Rusted Crow Spirits amasses loyal following 

Rusted Crow Spirits is not your average distillery. Even though it's not located in trendy downtown or in Ferndale, the distillery's tasting room has already amassed a loyal following since opening in December. "I didn't expect it to be so popular," says owner Joe Schebel. "For a bar in Dearborn Heights, you can hardly stand in here on a Friday night."

Schebel designed all of the bottles himself and says to look forward to more coming soon. "I thought what it was really lacking was true marketing," says Schebel. "I did all of these to gravitate to niche markets. I know there is enough of me out there ... but not a bottle that appeals to everyone."

There's the Murder Mitten Moonshine, a whiskey based on the War of 1812 with a label featuring a murder of crows as the Upper Peninsula. Rusted Crow's evergreen gin, Ginstache, is based on the prohibition era, with a label featuring a couple stealing each other's gin stash. The Detroit Steam features the old Cadillac building with a story on the back about Detroit and the automotive industry. (Rusted Crow's mascot, an 1830 Ford that Schebel built, is featured on the bottle and sits out front of the bar.) Lastly, Davy Rum Jones has a mermaid as Davy Jones reaches for her from the back.

"Pirates are always in a rum, and my wife's the mermaid on it," says Schebel.

All basic mixes are $7. Rusted Crow's staff cocktails like Rosemary's Baby — Detroit Steam vodka, rosemary syrup (made in-house), grapefruit juice, lime juice, topped with ginger beer — is the customer favorite.

Currently, Rusted Crow's spirits are available in 650 locations including Comerica Park, Westborn Markets, and Andiamo — and Schebel says he hopes to open a downtown Detroit location soon next to Rub Pub.

Rusted Crow will also be offering chef-oriented personal pizzas in a few weeks and hope to release six new spirits by end of 2016 including a Ginger Devil, the Zombie, and a Pumpkin Spice Moonshine. Look forward to the second Davy Jones-Dead Mans Reserve, spiced rum in mid-2016. Rusted Crow has also been aging their bourbon and rye whiskeys in the back. Sweet cherry rye whiskey is just under a year proofed down with Michigan cherry juice and the Rusted Bell Bourbon is a two-year aged Kentucky bourbon. Rusted Crow Spirits also offers tours, and does not charge before 9 p.m.

More by Sarah Rahal

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