Niko Georgiadis spends a lot of his time monitoring, tinkering and waiting as he makes vodka right in Western New York at Lockhouse Distillery, Buffalo's first such operation since prohibition. After two years of planning, Lockhouse vodka debuted in November. 1,000 bottles sold out in just 45 minutes.
"On several occasions, people lined up to buy the stuff and we ran out," Georgiadis says. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was going to come off the way it did."
The vodka process starts with fermented grapes from Freedom Run Winery in Niagara County. Georgiadis proofs it down to make vodka. It's a precise process that that learned from his Greek father who used to make homemade wine. "As a hobbyist, I knew how to do it and I was living in New York and being a stubborn Buffalo guy, I couldn't reconcile the fact that a shot of Jameson was $12. It kind of burned me up inside," he said.
So he started making his own moonshine to try and beat the system and it led to business opportunity. Georgiadis says retailers and bars are anxious to carry the vodka, which sells as fast as Lockhouse can make it. An expansion is in the works at Lockhouse's facility, at the Great Arrow building in Buffalo. It calls for more space and more custom stills.
Lockhouse is planning an open house on January 18 where they will sell the next batch of vodka. Lockhouse hopes to say cheers with a line of gin by St. Patrick's Day while whiskey should be ready in about a year.