The new year is often a time of great evolution. In a city like Louisville, change seems to be the name of the game, year on year. Neighborhoods are revitalized, new businesses thrive, old enterprises innovate and communities come together.
Louisville isn’t perfect, no place is, but there are a whole host of people and organizations in this city striving to make a difference. For the first cover story of the new-look Voice-Tribune, we’ve selected a handful of groups and individuals who have been creating positive change in Louisville for the past few years, and are working harder than ever to spur even greater progress in 2015. We’ve chosen to focus on food, community, technology and the arts. This is not a comprehensive list, merely a sampling of the thousands of Louisvillians who help catalyze change in this city, creating one of the most fun, vibrant and diverse towns in America. Keep reading
Consumers may mark the passing of 2014 with a midnight glass of bubbly, but odds are they’ll begin and end the evening with cocktails boasting a burst of cinnamon, a dash of ginger or a hint of mint. Flavored spirits grew more popular this year, and the trend is set to continue growing in 2015 with the rise of more artisan and small-batch products.
Cinnamon has been a particularly popular flavor for whiskey and other spirits this year, but ginger has been on the rise and next year is likely to bring even more ginger-flavored spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails.
“It fits in well with that savory-sweet spice trend, so if you’re going to mix it in anything else, it will provide those notes to the finished product,” said Kirsten Wemer, lab manager at Flavorman in Louisville, Ky. Her company works with clients to create new beverage recipes. “Ginger is the next cinnamon.”
Louisville’s Flavorman made its name as a beverage-creation consultant developing recipes for sodas, energy drinks, blended whiskeys and flavored vodkas.
As craft distilleries pop up and bourbon’s popularity grows, the mix is changing on the alcohol side of its business with newer takes on old spirits like gin, brandy and a different power drink — flavored moonshine.
As a result, Flavorman is seeing a new era of innovation, one of its chief beverage officials said.
A “beverage architect” who designs flavored moonshine, energy drinks and vitamin shots for a living, Cory Pierce was so taken with a co-worker’s recent Halloween cocktail that he re-created the potion back in his laboratory.
That’s how Amaretto Disaronno, The Kraken Black Spiced Rum, Kroger brand apple cider and dry ice ended up on a lab bench Monday at Flavorman, the Louisville beverage development company on Eighth Street downtown.
The resulting “Haunted Cider,” warms the throat on the way down, soothed by the sweetness of apple, almond and vanilla notes.
“It is potent,” Pierce cautioned about the concoction he drank bottled on ice this month at a housewarming party in St. Matthews. “The spices wake you up and it is good served hot or cold. It was a big hit.”
“If you check out this week’s episode of “Shark Tank” on ABC, you’ll spot a company with Louisville ties, called BeatBox Beverages.”
BeatBox was started by a group of business students from the University of Texas at Austin. The company makes flavored wine that comes in a box shaped like a 1980s-style boom box.
Each five-liter box contains 34, five-ounce servings and comes in flavors including cranberry limeade, sweet tea, razzberry lemonade and box a’rita
“It’s a big month for Louisville beverage developer David Dafoe.”
His downtown business, Flavorman, 809 S. Eighth St., has been highlighted in Fortune Magazine as one of the 100 fastest-growing urban businesses in America. And Friday, a product his company helped develop will be featured on the ABC television show “Shark Tank.”
“The beverage industry is a cut-throat industry that we take head-on every day. We never expected to be in this type of business, but now we love it.”
Tina: “This recipe started in our kitchen as a wine spritzer. Our children always wanted to try it because it was pretty and pink. On a trip to the ‘happiest place on earth’, we decided that this was something that is unique to the market and started brainstorming. Ozark Mountain Bottleworks was born.”
Marlena: “The project was to match Tina’s home recipe of lemonade. The original recipe included lemon juice, but since we needed to develop a soda that could be produced commercially, we had to remove the juice portion and replace it with flavor. It is not always easy to recreate the mouth feel and taste that juice incorporates.”
ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS FROM THE MAN GOING FOR A THREE-PEAT
“Small companies need big personalities.”
Well, “big,” is a bit of an understatement. More like loud, in volume and presence. The guy who’s going to walk into a room, any room, and turn it upside down. How do we know? We’ve been working with him for 12 years. Joe Heron is bold, bracingly candid, sometimes coarse, and remarkably generous.
“Funny thing: the beverage business was never something we thought of getting into…”
Marlena: “Michele, Nina’s Mom had her own recipes that she created in her kitchen and everyone who ever tried them told her that she should produce them so that people everywhere could buy and enjoy them.”
Nina: “My Mom is a breast cancer survivor, and during her rehabilitation we would create our own dessert liqueurs in our kitchen as just something fun that we could do together, mainly to get her mind off of her tough recovery process.”