Vodka distillery to open in Kinston, NC

Kinston, a former textile and tobacco town located 90 miles east of Raleigh, will add another gastronomic attraction to its growing roster of eateries with the establishment of a craft distillery by Social Beverage Co.

The N.C. Department of Commerce said Friday that Social Beverage will create 34 jobs and invest $5.8 million in the project. If the Raleigh-based company meets its hiring and investment targets, it will qualify to receive a $68,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund and matching local grants.

The company plans to revitalize a historic property in Kinston and produce a “farm-to-flask” liquor called Social House Vodka.

“The distillery will adhere to rigorous standards for sourcing its essential ingredients from natural and organic farming, creating a gluten-free product made with North Carolina corn sourced within 50 miles of the facility,” the commerce department said in its announcement.

Social Beverage president Cary Joshi could not be reached for comment Friday. In October, the company reported it raised $400,000 through a private stock offering.

In the commerce department announcement, Joshi said: “The relationships we’ve formed with local farmers, interest from the local community, and the emerging art, culinary and craft spirits scene in downtown Kinston, present the perfect foundation to establish our distillery as a gathering place.”

Kinston’s downtown renaissance traces back to the 2006 founding of the Chef & The Farmer restaurant by acclaimed New York chef Vivian Howard and her husband Ben Knight. Howard has been featured in a PBS documentary and cooking series entitled “A Chef’s Life,” which began its fourth season this fall.

Kinston’s restaurant row includes an oyster bar, a taqueria, an Asian fusion bar, a deli, pizzeria, cafes and a tap room.

John Murawski: 919-829-8932, @johnmurawski