Ink Food & Drink

A Kansas City spin on gin

Nathan Perry, (left) head distiller, and Tom Nichol at the J. Rieger Distillery, 2700 Guinotte Ave.
Nathan Perry, (left) head distiller, and Tom Nichol at the J. Rieger Distillery, 2700 Guinotte Ave.

The East Bottoms distillery already winning national awards for its whiskey and vodka launches its Midwestern Dry Gin today.

The gin caps a busy year for J. Rieger. It has installed two stills, plus all the equipment that goes with them, and a bottling line. And it has released a trio of spirits: Kansas City Whiskey, Midwestern Premium Vodka and now Midwestern Dry Gin.

They’re all sold in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. While more states will surely follow, company co-founder Andy Rieger says building its brand is now the priority.

“We’re trying to set ourselves up for the next 20 to 30 years,” says Rieger, whose family founded the original J. Rieger & Co. in 1887, only to see it go out of business during Prohibition. “You only get one shot at a first impression.”

Tom Nichol, until recently master distiller of Tanqueray gin, crafted J. Rieger & Co.’s Midwestern Dry Gin with a fairly conventional combination of juniper, coriander seed, dried angelica root, dried orange peel and powdered licorice root. What sets it apart isn’t an outrageous or secret ingredient, but quality.

“I said, ‘If you want me to make a gin for you, you need to get me the best botanicals,’ ” Nichol recalls. “And they did that. It made me really, really happy.”

The company’s goal is to grow steadily and sustainably while remaining rooted in all the independent craft creativity that is Kansas City.

“We want to be a hometown distillery with this wonderful history, this wonderful story and long-term legacy,” company co-founder Ryan Maybee says. “We want to be committed to making products people can be proud of.”

Reach Anne Brockhoff, at

Buyers guide

J. Rieger & Co. Midwestern Dry Gin (the list price at time of publication was expected to be less than $30 per 750 milliliter bottle, 46.1 percent alcohol by volume) is available at retailers on both sides of the state line beginning this week. Call ahead for availability. For more information about J. Rieger & Co. and its products, go to

Bittermens Orange Cream Citrate ($20, 44 percent ABV) is described by its maker as “sweet, sour, tart and creamy.” It’s available at Gomer’s Midtown (3838 Broadway) and Mike’s Wine and Spirits in Brookside (21 W. 63rd St.).

Farmhouse Fizz

This cocktail by J. Rieger & Co. co-founder Ryan Maybee is a nod to master gin distiller Tom Nichol’s penchant for Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Tank 7 beer.

Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 ounce J. Rieger & Co. Midwestern Dry Gin

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

3/4 ounce Vanilla Syrup (instructions below)

1 egg white

4 drops Bittermens Orange Cream Citrate (see Buyers Guide)

1 ounce Boulevard Tank 7 beer

Orange twist, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except the Tank 7 in a mixing glass and shake without ice. Add ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass (no ice), and top with beer. Garnish with orange twist.

Vanilla Syrup: Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 1 vanilla bean (split in half) in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain into a clean container and store in the refrigerator.

Per drink: 170 calories (none from fat), no fat, no cholesterol, 10 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 58 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.


Tom Nichol and J. Rieger’s partners celebrated the creation of its Midwestern Dry Gin with this classic. “The orange peel plays with the Campari really, really well, and the big full-bodied texture goes great with Carpano Antica vermouth,” Ryan Maybee says.

Makes 1 drink

1 ounce J. Rieger & Co. Midwestern Dry Gin

1 ounce Campari

1 ounce Carpano Antica Formula vermouth

Orange twist, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with orange.

Per drink: 183 calories (none from fat), no fat, no cholesterol, 2 grams carbohydrates, no protein, 9 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber.