“There’s not a bad seat in the house…or should I say barn,” jokes Michelle Alig, owner of Waterman’s Distillery, along with her husband Joseph Alig, in Apalachin, New York. It’s one of a growing number of distilleries that host comedy nights.
While the primary purpose of a distillery is, of course, to produce and sell spirits, most have another asset: physical space. Some take advantage of that with live music or formal events like weddings. But a growing number have found comedy events to be a popular draw for on-site tasting rooms and cocktail bars, particularly in areas where traditional comedy clubs may be scarce.
“We started about a year ago, not long after we opened,” says Alig. “In our area, we recognized a need for these types of shows.”
After a few sold-out trial runs, Waterman’s now hosts monthly shows and works with Andrew Mushalla, a booker, to bring in rising stars and recognizable names like Ryan Niemiller from America’s Got Talent and Dustin Diamond of Saved By The Bell fame. Waterman’s, which makes white whiskey from corn grown in the Finger Lakes region plus a number of flavored spirits, offers nightly cocktail specials at the bar named after the comedians.
No kidding, here’s a shortlist of six distilleries that feature comedy events. And just for fun, we also asked comedians who perform at these venues to share their favorite pours — of course, not all the replies were 100% serious. But as Alig says, “Who doesn’t like to laugh?”
On the first Saturday of each month, “Cocktails & Humor” takes place at CH Distillery’s West Loop tasting room, The Bar & Table, as giant silver tanks of vodka provide the backdrop. The acts are brought in by Team Us Comedy, and there’s a two-drink minimum per guest.
Favorite drink: La Croix —Tyler Fowler
Usually held the first Friday of each month, typical shows at Griffo Distillery feature three or four comedians. The bar opens two hours before showtime.
Favorite drink: “A beautiful Bourbon neat is my favorite [drink], but when trying to be classy, I enjoy any mix of Bourbon, citrus, spice or bitterness. So still Bourbon, lol.” —Bethany Van Delft
Three Oaks, Michigan
Fittingly, Journeyman Distillery’s “Comedy on the Rocks” event, held every few months, was conceived by Max Tidey, a Journeyman employee who is also a stand-up comedian/producer. Shows take place in the Still Room, where an expansive glass wall behind the stage provides a view of the whiskey-producing stills. The next scheduled show is December 27.
Favorite drink: “I really like coffee-related cocktails. One we had at Journeyman was called the Wake and Jake. Cold-brew coffee, Bourbon, orange simple syrup and egg white.” —Max Tidey
Marble Distillery’s Facebook page has all the details on its monthly shows. They’re usually on a Saturday around the middle of the month, either held at the Carbondale tasting room or at Marble’s Aspen outpost. What stays the same: tickets are $10, with no drink minimum.
Favorite drink: Old Fashioned —Kyle Pogue
New York Distilling
Brooklyn, New York
The Williamsburg producer of Dorothy Parker Gin, Ragtime Rye and other high-end spirits, New York Distilling hosts the Dan & Joe Show every Tuesday night, with hosts Joe Pera and Dan Licata. They curate a lineup that has included headliners like David Cross, Julio Torres, Chris Gethard and Janeane Garofalo. The show is free, and drink specials flow at the Shanty bar.
Favorite drinks: Blue Christmas (Hypnotiq with a candy cane) —Joe Pera
Night Cap (Captain Morgan and NyQuil) —Dan Licata
Apalachin, New York
Monthly comedy nights at this intimate venue feature themed specials at the bar. September brought a Ladies Night that featured only women on stage. Comedian Kevin Lee is slated for October 18.
Favorite cocktail: Bloody Mary
Favorite wine: Pinot Noir —Stacey Prussman