Tavern Vinegar Company Opens at Middle West

Ayana Wilson Ayana Wilson Tavern Vinegar Company Opens at Middle West
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Gourmet vinegars are poised to be the newest culinary trend according to Brady Konya, co-founder of Middle West Spirits. And he should know. Along with his partner Ryan Lang, Konya is spearheading the movement in Columbus, which promises to be as creative as it is tasty.

Tavern Vinegar Company is the latest venture from the folks who bring us OYO Vodkas and Whiskeys. It’s a collaboration between Konya and Lang and Chef Jonathan Sawyer, who owns popular Cleveland eateries Greenhouse Tavern, Noodlecat, Sawyer’s Street Frites and Seesaw Pretzel Shoppe.

It may not seem a natural fit at first, but when one considers that Middle West has access to barrels and a microdistillery, and Chef Sawyer brings undeniable talent and out-the-box thinking to the table (he was named as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2010), it’s really a marriage made in epicurean heaven.

“With this project, we’re able to express creativity in a category more flexible than spirits,” shares Konya. “Each of us is a champion for Ohio flavors, and unapologetic about our roots. We’re proud to have this partnership, and ready to represent Ohio.”

Chef Sawyer was one of the first in the state to stock and use OYO spirits in his restaurants, and he himself has been a vinegar connoisseur for several years, making his own special small batches for use in drinks and dishes he serves at his establishments.

Getting the process out of his basement and into Middle West’s facilities has been a frenzied but wholly gratifying experience that’s resulted in a line of single origin, single varietal, barrel-aged vinegars in two primary classes: classic and select.

The flavors run the gamut, from Reisling Wine Vinegar (crafted from a blend of select Austrian Rieslings and oak-aged for 15 months) to Stout Beer Vinegar (a single-origin made from Tommyknocker Stout that’s matured 14 months in oak whiskey barrels) to Craft Beer Vinegar (my personal favorite) which is created with Paulaner Doppel Bock.

The vinegars brought Chef Sawyer’s culinary creations to life during last weekend’s preview party, which included dishes such as the Basil Fed Escargot Thaxton Garlic, finished with a rosé vinegar pistou, and the Foie Gras Steamed Clams & Brioche Toast, which sparkled with the addition of reisling wine vinegar and red onion brulée.

Even cocktails are an ideal showcase for the new line. The Whittled Rose uses OYO Stone Fruit Vodka and the Craft Beer Vinegar, while Pap’s Hollow inventively combines OYO Bourbon with the Stout Vinegar. The vinegar replaces the acid necessary to make drinks taste their best, a clever way to bring gourmet sensibility to the every day.

Customers can currently purchase Tavern Vinegar Company’s products online or on site at the distillery at 1230 Courtland Avenue in The Short North. Classic vinegars retail for $9.99 for a 200 ml. flask, $12.99 for the Select line. There will also be limited-quantity, Specialty vinegars available intermittently for $18.99.

Eat Well Distribution will handle the wholesale side of the business, bringing Tavern Vinegar’s products to bars and restaurants around the city. Konya hopes that this is the beginning of a durable direction in the culinary world, not just a passing whim.

“I think we’re gonna see more innovation in the craft vinegar industry,” adds Konya. “Partnering with Chef Jonathan brings a lot of credibility to what we’re trying to do, and I think we have the potential here for a national product.”

For more on Tavern Vinegar Company and their lineup of products, a menu of recipes, and to place your order, visit

Photo by Ayana Wilson.

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