A sweet partnership between Columbia’s Lost Ark Distilling Co., and Goetze’s Candy of Baltimore began by chance.
Brad Blackwell, owner of Lost Ark, was participating in a Taste of Howard event a few years ago, handing out samples of his rum, when he served Mitchell Goetze, owner of Goetze’s Candy.
“I had no idea it was him. He was just another customer,” Blackwell said. “He picked up my business card and called me.”
The company was looking to make a caramel liqueur featuring its star attraction since 1918 — the Goetze’s candy caramel creams or “Bulls-Eyes,” a chewy caramel with a cream center.
“We have been fortunate enough to be working in the Baltimore area for 127 years,” said Meghan Brody, vice president of strategy and operations. “We like to keep all of our partners in the Maryland area.”
Using the same ingredients, from the same sources that Goetze’s uses to make its caramels, Lost Ark debuted Caramel Creams Liqueur in November 2020.
“We quite literally make it as much like the candy as we can,” Blackwell said. “It took off so well, we decided to keep the product around all year.”
Goetze’s Candy was also pleased, according to Brody, and worked with Lost Ark again to create a liqueur based on its Caramel Brownie Cow Tails. In November, Lost Ark debuted Brownie Caramel Creams Liqueur.
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“We used it as holiday gifts and got outstanding comments,” Brody said. “It has been an awesome relationship.”
The liqueurs were popular in the fall and winter, Blackwell said, and are good stirred in coffee or in hot chocolate drinks. Both are nice after-dinner drinks, too, when “looking for something sweet,” he said.
In celebration of National Caramel Day on Tuesday, the crew at Lost Ark created specialty cocktails featuring the liqueurs. The Bullseye Milk Punch, featuring Caramel Creams Liqueur, dark rum, cream, caramel and brown sugar, and the Muddy Waters, featuring Brownie Caramel Creams Liqueur, white rum, coffee-hazelnut rum and cold brew, were well received, according to Joe Quintero, beverage director and bar consultant.
“One of my favorite parts is figuring out what cocktails to make,” Quintero said. “I have a lot to play around with.”
The first craft distillery to open in Howard County in 2016, Lost Ark Distillery prides itself on using local ingredients and keeping a close eye on every detail of the distilling process.
Operations never ceased during the pandemic, though for a period of time Lost Ark was not making rum, but hand sanitizer.
“Every year, we’re growing,” Blackwell said. “2020 was rough, but we worked through it. Who knows what the next five years hold. Some of the most successful things are done by chance.”