It’s a lot less intimidating once you’ve heard that you can now zip through Death’s Door—the once treacherous passage between Wisconsin’s Washington Island and the Door Peninsula, which separate Lake Michigan from Green Bay—on a ferry. Far safer than in past centuries, Washington Island (population 650) is today known for its Washington organic, hard red winter wheat, a vital ingredient for Death’s Door Spirits’ small-batch artisanal gin, vodka and white whisky (neutral grain spirit that’s been minimally wood-aged, in this case for less than 72 hours). All three products are made in the same small 90-gallon copper pot still, in use since the company began in 2005. Especially unique, the rare citrus-free gin also boasts wild juniper berries foraged from Washington Island as well as Great Lakes area coriander and fennel.
Death’s Door white whisky is featured on the Halloween menu at Panevino Restaurant in the Reaper cocktail, along with apple schnapps, macerated black grapes and white cranberry juice (246 Via Antonio Ave, Sunset Road. and Gilespie Street). You can sample all three Death’s Door spirits at Vanguard Lounge (516 E. Fremont St.). The Broken Neck cocktail—a take on the classic Horse’s Neck—employs Death’s Door white whisky, Drambuie, honey-lemon syrup and celery bitters. The aptly named Perfect Passage combines Death’s Door gin with prickly pear puree, Domaine De Canton, cinnamon tea-infused vanilla syrup, lemon and egg white. DeathsDoorSpirits.com