New Spirits on the Block

Anthracite Spirits brings unique liquor and libations to Elk Avenue

By Kendra Walker 

“We’ve always enjoyed making a good cocktail. We are very much cocktail people,”

says Katie Grey of Crested Butte’s newest libations distillery and lounge, Anthracite Spirits. Katie and her husband Tim are the masterminds behind the 21+ distillery tasting room at 319 Elk Avenue, which offers locally made spirits, small bites and a cozy ambiance. 

Katie and Tim discovered Crested Butte in 2015. “We were smitten by how gorgeous the valley was,” she says. They bought a home in Riverbend and, after several years of renting it out long-term while living on the Front Range, found themselves equipped to move here full time in 2020. 

Tim was bartending at Elk Avenue Prime and Katie was in a remote sales job. “I was traveling a lot and never here to enjoy Crested Butte,” says Katie. “We were committed to staying here and ready to do something new. We wanted to find a way to entrench ourselves in the community.” 

In their pursuit of something new, they spoke with Karen Hoskins at Montanya Distillery, who was selling all her original distilling equipment. Tim and Katie attended a craft distillers conference in December 2021 to see what it would take to start their own distillery. “We felt like we could do it, and figured that best case scenario it would be something we really enjoy,” says Katie. 

They quickly dove into the world of spirits, liquor and libations. Katie quit her job in October 2022 and they hit the ground running, beginning their distilling operations out of a shop space in Riverland. 

“We wanted to make sure we had a good understanding of the important things in this industry,” says Tim. 

“We want the product to stand on its own, but we’re also making spirits to be good in cocktails. I think that’s what sets us apart from other distilleries. We’re not just thinking about the thing in the bottle but also the cocktail you’re going to drink with it. The distilling influences the cocktail just as much as cocktails influence the distilling.”

One year later, they sold their first case in November 2023 and opened the Anthracite Spirits Tasting Lounge in December 2023. The name ties into Crested Butte’s natural beauty and mining history. “Anthracite is the cleanest and hottest burning coal—we also wanted to play into the notion of distilling.” Plus, anthracite’s chalky, dark gray color ties nicely with their last name. 

They worked with local artist Luke Schroeder for the original branding concept, which includes topographical maps of the Anthracite Range. “The design is really fun. He gave us an incredible brand book that I’ve been able to run with,” says Katie. 

Katie and Tim chose gin for their leading spirit, explaining that it’s the quickest spirit to produce outside of vodka. “Gin is really entering a resurgence,” says Katie. “People are getting really creative with it, and the sky’s the limit to the flavors you can add to it.”

Gin is produced using juniper berries and other botanical ingredients to flavor an already-distilled alcohol. For their Mountain Dry Gin process, Katie explains that they start with a grain-neutral alcohol. “It’s about 190 proof when it comes out of the barrel,” she says. Then, they add the botanical ingredients, an infusing process called maceration, and let them sit in the alcohol for 24 hours. Next, they put the alcohol into a 53-gallon pot still, distill the gin and proof it down to 40% ABV. Then they bottle and label it, ready to be delivered to their tasting lounge, local liquor stores and restaurants.

Katie says some common botanical ingredients they use for flavoring the gin include juniper berries, coriander, lemon and lime zest. “Almost two pounds of lemon zest goes into one batch,” Katie laughs. “We invite our friends over for what we call ‘zest fest’ to help zest. Sometimes, we’ll zest over 200 lemons and limes at a time.”

Other botanicals she likes to experiment with include almonds, licorice root and gentian root, among other roots and florals. “The oils in the almonds create more body, and the licorice root imparts sweetness. The root elements also help seal the flavors into the spirit.”

Katie and Tim do everything themselves—from distilling and bottling to deliveries and managing the lounge. Their meticulous work and experimentation have gained attention outside their local backyard—after only a few months of operations, their Mountain Dry Gin won a silver medal from the American Craft Spirits Association.

As part of their tasting room license, any alcohol they serve must be house-made. “It’s actually really fun because it tightens the ship on what we can do,” says Katie. “Everything you drink here is house-made.” In addition to their Mountain Dry Gin, they produce an Anthracite Vodka, Red Lady Bitter Red Liqueur and White Creme de Cacao Liqueur. 

Tim says a tasting lounge is typically an afterthought to the distillery in the industry. “But the lounge is very important for us to showcase how to use our product in a delicious cocktail,” he says. They spent almost two years developing their cocktail menu. “We appreciate traditional cocktails and want to stay true to the origins of cocktail making. We want to execute those traditional flavors very well,” says Tim. “But the other half of the cocktail world is pushing boundaries, and we want to have fun with it and do a few things that are unique and different. We want to hit both of those.” Katie agrees, comparing it to her background and degree in graphic design. “You learn the rules first, so you can break them later.”

Katie says one of her favorite cocktails on their menu is Goldwyn’s Odyssey, which includes their house-made Mountain Dry Gin, Big B’s apple cider, Earl Grey tea, cranberry juice and cinnamon syrup. Tim’s favorite is the Negroni, which combines their gin, Red Lady Bitter Red Liqueur and a house-made sweet red vermouth derived from a de-alcoholized red wine with added bittering ingredients. But when in doubt, they say you can never go wrong with a classic gin and tonic (see their recipe on page 61).

Katie and Tim have a small staff of bartenders at the lounge and hope to continue offering quality employment for locals as they grow their operations. 

“A big goal of ours is to get to a point where we can hire people who want to learn and grow in this industry. We are fully vested in the success of this community and want to be a resource for people,” says Tim. “This is a very community-focused business.”

Katie and Tim plan to extend that community focus further by partnering with other local businesses and hosting events, including game nights, live music, book club evenings, group runs and mountain bike rides. “We’d love to bring people together who wouldn’t normally interact,” says Tim. “We want to continue to offer interesting and unique products and be a resource for the community.”

They also serve small bites, desserts and non-alcoholic cocktails in the tasting lounge, and their spirits are available at several other local establishments, including Mountain Spirits, Treasury Liquors, Acme Liquors, Elk Avenue Prime, the Hideout and A Bar Above. 

They plan to continue expanding their offerings, adding brandy, rum and more liquors, including a coffee liqueur using another local favorite, First Ascent coffee. Katie also hopes to release a wildflower gin every summer in honor of Crested Butte’s “Wildflower Capital of Colorado” status. 

So far, the response to the tasting lounge has been very positive, they say. “We really wanted to create a space with good ambiance, where you can hear each other and enjoy a darn good cocktail. We like going to bars like this. It’s a fun energy in there,” says Katie. “We’re excited to be a part of the community and be a place for the community to gather.”

Anthracite G&T Recipe


– A botanical gin, like Anthracite Mountain Dry Gin

– Tonic water

– Cucumber, sliced

– Mint leaves

– Lime, cut into wedges

– Ice


– Mixing glass (if you don’t have one, a wide bottom-glass works well)

– Bar spoon 

– Jigger (or other liquid measuring tool)

– Muddler

– Hawthorn Strainer

Recipe (makes one G&T)

2 oz Gin

2 slices cucumber

3 mint leaves

Top with tonic

Combine gin, cucumber and mint in mixing glass and gently muddle. Pour into glass, straining with the hawthorn strainer (pro tip: if you have a mesh cone strainer, a “double strain” is useful for this cocktail). Fill glass to rim with ice and top with your favorite tonic. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge and enjoy!