When you step inside the tasting room at Two James distillery, you’re not just a customer – you’re family. The bartenders go out of their way to make you feel at home while serving high quality, handmade craft spirits produced only from locally sourced ingredients.
The Spirit of Detroit
Located in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, Two James was founded in 2012 and is the first licensed distillery in Detroit since Prohibition. When the tasting room first opened its doors, the city wasn’t experiencing the growth it is today. Having been raised in metro Detroit, founder and owner David Landrum recognized the city’s potential and wanted to be a part of reinvigorating Corktown.
“David wanted to revitalize the neighborhood and make sure at the heart of what we’re doing, we’re embracing Michigan,” said Erika Rice, Office Manager at Two James.
This also meant embracing the state’s history. As a nod to Michigan’s role during Prohibition, the distillery’s 28 Island Vodka is so named for a chain of islands in the Detroit River where bootleggers from Canada would take spirits to be smuggled into the city. Likewise, the J. Riddle whiskey label pictures a fox and is a reference to Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters president who was last seen at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township in 1975.
Commitment to Sustainability
Two James was founded on the belief that community is a vital component of business. That’s why the distillery works hard to help Detroit and the state of Michigan prosper by supporting local farmers and maintaining sustainable business practices.
“Farmers are the backbone of everything in our life,” said Erika. “If we can support Michigan farms and help a local family, it just makes sense.”
The distillery also works to protect the environment by recycling and being as mindful as possible during each step of the distilling process. Most recently, Two James enrolled in DTE’s MIGreenPower program, which will attribute the distillery’s energy use to Michigan wind and solar parks.
“It’s a no-brainer to enroll in MIGreenPower,” said Erika. “Climate change is something we’re all facing, and as long as we can afford to make the investment, we should. If we as a small company can pay just a little more to do what we can in the moment, we hope to inspire other companies to do the same.”
One Big Family
For Two James, protecting the environment goes along with the emphasis on being a family and working for the greater good. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the distillery pivoted to produce hand sanitizer using the resources at its disposal. The hand sanitizer was distributed at no charge to first responders, hospitals, and other vital institutions in the community.
“It’s important to do good and to do it without the expectation of a reward,” said Erika. “We’re just doing the right thing because that’s what you should do.”
Two James prioritizes togetherness within the walls of the tasting room as well as in the greater community. The cocktail menu, made with all craft spirits produced in house, changes seasonally and is curated by the staff. Each staff member can create their own recipe and has a hand in everything the distillery does.
“The people who have been here long term, we’re like a family,” said Erika. “We take care of each other.”
If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint, consider enrolling in DTE’s MIGreenPower program. You can sign up for as little as $1 a month and attribute your energy use to Michigan-made renewable energy. Visit migreenpower.com to learn more.