By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 16, 2020 at 12:51 PM

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As news has spread that craft distilleries around the country – including Republic Restoratives in Washington D.C. and Hotel Tango in Indianapolis – are making hand cleaners with the alcohol they’ve distilled, Central Standard Distillery in Milwaukee says it will convert some of its high-proof vodka into disinfectant spray that it will offer free to high-risk groups.

Though the Milwaukee distillery – whose Walker’s Point tasting room is closed while Central Standard builds a new one on Clybourn Avenue Downtown – had been discussing this internally in order to work out the details, news leaked out on Twitter Sunday.

"Our entire Central Standard Craft Distillery team is moving fast to help in this time of need," says co-owner Evan Hughes. "Our master distiller and his team are quickly converting our high-proof vodka into a disinfectant spray that we’ll provide for free to those highest as risk, such as nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, critical care centers and first responders."

The distillery will use a formula from the Centers for Disease Control and its supplier WB Bottling is providing bottles at no cost, Hughes adds.

"Our initial run of 1,000 bottles will be ready for distribution this Wednesday at the latest and possibly as soon as tomorrow morning."

If you are one of the high-risk groups listed above and have an urgent need for disinfectant spray, please call Pat McQuillan at (414) 455-8870.

"If any bottles from this first run remain, we will also make them available for free to all Milwaukeeans at our distillery starting Thursday," says Hughes.

"We plan to continue to make disinfectant spray and provide it to those in need for free as long as there is a need in our community."

Brian Sammons, owner of Bay View's Twisted Path Distillery – who announced this morning that he’s closing his tasting room to the public for the time being – is interested in the idea of making a sanitizer of some kind and is looking into it.

"First we're checking with high-risk institutions that are the most likely to be impacted by supply chain issues, in particular, homeless shelters," he says. "If they have a need, we will provide high proof alcohol for sanitization until official suppliers are available again.

"Second, we are investigating whether the retail-level shortages are momentary – as in restocking shelves from regional warehouse stocks – or are a longer-term real shortage. If it looks like it might be a shortage for more than a few days, we may begin selling 70 percent alcohol vodka (140 proof) at the distillery – the only way we can legally do it."

Sammons says he doesn't know what the price would be for that vodka, but he says it would be reasonable.

"We do not want to profiteer on this crisis, but we will have to cover costs to keep operating. Since we are closing the tasting room and trying to do right by our staff while closed, this will be difficult."

At the moment, Handen in Cedarburg and Milwaukee's Great Lakes Distillery have no plans to do this.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.