Ghost Town Herbs
A ghost town might not rank high on an ideal list of locations when setting up a new business. But for Shae Whitney, owner of Dram Apothecary in Silver Plume, Colorado, it fit the bill. Silver Plume is a former silver mining town (pop. 169), located 45 minutes west of Denver. Much of the town remains true to its late 19th-century conditions, when it was at the peak of its population.
Shae, who studied food science and herbalism in college, outgrew her kitchen after one year in business, with Dram Apothecary often jammed with eager customers each business day. Shae and partner Brady Becker were instantly drawn to a town others might call unusual. “We chose to set up shop here because we absolutely loved the building we found.”
People come for Shae’s handmade bitters, teas and syrups which are inspired by the plants for which she forages seasonally. “This winter, the only plants to forage on our trail hikes were largely pine, juniper berries and rosehips, so I came up with two syrup recipes to make use of this harvest.” Her locally sourced creations also received a boost from renewed interests in cocktail culture.
The store launches products twice a year, depending on what is being made. “Teas are faster to launch because they are easy to blend and package,” Shae explains. “Bitters and syrups take more time to produce, so we like to make sure we have the time to commit.
Most of the time we’ll make a new product and put it on the shelves at our shop to test how it’s received by our customers before we take it to the public at large.” Shae’s thriving small-town business is a success story in doing things your own way, and sourcing and serving locally. “Our friends and family thought we were insane at first,” Shae says. “Setting up shop in a ghost town isn’t exactly normal, but we haven’t had a hard time getting people to visit.”
RECIPES WITH BITTERS:
- The Culinary Chronicles: Moscow Mules
- Rachel Cook Thai: Thai Inspired Basil Margarita with Spicy Thai Bitters
- Food and Style: Bourbon Sidecar with Lemon Bitters
- Sandwich Sunday: Rosemary Cocktail Duo
- Global Table Adventure: Nigerian Chapman Cocktail
- Post Prohibition: Thus Always to Tyrants