We’ve spent much of our adult lives around pizza and whiskey, yet, somehow Chad Kessler is currently the only one we know savvy enough smash them together.
The owner/artist/skater/alchemist behind Columbus craft distillery is proudly showing off his latest one-off creation, the Pizza Pie’Chuga, a collaboration with kindred kooks, Mikey’s Late Night Slice—and we’re all about it.
Mikey’s has even riffed a whole cocktail menu from the product—including the obvious bloody mary and a surprisingly tasty Margarita pizza cocktail.
While the rest of Columbus gets their greasy hands on a new spirit, we sat down with Kessler to pick apart how the pie came together.
The idea comes from mezcal—basically tequila’s smoky great grandfather. There’s a style called pechuga which they make down in the rural parts of Mexico for special occasions. They will put fruits and seasonal nuts in the still and then hang a chicken from the neck of the still. That fat will cook and render and fall down into it. The meatiness of the chicken then offsets the sweetness of the fruit. So my idea was that… except pizza. So … Pizza Pie’Chuga.
I reached out to Mikey’s right away because they do off-the-wall pizzas, and I love their stuff. Everybody knows who Mikey’s is, but hardly anyone knows who we are. So we wanted to do something collaborative and co-branding to help get our name out there.
It was surprisingly easy! I got really lucky. One day I went and bought some Mikey’s, threw a couple slices in the still (ate a slice, obviously), just in some white whiskey. I got a hint of pizza but not enough. I was working on gin at the same time, so I asked myself, “what are the base flavors of pizza?” I added sundried tomato, garlic, basil, pepperoni, and parmesan, and the first test batch I did came out perfect!
The whole goal when I started this was to make stuff that others weren’t making. I don’t want to make more bourbon; I don’t want to make more vodka. I think there is enough of that out there. So we are small enough, and we don’t owe any investors any money. Just to get creative, play around, make new styles of things has been the best part.
We are taking it slow. We aren’t trying to grow too big for our britches. The pizza whiskey was the first of the one-off products we are wanting to do. Being small, we have our six core products—two whiskeys, two rums, a gin, and an absinthe. Those we are always going to make, but we can take time away from production to make one-off products. The first oen I wanted to be completely out there, but we will definitely be making some more normal stuff.