida Distillers.
Learn to make your own gin with South Florida Distillers. Photo by Nicole Danna
From vodka in Tampa to gin in Fort Lauderdale and rum in the Keys, dozens of craft spirits distilleries have now been established in Florida, with more coming online seemingly every month.

With the growing number of Florida distilleries over the past several years, the Florida Craft Spirits Association, a membership organization consisting of 44 Florida distilleries, recently announced the official launch of the Florida Distillery Trail, a multi-stop distillery tour that traverses the entire Sunshine State.

The result? A new style of Florida tourism, says Manifest Distillery owner David Cohen, who also stands as president of the Florida Craft Spirits Association.

"With the strength of our industry in this state, combined with the help of Visit Florida, our goal is to make the Florida Distillery Trail one of the best in the country," said Cohen.

To date, the Florida Distillery Trail consists of 39 distilleries spanning from the Panhandle to the southernmost point of the state. Explorers can get their free passport booklet at any participating distillery location. Along the trail, tourers will collect stamps in the special booklet at each stop on the route.

For every 12 stamps collected, visitors will receive a commemorative gift to mark their achievement. Commemorative gifts include an association T-shirt, a tasting glass, and a gift basket filled with Florida-crafted spirits. The trail can be completed distillery-by-distillery or in regions at a time.

In South Florida, several distilleries have joined the trail. They include Big Cypress Distillery, Chainbridge Distillery, Miami Club Rum, Ziami Distillery, and the soon-to-open Tropical Distillers. More are set to come online in time to celebrate the Florida Craft Spirits Association's annual Sunshine Spirits Festival set to take place on October 15 in Jacksonville.

According to Steven D'Apuzzo, owner of Shady Distillery in Fort Lauderdale, the growing number of distillers and the establishment of the trail is a welcome evolution.

"It's exciting to see the development and emergence of craft distilleries sweeping through Florida," D'Apuzzo tells New Times. "This is very similar to the boom we've recently experienced with craft beer and local breweries. Consumers want to — and should — know exactly where their consumables are made. Locally made craft spirits fill a void and allow us to support the movement to eat, drink & play in the U.S. As more and more consumers seek local products and brands, we hope and expect to see this trend continue to grow."

While not all of South Florida's distilleries are participating in the trail, here are three local spirit makers worth visiting:
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Miami Club Rum plays music for its rum.
Photo courtesy of Miami Club Rum

Miami Club Rum

7401 NW Miami Pl., Miami
Founded in 2010 in Wynwood, Miami Club Rum stands as the Magic City’s first distillery. In addition to a Cuban coffee-flavored liqueur and coconut flavored rum, it's best known for the eponymous Miami Club Rum. Slow-aged in French oak, it's also said to be infused with the music of Miami (salsa, samba, and other Caribbean rhythms are played to the rum all day, every day as it matures). Today, the brand's Little River location offers guests a chance to visit the Gallery Tasting Room for tours, tastings of various expressions, and cocktails. The Miami Club Rum Visitor Center features unique gifts, brand merchandise, and spirits. Open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.Tuesday through Saturday.
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Shady Distillery head distiller Jonny VanPlanck at the Fort Lauderdale Sistrunk Marketplace and Brewery.
Photo by Cailin Byrne

Shady Distillery

616 NW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Founded in 2021 in the heart of Fort Lauderdale's Fat Village art district, Shady Distillery came on the scene producing small-batch and limited edition spirits including Shady vodka, 12 Mile rum, and — soon — a bourbon. Located behind Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery, the on-site tasting room currently offers weekly distillery tours as well as seasonal four-course distillery dinners. Tours, priced at $30 per person, take place at 7 p.m. every Wednesday and can be scheduled on the brand's website. During the tour, guests will learn the basics of distilling vodka and rum, as well as Florida's spirit-making history and Shady's approach to blending. After, the experience continues with a tasting of two signature Shady cocktails accompanied by a board of appetizers.
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South Florida Distillers began making their Fwaygo rum in 2014.
Photo courtesy of South Florida Distillers

South Florida Distillers

1110 NE Eighth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
In 2014, South Florida Distillers founders Avi Aisenberg and Joe Durkin debuted their small-batch spirits operation, launching their award-winning white rum, Fwaygo, in 2015. Today, the Fort Lauderdale-based distillery and tasting room also functions as an incubator program, offering contract manufacturing and labeling services for start-up spirits brands. While you can visit the tasting room to sample any of the distillery's in-house spirits, guests can also sign up for the distillery's two-hour make-your-own-gin class where attendees can pair up or work solo to craft their own signature gin using a 192-proof vodka made from American wheat that is further distilled during class using up to 24 botanicals that range from dried herbs and spices including chamomile, clove, and licorice root to more obscure picks like orris root, rosebuds, and wild cherry bark. Ticket pricing starts at $150 per person, with discounts currently available through Groupon for new guests. Open from 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna

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