Liquor Goes Local

Get to know Madison's own Yahara Bay

Why buy Stoli when you can serve a premium brand distilled in your own backyard? That’s what Jim Schiavo from The Continental Fitchburg thought when a guy named Nick Quint showed up at his bar to sell his new, small-batch vodka.

“I bought it that night,” recalls Schiavo, who says his customers love the flavors of pepper, anise and caramel corn from the Honeycrisp apples and corn that Quint’s three-year-old distillery buys from Wisconsin producers.

The same goes for the gin, rum, brandy, and limoncello Schiavo stocks, all from Madison’s own Yahara Bay. Many of his ingredients are homegrown, and Quint takes pride in supporting local agriculture as part of his business model. For instance, gin calls for juniper berries, so Quint and crew hand-picked some on a recent junket to Door County.

And Schiavo and Quint are teaming up to grow wormwood, an herb extracted to produce the potent spirit absinthe, in the Continental’s outdoor gardens.

Quint’s other partnerships include contract distilling and bottling of the popular Death’s Door gin and vodka, featuring organic wheat harvested from Washington Island, as well as importing and bottling exclusive spirits and liqueurs for the high-end tasting room Vom Fass.

Quint works alongside his step-son Lars Forde, who shares his passion. On the topic of alcohol overconsumption in our state, Quint’s views are clear. “We don’t promote drinking,” he says. “But if you’re going to buy liquor from somewhere, buy ours.”

Brennan Nardi is editor of Madison Magazine.

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