Drink It In

The Peninsula's new Old World Spirits

The last place you would expect to find a superlative distillery is in an industrial park adjacent to Highway 101.

But there in Belmont is Old World Spirits, the brainchild of Joseph Karakas and Davorin Kuchan, a third-generation distiller from Croatia.

The company's seven current releases include Blade gin (teeming with bright notes of ginger and cilantro), two kinds of absinthe (green and the rare clear), a heady black-walnut liqueur, and three fruit eaux-de-vie.

Kuchan distills his meticulous spirits in a custom-made still from the esteemed German company CARL, using his own Zinfandel brandy and mostly mountain-grown local fruit.

Bay Area bartenders are being swayed by the purity of his approach: Old World Spirits' bottles are on hand at the bars at such standout spots as Rickhouse, The Alembic and Nopa.

Scott Beattie of the soon-to-open Spoonbar in Healdsburg was so flabbergasted by Old World Spirits' Blade gin that the spirit will be the base of the bar's Aviation, Last Word, and "the best Corpse Reviver No. 2 (click here to download the recipe) I've ever had," he notes.

Not bad for little Belmont.

Most of Old World Spirits' products are available at Cask, 17 Third St., 415-424-4844; and K&L Wine Merchants (multiple Bay Area locations)