Philadelphia’s once-booming distilling industry is rising back to its old prominence. Before Prohibition destroyed the state’s industry, Pennsylvania was home to the country’s densest areas of homespun and commercial whiskey makers. Law reforms in 2011 have ushered back distillers, with dozens opening in the last couple years. Here are the distilling revolutionaries in Philadelphia who are bringing small batch spirits back to the table.
Sweet and earthy Stateside vodka stars at this Kensington distillery that pays tribute to the rich history of Philadelphia. For something even sweeter, try the “Walk of Shame” with vodka, orange liqueur, grapefruit juice, and a champagne float. For a more savory take, enjoy a “Dirty & Gritty” with jalapeño-infused vodka and olive juice. A small menu of hotdogs, roast beef sandwiches, salads, and other small plates offer a variety of pairings for these meticulously-constructed, vodka-based cocktails.
1700 N Hancock Street
Philadelphia Distilling was the first craft distillery in Pennsylvania that opened after Prohibition. Since then, the distillery has relocated to a larger facility complete with a bar, lounge, tasting room, and event space, making it great for a party or just drinks before a show. Visitors can sample the signature Bluecoat American Dry Gin, Bluecoat Barrel-Finished Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe, Penn 1681 Vodka, and a vodka seasoned with traditional Chesapeake Bay seasonings. Take a seat at the long marble bar for a view of the giant copper kettles.
25 East Allen Street
Rowhouse owner Dean Browne works out of a tiny shed at Philadelphia Brew Company, and produces small batch gin, Scandinavian Nordic Akavit, Irish-style moonshine made of barley malts, rum, and barrel-aged spirits. For a taste adventure, sip the Bear Trap herbal liqueur which is made from nineteen organic botanicals. Visitors can tour the small space from between Thursday and Sunday, and enjoy three generous pours for only five dollars.
24400 Frankford Avenue
Millstone Spirits Group, which is comprised of a founder of Philadelphia Distilling and other industry veterans, is now known as New Liberty Distillery. Copper stills are used to make whiskeys and vodka in the historic Kensington building. Tours are given on Saturdays, and guests can enjoy tours of the showroom and distillery that are partially located in horse stables that date back to 1906.
1431 North Cadwallader Street
Since 2012, Naoj & Mot distillery has been producing the Pollyodd line of Italian liqueurs. Its owner, Joan Verratti, was the state’s first licensed female distiller. And despite being closed to the public, Verratti runs a tasting room where she pours locally-sourced, cream-based and water-based spirits. These include a Limoncello, orangecello, chocolate cello, and strawberry-cream cello.
1908 East Passyunk Avenue