We’ve had Rhine Hall’s apple brandy a few places around town this winter (it’s available at Bottlefork, Longman & Eagle, Billy Sunday, Farmhouse and other spots), which is why it took us so long to visit the small distillery, which opened in November next to the Goose Island brewery in West Town. This was a mistake—the distillery, run by Jenny Solberg and her father, Charlie, uses Michigan apples to make a great apple brandy and oak-aged apple brandy, plus grappa. Other fruit brandies, like apricot, pear and plum are down the line.
Hours are limited (it’s open 4 hours on Thursday and 5 hours on Saturday), but it’s worth the effort to seek out the charming tasting room, which is bright with a long wooden bar. They offer five brandy cocktails ($8) and tours of the space ($10). If you want to skip the tour and just drink at the bar, which is what we did, you can still see the distilling setup through the tasting room windows: There’s a bike used to chop the apples and a beautiful copper-plated still. The drink list includes tasting portions of each spirit and simple cocktails that highlight brandy’s versatility. The apple brandy Old Fashioned is sweetened with a hint of maple syrup, while the Bobos shakes up blackberries, lemon, simple syrup and apple brandy for a tart, refreshing cocktail. Bottles are available to go and include a recipe for an easy cocktail.