WINTER PARK, Fla. — For those businesses not included in phase one, like bars and distilleries, the last few weeks have been especially challenging as they figured out a way to get by.

That includes Winter Park Distilling Company, located along North Orange Avenue, which, like many other distillers across the country, made a natural pivot to making hand sanitizer.

Here are five things to know:

1. In 2011, Paul Twyford and Andrew Asher got into the distilled spirits market by making whiskey, rum, bourbon, and vodka. They branched out with beer in 2016 with their Bear and Peacock Brewing Company. Combined with the adjacent distillery, it's called the Brewstillery in Winter Park. And business was good-- until March coronavirus restrictions meant they had to close their taproom doors and scale back 99 percent of their operations, according to Asher.

2. As restaurants and bars transitioned into carryout-only mode, so did the Brewstillery. They spent $3,000 on a Crowler machine, allowing them to turn their brews into to-gos by capping 32 ounce aluminum cans straight from the tap. They also began crafting hand sanitizer in order to replace a portion of revenue in which they lost. They explained it was a logical transition, as the distillery was already making high proof ethanol, a key ingredient to hand sanitizer.

3. Though they encountered challenges — from ever-changing FDA guidelines to sourcing of ingredients, such as glycerin and hydrogen peroxide — they kept going. In the last seven weeks, they have made about 4,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, selling it to OUC and Lynx for buses. They have also donated sanitizer to local senior living facilities.

4. Now, as phase one of the governor's reopening plan gets underway, Twyford said that his phone "has been blowing up," as restaurants and retail operations prepare to reopen to customers. Businesses like Foxtail Coffee, the Imperial and Bar Louis have all purchased hand sanitizer from the distillery, Twyford said. As they wait out an uncertain future, Winter Park Distilling Company continues to make sanitizer and brew beer — for when customers return.

5. They also hope that the pandemic will spur changes when it comes to restrictions placed upon distillers in the state of Florida.

Last year, Winter Park Distilling Company joined a guild that is working to get the state to relax regulations for craft distilleries trying to make and sell their own products. 

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