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Distilleries are Worth a Shot (or cocktail)
As the cradle of the first American whiskey, Pennsylvania has a heritage that is both deep and wide when it comes to crafting exceptional spirits. Take a stiff drink of aromatic history combined with assertive forward-looking flavors at some of the state’s best distilleries. Stoll & Wolfe Distillery located in quaint downtown Lititz revives a distillery (and its traditions) dating back to 1753. They craft several awarded and sought-after whiskeys, including a celebrated Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey, the first Rosen Rye Whiskey released in almost half a century, and a Bourbon & Rye Blend whiskey that was a 2019 Ultimate Spirits Challenge finalist. If you visit, be sure to try some of their more creative cocktails, including the Spoonful or the Lonesome Dove.
In Allentown, County Seat Spirits is an authentic grain to glass distillery, overseeing the entire process from milling to distilling and aging. As Lehigh Valley’s first licensed distillery since the Prohibition, County Seat derives its name both from its location and its ambition to provide a central, community gathering place for those in the county. County Seat Spirits produces their own trademark whiskeys, gin, rum, and vodka.
In New Cumberland, Dead Lightning Distillery was christened in homage to the memory of a friend and his love of the Grateful Dead and moonshine—or “white lightning.” In the comfortable, somehow familiar atmosphere of this beloved distillery, Dead Lightning offers a wide selection of cocktails incorporating an array of infused vodkas, white and spiced rums, gin, and cinnamon whiskey.
Hidden Still Spirits in Lebanon has a reputation that makes it anything but “hidden” to cocktail connoisseurs of all stripes: this distillery produces twelve signature spirits, more than half of which have received national and international awards. Located in a century-old building, now refurbished with modern elements, any visit must involve sampling the distillery’s unique Mad Crayfish Vodka and its timeless Hidden Still Bourbon.
At Kingfly Spirits Distillery in Pittsburgh, tradition and transformation are the two elements involved in the production of each of their signature spirits. Kingfly features a vast selection of essential, internationally inspired, and premium spirits, all of which are mixed with house-made tonics, seltzers, syrups, and fruit juices to ensure unforgettable cocktails that are both classic and cutting-edge. For a taste of something more, Kingfly is also known to host regular live music events that pair perfectly with their premier drinks.
Located in a one-hundred-year-old furniture factory and modeled after a German Beer hall, the Mason Dixon Distillery in Gettysburg provides the quality food and spirits to match the richness of conversation it generates. Sample any number of their cocktails incorporating their handcrafted vodka, rum, aged rum, or corn whiskey, and be sure to try any number of their delectable appetizers, salads, or sandwiches—many of which feature the freshest ingredients farmed in Mason Dixon’s own backyard garden.
If you’re looking for a drink infused with some authentic local history, Lancaster’s Thistle Finch Distillery —described as “a hidden world where nostalgia and libations rule”—is located in a former tobacco warehouse, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its colonial era décor and classic whiskey cocktails summon the richness of history along with rich notes on the palate. While Thistle Finch is known for its award-winning Small Batch White Rye Whiskey, it also produces outstanding Market Alley Gin and Penn Square Vodka.
At Tattered Flag Brewing & Still Works in Middletown, an innovative brand started by a U.S. Navy veteran, patrons can experience acclaimed hand-crafted brews and spirits and excellence born out of the motto “it’s military level precision that makes all the difference.” The Tattered Flag Distillery has been the recipient of several awards, including being named “Simply the Best Distillery in Central PA” by Harrisburg magazine, as well as several national awards for their house gin and vodka. While specializing in New England style IPA and featuring a Sours Program, their brew list is sure to provide something suitable to all tastes.
Red Brick Craft Distillery in Philadelphia is said to embody the “spirit of Philadelphia” in its invocation of the city’s craftsmanship and inventiveness. From their eponymous Red Brick Whiskey, a barrel aged single malt American whiskey with strong chocolate notes, to their gold medal winning From the Woods Black Birch beer fermented with wildflower honey, brown sugar, and black birch, at Red Brick you can be certain that you are experiencing the best the city has to offer—in spirits and in the true spirit of historic Philadelphia.
At Barrel 21 Distillery & Dining in State College, be prepared to celebrate all things local, as area farmers source many of the raw materials highlighted in the extensive menu and in the distillery’s house-made craft spirits. Be sure to come hungry as well as thirsty in order to experience the locally sourced braised beef ravioli or crab gnocchi as well as the phenomenal Bloody Mary or Devil in the Woods cocktail. Or, if breakfast happens to be your favorite meal of the day, come by for Sunday brunch to see why this is such a popular destination for both State College natives and out-of-towners.