This article originally appeared in Winter 2014: Issue No. 32 of Edible Brooklyn.
When Josh Morton began making commercial quantities of ginger liqueur, one of the many unexpected outcomes was the intense workouts. Recently Morton, 44, was undertaking the backbreaking, bicep-burning task of unloading a dozen 50-pound bags of cane sugar. That’s because what began as an innocent experiment at his former Manhattan apartment on Barrow Street has expanded from a few bottles for fun to manning the production of an average of 300 bottles per month — and growing. Morton hadn’t planned for the ginger-infused project to take root. Ten years ago, he was perfectly content as the owner of a small business management–consulting firm. Even during day-dreamy speculations, he never imagined working in craft spirits — but he did dip his hands into kitchen experiments. Josh and his wife, artist Susan Weinthaler, frequently hosted dinner parties where Josh would excitedly share his latest mad scientist projects, infusing spirit with everything from blood oranges to peaches to horseradish. It wasn’t until a chef friend showed him the beautiful, heady flavors in real homemade Italian limoncello that Morton’s trajectory began to shift. Josh decided to replace the traditional lemon with ginger, the Morton family’s favorite flavor, in the limoncello formula and began creating a few bottles in their Barrow Street loft, tinkering with the formula, adding yet more ginger and reducing the sugar, before nonchalantly trying it out on a few dinner party guinea pigs.