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How Crummy Neighbors Led to Canton’s Hottest New Bourbon Bar

Whitney Harris and Patrick Huth (remember the 2 H’s) had rude neighbors. Whitney and Patrick are friendly and demonstrative. The neighbors, not so much. Harris and Huth tried everything. They waved, yelled hello, told jokes, jumped up and down. Nothing returned over the fence.

One day they were surprised to learn their uncommunicative neighbors owned a local wine bar. It didn’t seem the type enterprise two unfriendly people would be part of. As a last resort, Whitney and Patrick visited the wine bar with some friends. They waved at the neighbors sitting at a back table. Nothing. They told the server they were neighbors of the owners and asked her to say “hello” for them. Still nothing. After sharing a bottle of wine, they began to wonder how much more successful the place would be if the owners were actually friendly. At the time, it was nothing more than a funny idea. But still …

Whitney Harris is an interior designer who does work for some of the largest corporations in northeast Ohio. Her husband, Patrick Huth, is a chemical engineering consultant. They knew and enjoyed fine wines and spirits, but never thought about owning their own establishment until that funny incident at their neighbors wine bar. Just in case, they started putting some ideas down on paper.

Patrick is the cautious engineer. Whitney is a creative dynamo. Together they started to analyze the possibilities, and started looking at properties, just in case. At the same time, both realized a steady business could even out the ups and downs of their independent consulting businesses. The joke that started with uptight neighbors was becoming a serious idea.

In 2012, while attending Ice Festival in Medina, they fell in love with a building along the historic Town Square. After a Whitney-designed interior renovation, the first H2 (Harris and Huth, get it?) Wine and Craft Beer Bar opened on Thanksgiving weekend, 2013. It turned out that service with a smile and an interesting collection of wines and craft beers really were the keys to success. People came and H2 was on its way.

Soon the couple were approached about another space in downtown Wooster where other restaurants and boutique hotels were opening. It became the second H2 location just as the couple decided to phase out craft beers and replace them with bourbons and whiskeys.

Then a relative of Whitney’s told them about a unique, former restaurant available in downtown Canton. The stone-walled downstairs space allowed H2 to add a full restaurant menu to their wine, bourbon and whiskey offering, a big step forward. Opening in February, 2018 the new Canton H2 has the cosmopolitan flair that has become an H2 trademark. Already the Canton H2 is finding a regular audience. On any given night, from Wednesday through Saturday, you can find the dining room and bar populated with a wide range of Canton characters, many seen downtown frequently, others looking for something new.

Every H2 is unique to their city, but all share a certain sophisticated air in keeping with the outstanding vintages and distilled spirits that line their walls. It is a real opportunity to explore new tastes and find favorites all while enjoying great food in a casual atmosphere.

According to Whitney Harris, “H2 is an extension of ourselves. We’re friendly, but value a space to have intimate conversations with friends. We like good food and drink, but also place a high value on beautiful spaces.” Looking around, it’s easy to see that Whitney Harris and Patrick Huth are just two good neighbors looking to make new friends. Stop at H2 sometime soon and say hello.

For directions to your nearest H2 Huth & Harris Wine Merchants location, visit: h2winemerchants.com

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The “Kentucky Chew”

Your tongue has several “tasting zones.” Taste your bourbon with a chewing motion to coat your tongue. Notice the difference in flavors from the front to back of your tongue before you swallow.

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The Smell Test

Pour your bourbon into a snifter or bulbous glass so the aromas will be trapped. Inhale and identify the aromas that waft up. Looking up the aromas on the Bourbon Flavor Wheel will tell you a lot about how a bourbon’s birthright.

Extra Points: Adding a few drops of distilled water will open up the aromas and taste of the bourbon. Use distilled water because iron ruins the taste.

The Big Finish

 When you swallow bourbon, the fun is just beginning. Does the taste linger (long finish) or quickly disappear (short finish)? Do other tastes become apparent? 

The “Kentucky Hug”

Sometimes a great bourbon will leave a warm sensation in your chest after swallowing. The folks at Jim Beam call it the “Kentucky Hug,” and hugs are always good.