Leah Howard, co-owner of H&H Distillery and creative mind behind many delicious cocktails, sat down with us to talk about her craft cocktail journey in Beer City, USA. And trust us, the Ginger Rose Smash pairs great with her story.
What got you started in the distillery business?
The brewing industry in Asheville could only lead to one thing: a craft drinking mecca. We don't love beer, but we do love a good craft cocktail. Being Asheville natives, we wanted to bring something of value, with a unique flavor to our favorite city. The idea grew over the course of a few years, and we launched H&H Distillery. We are privileged to be able to extend our brand to Cultivated Cocktails, a perfect addition for our thriving craft city.
What challenges do you face as a woman in a male-dominated industry?
I have to say, this industry has been most welcoming to me as a female. I currently serve on the board for the Distillers Association of North Carolina, speak as a voice of knowledge to prominent entities across the state and have made life-long friends. If ever there was an industry that chooses to see hard work and knowledge rather than gender, in my experience, it's the distilling industry. That being said, outside the industry, I do sometimes receive some interesting looks from people after they realize I do actually have some knowledge! I think we are moving away from the stereotype of males in overalls making spirits; we may have a way to go, though.
What's the most life-changing decision you've ever made? How did it impact you?
My son was my most life-changing moment. I suppose that may not totally count as a decision, but it was certainly a life-altering moment to find out I was suddenly responsible for a life. Setting the example for my son that women can be leaders, as he watches me every day at work, almost brings me to tears. He's a worker bee, learning from example. I never thought that every moment of my work day would be assessed by my most critical boss, but he won't let me miss a beat. He follows his dad around the distillery learning and being hands-on. Our staff is all so loving toward him. Deciding to integrate him into our work has been the best decision we've made. Whether he grows up to continue the distillery or does something completely different, I'm confident he'll do it with all his heart.
Do you have any advice to women starting out their own entrepreneurship?
Think about it, plan it, save for it. Don't wait until the time is right. Dive in. Work hard, play hard and love it all. Find good people to work with. If not for my family, my husband and his father, I wouldn't be doing this job. Find the tribe that supports the dream.
What's your favorite cocktail at the moment? Will you share the recipe?
Gin-ger Rose Smash
- 2 ounces Hwy 9 Gin
- 3/4 ounce rose simple syrup
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- 4-5 mint leaves
- 3 ginger coins
To make rose simple syrup, add 1 cup of dried rose petals with 1 cup each of sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Simmer 3-5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely.
Muddle mint and ginger coins with rose simple in shaker. Add ice and lemon juice and shake. Add gin and roll around shaker. Double strain into rocks glass. Add ice and garnish with rose petals and lemon wheel.