Posted by Vasilis Keisoglou on CosmosPhilly.com
Wildwood, NJ – The famed 14th century elixir, tsipouro introduced by Greek Monks, has now made it’s home in the USA. This past week in Wildwood, New Jersey, the first legally licensed distiller, Lazy Eye Distillery, opened their second store, and has begun to make and distribute their product.
Tsipouro has been around North America for about a century, when Greek immigrants started making it in their homes. Although the world is familiar with ouzo, tsipouro has now climbed into popular ranks and has become the drink of choice for most Greeks in Greece and around the world.
With it’s popularity growing and the next generation of North Americans looking to keep their Greek culture and history alive, the Kafkalas’, Nick and Carol, decided it was time to put their own brand on the shelf for everyone to enjoy. Inspired by their grandparents and a trip to Greece, they’ve created a drink that “pays tribute to the ‘Greek Spirit’ of our parents and grandparents and the values that they instilled upon us,” says their website.
In southern Greece, tsipouro is called raki, while in the North, the term tsipouro is used for the grape based drink. Lazy Eye Distillery has added an i in “raki” for legal purposes and not to be confused with the anise-flavored Turkish alcoholic drink “raki.” Call it what you will, at Lazy Eye Distillery it’s a Greek-American family run business with Nick, Carol, Nick Jr. and Brother Anthony. The four are out to conquer the market.
Over one hundred members from the surrounding community, including the mayor of Wildwood and the mayor of Buena Vista, where their first store is located, came out for a ribbon cutting ceremony and a sampling of their products at their new store (132 E. Spicer Ave, Wildwood). The new store features a distilling and tasting room and it’s location is just a few blocks from the beach, where they hope to make a splash.
Two additional products, a vodka and cocktail mix, were also introduced to the attendees. Carol and Nick said “we are vodka drinkers and wanted to share our tastes and that’s how we got started.” The two worked on their products for several years, by making their own home brew, before deciding it was time to research the market.
The timing was perfect. New Jersey was just in the process of granting distillery licenses for the first time and the Kafkalas’ were number three on the list of applicants to receive official notice. Just a little over seven months ago, they opened their first distillery in Buena Vista New Jersey.
The first location is where the big distilleries are and where Nick and Carol spend most of their time hosting taste tests to visitors and tourists on the weekend. Lazy Eye Distillery products are now in 25 different area bars, restaurants, and stores in New Jersey and growing. In the coming year, they will be expanding to Pennsylvania and Delaware.