The fish tank at Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur distillery contains two metaphors.
The first is a Red Pacu fish named Red. “He was originally 1-inch long, but is not tank-constrained, so he’ll keep growing as much as you feed him. We like to think that we need to grow the business to keep up with Red,” Josh Morton, Barrow’s co-owner/Founder, told me during a June 2 tasting and distillery tour in Brooklyn.
But business is not so simple. Thus the second metaphor, a Sunny fish called Speedy.
“Speedy was supposed to be Red’s lunch,” Morton told me. “Speedy wasn’t the toughest or biggest of the fish we feed Red, but he was the one who survived. Sometimes to compete you just need to be nimbler than the other guys.”
So it has been for Barrow’s. Originally in IT, Morton grew his alcohol brand “organically,” with no start-up cash, from a liqueur-making hobby to handselling around New York to getting picked up by Serralles and shipped to 28 states (38 by year’s end).
It also helps that his product “is collaborative. It can mix with everything,” Morton said. “Liqueurs allow you to make more cocktails. People are always trying to differentiate themselves with new and different flavor profiles, and everyone loves ginger.”
At the tasting at Bar Tabac in Brooklyn, I tried the bistro’s Intense Ginger Lemonade. Mixed with lemonade and Angostura bitters, the Barrow’s provided just the right degree of ginger kick. So too did it nicely spice up Bar Tabac’s Supeard 13, a pear-vodka cocktail with Barrow’s and lime juice.
Barrow’s spice is a combination of Peruvian and Chinese ginger roots. The former is earthier, Morton said, while the latter is more citrusy and floral. Like with whiskey, Morton can balance the flavor and spiciness of each batch by blending in more of the Peruvian or Chinese.
After trimming the ginger roots, Barrow’s employees process them in a buffalo chopper. This mash then ages for about a month in 25-liter stainless steel tanks with a 190-proof neutral cane spirit. The base alcohol pulls flavor from the ginger, and also allows Barrow’s to be gluten free.
Next the liquid goes through a fruit press and then is pumped into a blending tank, where it’s mixed with sugar and water. (One byproduct, a “ginger sludge,” is sent to a cookie shop downstairs for baking purposes.) The entire process involves no heat or distillation.
Made from fresh ginger, Barrow’s has a light, cloudy, yellow-green complexion, with some sediment on the bottom of the bottle. It’s also Kosher-certified.
Barrow’s is sold in 750- and 375-ml bottles. Morton said he’s looking to add 1-liter bottles to his lineup. That’s for the future, as his company grows out with Red.
Want more? Look for a Q&A with Morton and co-owner Eve Alintuck in an upcoming issue of Beverage Dynamics Magazine.