- Associated Press - Sunday, November 12, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Brad and Stacey Sipp can pinpoint the exact moment they decided they wanted to open a craft distillery in downtown Lincoln.

The couple had stopped at Pinckney Bend Distillery in New Haven, Missouri, and hit it off with the people there while sipping craft cocktails. When they got in their car to leave, Brad looked over at Stacey, and Stacey looked over at Brad.

“We were like, let’s do this,” said Brad, a local attorney with a focus on criminal and family law.

With that, the idea of Freestyle Craft Distilling Company was born.

In a couple weeks, they’ll start converting a building in the middle of the block between Iasan & Sebastian Studio Salon and El Charro into a tasting room with a still in the back and gallery space in the front on the first floor and six law offices on the second floor.

Thursday, light poured through the windows of the already framed, upstairs space where Brad will move his office and have space for five other attorneys.

But it’s what will be on the main floor that has the couple most excited.

They’ve been visiting distillers around the country to get tips, going to workshops and doing their homework about what works and what doesn’t.

They’re buying a high-tech still from Poland and will distill vodka, gin, moonshine, rum and whiskey to be served in the tasting room and available off-sale. They’ll start with a blended whiskey until they can age their own.

“We just want to make something that’s really easy to drink,” said Brad, a self-described gin fanatic.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the distillery is expected to be Lincoln’s first in modern times, and one of only a handful in the state.

Stacey said they’ll use Nebraska corn to make their liquors. They like the idea of local.

She’s been collecting mid-century modern furniture, gold mirrors and cool light fixtures for an eclectic, bohemian vibe.

“It’s a place to go and put your feet up; it’s a place to chill,” she said.

It will be a grown-up place to drink, Stacey said.

Brad said it won’t have a bar vibe. They’re looking to attract the 30-to-60-age set who can come in, take a tour and have a drink before heading to dinner.

In time, they hope to expand from hours on Fridays and Saturdays and to add a speakeasy downstairs.

For the past 20 years, the space has been almost a black hole in the middle of the block, used as a storage space by the previous owner.

“Some people might just see this as a house of horrors,” Brad said, standing beside Stacey in a shell of a room, the brick walls exposed and floor unfinished. “But this truly is our dream.”

He said they’ll keep plugging away on nights and weekends until it’s done.

They hope to open next spring.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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