Northside Distilling Co. Serves up Cincy's First Downtown Rum

Rum will reign. 

Northside Distilling Co. is celebrating the release of their latest spirit, which was twice distilled from blackstrap molasses and brown sugar. It’ll mark the first (and only) rum made in downtown Cincinnati.

The company, which moved to its current production space on Race Street last Spring, has been gradually creating new products — rum will be their seventh concoction in two years.

“There’s this big push for distilleries to start producing more varieties of booze and rum is quickly high up on this list,” says Ishan Ghildyal, Northside's marketing and event planner. 

When they first began—originally producing spirits via a barn in Northside (with no bar) before moving to downtown—the company only had a few items available: corn whiskey, vodka, aged bourbon and moonshine. Then came the gin and American Agave (aka their take on tequila).

Now, rum has made its debut.

“Thankfully, rum has been an easier process,”distiller Brandon Cafferky. “It yields a lot of alcohol when you distill it and it comes off at a higher proof.”

Before their partners let the crew order large quantities, Cafferky says they started with smaller test batches, estimating that they went through three different batches that tested varied amounts of blackstrap molasses and brown sugar — an ingredient they hadn’t worked with prior — before landing on a sweet spot fit for full-scale production.

The process to arrive at that was an experimental one, he notes. They weren't able to seek local advice, either — since they're the only ones distilling rum in the area. 

“At one point we had two different variations and then the next week we distilled them right after each other and had them in separate jars,” Cafferky says. “They were both super good, but we went with the one that we felt was superior.”

The final ratio? 70 percent molasses and 30 percent brown sugar. Ghildyal says another plus to rum is that it’s versatile. Expect aged rum to be released next, which is currently aging in barrels. 

To celebrate the summer release, there's a tiki party at the Distillery co-hosted by Taft’s Brewporium, with drinks flowing all day Saturday and nostalgia-induced Rum Capri-Suns as a centerpiece ($5). The tiki party will feature specialty island-themed takes: the Hurricane Marzullo (yes, it’s named after Fox19’s Frank Marzullo), Rum Runner (notes of banana, orange and lime) and the Mai Tyson Punch.

That concept was also born through happenstance. As Ghildyal tells it, the crew was looking for a new cocktail fit for summer heat (and something Peddle Wagon riders could take aboard). After scraping the idea of popsicles, they purchased the pouches on a  whim and — unexpectedly — the adult Capri-Sun took off. 

“We went through 50 in the first day. We were like, ‘OK. We’ve got to do this more.’ So for our July 4th party we did three different types and almost sold out of all of those,” Ghildyal says. “We decided, ‘Okay! This is our thing now! Northside Capri-Suns.’ "

Other drink specials will include Nellie’s Keylime Caribbean Ale by Taft’s Ale House ($3). Grab grub from an on-site food truck or puff on a cigar with your rum.

The fun starts Saturday at 1 p.m. (Click here for more info.)

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Northside Distilling Co. is celebrating the release of their latest spirit, which was twice distilled from blackstrap molasses and brown sugar. It’ll mark the first (and only) rum made in downtown Cincinnati.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Northside Distilling Co. is celebrating the release of their latest spirit, which was twice distilled from blackstrap molasses and brown sugar. It’ll mark the first (and only) rum made in downtown Cincinnati.
“Thankfully, rum has been an easier process,” Brandon Cafferky, distiller, says. “It yields a lot of alcohol when you distill it and it comes off at a higher proof.”
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
“Thankfully, rum has been an easier process,” Brandon Cafferky, distiller, says. “It yields a lot of alcohol when you distill it and it comes off at a higher proof.”
“At one point we had two different variations and then the next week we distilled them right after each other and had them in separate jars,” Cafferky says. “They were both super good but we went with the one that we felt was superior.”
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
“At one point we had two different variations and then the next week we distilled them right after each other and had them in separate jars,” Cafferky says. “They were both super good but we went with the one that we felt was superior.”
The final ratio? 70 percent molasses and 30 percent brown sugar. Ghildyal says another plus to rum is that it’s versatile. Expect aged rum to be released next, which is currently aging in barrels.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The final ratio? 70 percent molasses and 30 percent brown sugar. Ghildyal says another plus to rum is that it’s versatile. Expect aged rum to be released next, which is currently aging in barrels.
Northside Distilling labels every bottle by hand.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Northside Distilling labels every bottle by hand.
The Hurricane Marzullo named after Fox 19 anchor Frank Marzullo, made with Northside Distilling's rum
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Hurricane Marzullo named after Fox 19 anchor Frank Marzullo, made with Northside Distilling's rum
To celebrate the summer release, the distillery is throwing a tiki party co-hosted by Taft’s Brewporium with drinks flowing all day Saturday with nostalgia-induced Rum Capri-Suns at the helm ($5).
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
To celebrate the summer release, the distillery is throwing a tiki party co-hosted by Taft’s Brewporium with drinks flowing all day Saturday with nostalgia-induced Rum Capri-Suns at the helm ($5).