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Flat Lander's creates own line of craft spirits for Barstillery™ concept

The Midtown hillbilly chic establishment shines a light on the taste and quality of their line of organic and local craft spirits.

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Flat Lander's

855 Michigan St NE

Grand Rapids, MI


Hours of Operation:

Mon-Sat: 11 a.m.-Midnight

Sunday: Noon-Midnight

Flat Lander's logo.

Flat Lander's logo. /Caitlin Hoop

In Grand Rapids there are a plethora of breweries and brewpubs that have found great success. For Gregg Palazzolo and Robert Grimes, owners of Flat Lander's (855 Michigan St NE), they are hoping the same rings true for distilleries, or in their case, Barstilleries™.

“There was something missing in Grand Rapids and we thought to be on the leading edge and come in with spirits made in Michigan,” says Grimes, “Hence the term Barstillery™, because we have our own great craft spirits.”

Barstillery™, a term actually trademarked by Palazzolo and Grimes, essentially means that, along with the usual bar fare of local beer, wine and food, Flat Lander's creates their own line of craft spirits with the help of Journeyman Distillery. The only one of its kind, nothing is usual about Flat Lander's.

“It’s hillbilly chic,” explains Palazzolo. “We took chic and midcentury furniture and juxtaposed it within the rustic charred interior and it just worked. We are taking something normal or mundane and making it incredible.”

Same can be said for their approach to craft spirits.

“Bill Welter [of Journeyman Distillery] is the artist behind the making of the product. We sit down and talk with Bill and experiment with recipes and he helps us create a well rounded offering of spirits specific to Flat Lander's,” says Palazzolo.

Currently their line of spirits include white whisky, gin, vodka, bourbon and rum. Grimes and Palazzolo are now working with Welter to introduce both a spiced rum and a tequila to their repertoire in time for their first anniversary this March. At the end of the day, all the products used in the construction of their spirits are sourced locally. Being an establishment focused on local and organic practices mattered greatly to both Grimes and Palazzolo when they approached Welter regarding distillation.

“His belief system is almost identical to ours in regards to creating Michigan made spirits. When you have something made with Michigan corn, wheat and water and then distilled perfectly, it is amazing the taste and flavor of the spirit,” says Grimes. “Starting with such great products makes Flat Lander’s drinks what they are. It’s amazing how great our drinks taste with our spirits.”

Journeyman Distillery, located in Three Oaks, Michigan, is a USDA certified organic distillery. Not only do utilizing organic grains create the highest product for a distillery, says Welter, but Michigan in itself has a wonderful source of natural ingredients, specifically the fresh water.

“Some of the best beers are coming out of Michigan and we think we can make some of the best spirits in the world due to the abundant natural resources.” he explains. “Here in Three Oaks, we have untreated water coming straight from an aquifer that provides us with a clean water source that is untainted, which goes hand in hand to create high quality spirits.” Due to the unique water source in Three Oaks, Journeyman does not have to spend time or money attempting to filter out the chlorine, flouride or ozone found in treated water. They start from scratch with the cleanest and purest form of water.

Currently Flat Lander's sources their line of spirits from Welter, but Grimes and Palazzolo are working to make the vision of having their own distillery as well as more Barstilleries™ a reality.

“What we are doing here is an experiment,” says Palazzolo. “Our little 48-seat Flat Lander's is a great place to experiment and try new things that may have never been done before in the spirits world.”

“To make a place like Flat Lander's succeed you need the right recipe," says Grimes. “You need an authentic space that is very raw and real, which is hard because many of those old buildings have been cleaned up or torn down.”

After not even a year of trial and error, it appears the Flat Lander's has hit that right formula. Palazzolo and Grimes say they love getting to know the patrons, from ages 21-91, and hearing their stories.

“I wish I could sit down and talk with everyone who walks in the doors and hear about their experiences,” says Palazzolo.

Grimes says those conversations are how their business can continue to improve.

“I want people to share their thoughts and experiences because from that we are going to grow,” he says.

“I envision big, big stuff,” exclaims Palazzolo with a smile. “I want more people to come and experience our little gem.” 

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