CROWN POINT- Milosh Cassavettes’ family has owned and operated restaurants in Northwest Indiana since the 1930s, but his newest venture is the family’s first foray into the world of craft beverages.
After decades managing The Pythagorean, a family restaurant in Hammond his parents owned along with his aunt and uncle, Cassavettes has set his sight on Crown Point’s square as the perfect location for his new concept. “Bass and Proof” will be Northwest Indiana’s first food and beverage establishment to focus on hand crafted malt liquors and alcoholic energy drinks produced-on-site.
“I was aware of the location because several people I knew had run into legal troubles over the years” Cassavettes explained. “Not with any specific owner or business that had been located there, but all of them, at least since the 1990s. It just seems to be a location that draws a bad element and brings out the worst in people, so I figured it would be available eventually.”
“I worked in my parents’ restaurant in Hammond 65 hours a week. I never thought I’d have my own place, but when they decided to close because they couldn’t handle the 80 hour weeks once they reached their 70s, I had to do something else. I never got out much on the weekends, but there was a period in 2004 where I was going to bars and clubs in the area with my cousin about twice a month. I remember all the things that did really well with people and I’ve been reading about trends in the industry constantly since then. I’m sure this concept is exactly what will succeed in Northwest Indiana while addressing the newest trends in dining and drink that are going overlooked.”
“We also plan to have a rotating seasonal offering of alcoholic sodas with caffeine and taurine. Flavors like blue raspberry, banana mango, and green apple, something to address the market that Four-Loko’s absence has created.” – Milosh Cassavettes
“We knew we had to focus first on developing a flagship house malt-liquor that people would associate with our brand, possibly something we could get into stores and paper bags in the area. The Bass and Proof Big 64oz Lager Flavored Slugger is all of that. It’s 25 proof, drinkable at room temperature if you’ve had at least 30 oz of it, and it doesn’t go flat because it comes in a small mouth. It even has a little glass handle at the top to string your thumb through that makes it harder to drop.”
But big, malty offerings aren’t the only thing malt liquor is about and Cassavettes knows the history of the drink category.
“We definitely wanted to have bottle service as part of a premium offering for those who were drinking on premise, so we knew we wanted to do a tribute to the champ-ale style lighter malt liquors of the 1970s. We haven’t named it yet, but we’ll have a 32 proof blush rosé champ-ale that will be served with flutes and ice. We also plan to have a rotating seasonal offering of alcoholic sodas with caffeine and taurine. Flavors like blue raspberry, banana mango, and green apple, something to address the market that Four-Loko’s absence has created.”
A long list of repairs and upgrades to the property are underway to prepare for the brewery’s opening.
“Nobody seems to really want to get a party atmosphere going in Crown Point these days, so we really see that as an opportunity to set ourselves apart. The dancing cage was easy enough to have a local contractor construct from plumbing nipple, but some of the other material improvements to the property have been a challenge. We were able to sell a lot of the woodwork to renovation suppliers as ‘reclaimed,’ which has helped us cover the cost of the video poker machines. But money isn’t the only challenge, we’ve really had our work cut out for us sourcing enough mirror tiles to cover the entirety of the walls.”
Cassavettes told us that the kitchen and brewing facilities were even more challenging.
“With so many small brewers opening and growing larger in the past decade, a lot of stainless steel tanks are available on the market. We ran our test batches through one of those and quickly found that if you want the authentic
malt liquor body and mouthfeel, you pretty much need to start with food-grade bathtubs. Thankfully, we found a company in Wisconsin that was able to meet our needs for those if we could pick them up ourselves and help them out with some weed from Illinois on the way.”
Asked about potential food offerings, Cassavettes was a bit more tongue-in cheek.
“We’re working with a few consultants to build the menu, and we haven’t found a chef that we’re 100% ready to trust running that entire portion of the operation. So far, we’re certain that we want to offer wings, weekend crawfish boil, and maybe gyros. We definitely want to have a cafeteria service model but we haven’t found steel lunch trays we’re happy with yet. We’d also like to explore a daytime offering where we pair a sack lunch with a 40 ounce serving of liquor but we haven’t found a way to address the fact that it requires two paper bags.”
“One thing we’re sure of is that we definitely want to have bathroom attendants working for tips. We’re doing group interviews on Thursday afternoons at 2PM for those positions. We’re also speaking with several local DJs about people they know that might want to get back into the Oxygen bar subcontracting business during the weekends.”