Distillery and coffee bar open in Seaside

Colin and Carol Levi are the owners of It's 5 Artisan Distillery and Espresso. The Seaside location will be their first tasting room in Oregon.

Seaside shoppers have a new outlet to order coffee or artisan alcohol.

An artisan distillery tasting room and coffee bar — It’s 5 — is opening in the Factory Outlet Mall.

“They will be able to come in and grab an espresso or go to the bar,” said owner Colin Levi as he observed the interior remodel with his wife and co-owner, Carol. The espresso bar will be open mall hours serve those seeking a caffeinated buzz.

“People typically don’t start drinking until later in the day, so now we have two of the most favorite drinks — coffee and alcohol,” Carol said.

The tasting room will feature a rotating array of seasonal, artisan alcohols — including fruit brandies, gin, moonshine, ouzo, aqua vitae and a couple of whiskey varieties — each handmade using locally grown fruit and grain.

“We use quite a bit of caraway in our aqua vitae,” Colin said. They also produce an apricot and black currant liqueur, a lower-proof alternative to traditional liquor.

“As seasonal fruit becomes available, we make liqueur,” Colin said. “We do a full line of fruit brandies. It’s basically an 80-proof product distilled from fruit.” Grappa, a grape-based brandy, was a natural addition to their lineup.

“We’re in a region where there’s a lot of winemakers,” Colin explained. “After they’re done making the wine, they pour the liquid off and what’s left is the stems and seeds. They put it in a press and press the rest of the wine out and that wine is then put into a barrel. What’s left is a massive container of dried stems, seeds and skins. We take that and distill it. The alcohol that comes off is grappa. It tastes like grape but it has earthy tannins to it.

Warehouse beginnings

The distillery was born roughly a decade ago in a refurbished warehouse in Cashmere, a town of 3,000 about two hours east of Seattle. The first alcohol they produced was “pisco,” a high-proof brandy made from distilling fermented grape juice.

“It’s usually found in Chile and Peru,” Colin said. “We called it Chilean-style brandy and that’s what we started with. It was basically wine we had collected from all over the state and distilled in oak barrels for about two months.”

The moonshine and fruit brandies soon followed. The gin, produced for the past seven years, has become a best seller. The alcohol is traditionally made in 60 to 100-gallon batches.

“We only produce when we need more product to sell,” Colin said. “We don’t do a lot of distribution, most of it is out of our tasting rooms.”

The latest creation, finalized in the past few months, will debut in the Seaside tasting room.

“The aqua vitae has not been released yet,” Colin said.

Seaside will be the first place it gets released.

Over the past two years they looked to expand their business into Oregon because of favorable regulations regarding off-site tasting rooms.

“Here you can have five off-site tasting rooms plus one in the actual facility, but over there (in Washington) you can’t have any off site, so we decided to move into Seaside,” Colin said. The tasting room and coffee bar is another step into the unknown.

“We don’t know what to expect — this is completely unknown,” Colin said.

“I don’t know of a tasting room and espresso bar in a mall like this anywhere. It’s a big experiment.” For more information, visit www.its5distillery.com.

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