Walking through a liquor store or bar in your neighborhood, you might see a brightly colored bottle of vodka, whiskey or tequila bearing the label “Dr. Stoner.”
If you’re thinking Dr. Stoner’s ‘Herbal’ Liquor has something to do with marijuana, you’re not too far off.
“I was born the last name of Stoner and I’ve been a Stoner all my life, and it took me 20 years to get the doctor in front of my name,” Dr. Craig Stoner said.
Stoner was a dentist in Winchester for around 30 years. He likes to say that once he retired, he went from filling teeth to filling bottles. But when it came to finding a way to make his product stand out, he couldn’t help but make the joke.
“With the last name of Stoner, it’s kinda like ‘well, what kind of product am I gonna make?'” Stoner said.
One made to suggest the taste and aroma of cannabis, without any illegal ingredients, since liquor is regulated by the federal government. Instead, he used a blend of 19 herbs to create a craft vodka.
Marshal Middleton, a manager and bartender at Piccadilly Public House, says his customers often ask if it really tastes like marijuana. The answer?
“No,” he laughed. “The first time I ever tried it, and they asked me, blind taste test, what I thought the flavor was, I said basil, cilantro, things like that.”
It may not taste like weed, but it’s certainly popular.
Since starting with vodka in early 2017, Stoner has added tequila and whiskey to his portfolio, made over $1 million in sales, and has won several national awards for his liquor.
Although the liquors are produced at a distillery in Virginia Beach, Stoner says his products can be found in a number of restaurants and bars locally, including Piccadilly Public House, Brewbakers, Union Jack, and both the Winchester and Front Royal locations of TGIFridays.
“We’re just starting to make inroads, not only in the mom-pop kind of restaurants, bars, but also in some of the corporate ones,” Stoner said.
Dr. Stoners can currently be found in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and South Carolina, and Stoner hopes to start selling the liquors in Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas soon. He says next on his list is Colorado, parts of the West Coast, and by the end of 2019, the country as a whole.
Middleton says as far as artisan liquors go, Dr. Stoners is cheaper than most local brands, which makes it great for the bar.
“Whether you’re a vodka or a whiskey or a tequila drinker, I mean he’s pretty much got the spread across the board,” he said.