The small-batch distillery opened in 2016 as Square Peg Distillery. In 2018, Calame chose a new name in part to honor the “Leanderthal Lady,” the name for prehistoric remains found in the city in 1982.
In May, Leanderthal Distilling inked an agreement with a Houston-based liquor distributor.
A tasting room, dubbed Leanderthal Lounge, opened in early December with a series of soft openings at 11894 Hero Way W., Leander.
Calame, who co-owns the business with Shari Kolding, said he uses the tasting room to promote Leanderthal’s seven bottled spirits.
The cocktail price points should intrigue even the most frugal Leander consumer, he said. Most cocktails cost $4, with the Maple Old Fashioned, at $6, being the most expensive.
“We’re not here to make money off the drinks,” Calame said. “We want to showcase our bottles and promote bottle sales,” which range in price from $13.99-$29.50, he said.
According to Texas state law, Leanderthal customers can only purchase two bottles from the distillery every 30 days, according to Calame. The distillery must also only use alcohol sold by the business. No outside spirits can legally be sold or used in drinks.
Calame said he has had some fun with his drinks’ names, such as the No Russian Collusion, a coffee liqueur drink with milk and dark coffee shavings that tastes similar to a White Russian.
“We’re not being political,” he said. “It just indicates there’s no Russian vodka in the drink.”
He has also localized some of his drinks’ names. Instead of a Moscow Mule, he offers a Bagdad Burro.
Calame said he also helps his business neighbors by listing nearby restaurants on a chalkboard in the tasting room. Tasting room customers are welcome to bring in food to enjoy with their Leanderthal Distilling libations, he said.
Calame said he also plans to hang locally produced art in the tasting room at no cost to the artist.
No one under 21 is permitted in the lounge, according to Calame.