Idlewild Spirits Distillery
Jeff Ruhle is a lifetime do-it-yourselfer, especially when it comes to creating masterful craft cocktails and distilling rich, flavorful spirits. So when residents of Winter Park are looking for a stiff Moscow Mule after a day on the slopes, they head down the stairs off Highway 40 to Idlewild Spirits Distillery, voted the best bar in Grand County.
Ruhle always had a passion for creating cocktails. He said he began home brewing in college before he was even legally aloud to drink, and dreamed of opening a brewery of his own one-day. After working at a friend’s brewery in Oklahoma City, he decided he needed to educate himself before taking the dive himself.
He attended business school at the University of Colorado Boulder, and opened a distilling supply company for three years to save money for his own establishment. Today, just a year after opening Idlewild, he owns the hottest bar in Winter Park.
“Honestly I can’t believe it,” said Ruhle. “If you were to ask me a year ago if we thought we’d come this far in just a year I’d say no way. I think in large part due to the locals we’ve taken off really quickly, and I can’t thank them enough for their support. It’s a great community to start a business in.”
Idlewild quickly became popular distilling their unique brands of gin, vodka, rum and whiskey, as well as numerous small plates to tide hungry guests.
“People just know that they can come in and expect to get a solid cocktail no matter what they’re ordering,” said Ruhle. “We’re not just a restaurant with a six-item cocktail list. Our goal is to be Winter Park’s first true cocktail lounge.”
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