NANTICOKE — You don’t have to live in Russia to make vodka. You don’t have to use potatoes either.
Jonathan and Maryann Lang offer proof positive of those two facts as they distill small batches of homemade vodka in their garage on Lee Mine Street.
“We start off with 40 gallons of water and 32 pounds of cane sugar,” Jonathan said, listing the main ingredients in 220 Shine.
The name of their vodka celebrates the small size of their distillery (220 square feet) and hearkens back to the days of moonshiners who kept an eye out for government officials.
The Langs don’t have to worry about hiding from “revenuers.” The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board decided to begin issuing limited distillery licenses in 2012, and the Langs applied for and received theirs this year.
“It’s always been a dream of ours to be in the beverage market,” Maryann said, explaining she had experience making wine and Jonathan liked to brew beer.
They considered opening a brewery or a winery, but the idea of a distillery seemed fresh and different. So they ordered a still from Mountain, Colo., and Jonathan set about installing plumbing and electricity in the garage, which they describe as “the smallest distillery in Pennsylvania.”
Lang Beverage Co., which officially opened in September, may be small at 220 square feet, but it’s large enough for an intimate group to admire the still and taste the product.
“The part of the business that appeals to us is the hospitality, with people getting together to taste it and socialize, to have a good time,” Maryann said.
For now, the Langs each have a day job. Maryann works for a furniture company, and Jonathan is an electrical inspector. And, for now, the vodka making is a sideline, with Jonathan serving as “the brains and muscle” of Lang Beverage Co. and Maryann as its “personality.”
People interested in sampling 220 Shine — and seeing if they agree with other people who have told the Langs it is sweet and has a smooth finish — can attend a tasting at 6 p.m. Friday at the R Bar and Grill, 119 E. Kirmar Ave., Nanticoke. They also can visit the Lang Beverage Co. at 128 Lee Mine St., between noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday, or arrange an appointment at 570-592-5937 or 570-606-9815.