On Dec. 10, 1,000 or so people lined up in 30-degree weather to buy a bottle of Firestone & Robertson’s TX Bourbon, the first straight bourbon ever made in Fort Worth.
Clearly, people will go a metaphorical long way for this bourbon. But then there’s Steve Ecker of Syracuse, N.Y., who drove 1,650 miles one way this month to pick up a case of Chocolate Peanut Butter Liqueur from the lesser-sung Cold Hammer Stills, based in east Fort Worth, not far from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
“You can’t get this liquor up in New York, and I tried it when I was down here in October, and I liked it so much that I decided to come down and get some so I could pass it on to some of my friends in New York,” said Ecker, who picked up his case last week at Goody Goody Liquor’s Colleyville location. “If you like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, you’ll like this. I love the stuff, and that’s what it reminds me of.”
Ecker is a member of Boozefighters, a national motorcycle club that’s based in Fort Worth, which he visited in October for a national club meeting. Boozefighters describes itself on its website as “ a brotherhood of bikers who join together to promote our love of riding motorcycles and our vision of the American biker lifestyle. We are very patriotic and support the US military!”
According to Star-Telegram archives, Boozefighters has also participated in toy and canned-food drives for the needy and the homeless, including the annual Texas Toy Run that takes place in December. Despite its name, however, it is not anti-alcoholic beverages.
Dan Vallot, owner of Cold Hammer Stills, says that it’s illegal to ship liquor, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and federal laws. Hence, Ecker’s road trip.
Vallot accompanied Ecker to the store. He said in an email alerting us to Ecker’s 3,330-mile round trip that he was almost speechless when Ecker contacted him.
“The reaction we usually get is that once you taste it, you fall in love with it,” Vallot said at the store. “But for this gentleman to do this, it kind of caught us off-guard. We were very humbled by that.”
Ecker’s route took him through Nashville, the better to avoid lake-effect snows and subfreezing temperatures along a more northern route. Even then, he opted against riding his Harley (which he rode to Fort Worth in October) in favor of warmer wheels.
By now, he should be back in snowy Syracuse.
Coincidentally, we also had our first taste of the liqueur in October, during Fort Worth Weekly’s inaugural Fort Worth Cocktail Week, which launched with a “Texas Spirits Tasting Party” featuring Cold Hammer, Firestone & Robertson and other (mostly) North Texas-based distilleries.
“Yes, this Reese’s in a glass sounds like it’s for people too wimpy for a straight shot of whiskey,” I wrote then, “but at 70 proof, it packs a punch, and has a pretty good burn to go along with the sweet flavor.”
Cold Hammer’s liqueurs are steadily gaining momentum in retail stores across DFW — although Goody Goody did not carry them as of Ecker’s visit. But Vallot says that people showing such passion helps him get his products onto more store shelves.
Cold Hammer leans sweet with its offerings: Its other flavors include Almond Enjoy (you can probably guess what that’s modeled after), Chocolate Cappuccino, Gas Light Cinnamon and something called Black Widow, a 107-proof liqueur described as having “a spicy herbal flavor with a slight smokiness. A nose of cloves, cinnamon and ginger with hints of cardamom and allspice.”