After toiling away in a Northeast Philadelphia industrial park for a little over 11 years, Philadelphia Distilling (makers of Bluecoat Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe, The Bay Seasoned Vodka and so much more) recently moved their distilling operation to a brand new, mixed-use facility in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. While the official grand opening of their new distillery took place on February 19th and 20th, Limpd and I were invited to attend a special grand opening preview that was held on Thursday, February 16th for “Esteemed Members of the Media” such as ourselves.
On the night of the event, Limpd was kind enough to pick me up at my office, and we arrived promptly at 5:30 (his car has really cozy seats by the way. And they’re heated too!). Upon arrival, we were greeted with a light and refreshing cocktail called the “1776” (Bluecoat Gin, fresh pressed lemon, and Pinnacle Ridge Sparkling Cuvee). While enjoying our libation, we took a look around the newly renovated space which was once home to Ajax Metal Company. In addition to being the home of their new distillery, this space also houses the following:
- Craft Cocktail Bar & Lounge
- Tasting Room & Private Event Space
- Retail Store
- Outdoor Patio
When I said that this was a mixed-use facility, I wasn’t kidding!
Once we made our way to the bar, we immediately noticed all of the copper-plated bartending tools that were lined up and ready for action at the multiple mixing stations. It was quite an impressive site, but what made it extra special were the bartenders that were at the ready to make these instruments sing via several expertly crafted cocktail concoctions. These folks know their way around a bar and dazzled us with their witty banter and superb bartending skills…
After about an hour or so, the shades behind the huge windows that serve as the backdrop for the bar slowly started rising to reveal the actual distillery. Huge copper pot stills, hundreds of feet of pipes, catwalks, a wall of barrels, and several wooden mash tuns were easily identified from our perch at the bar.
As I admired all of the beautiful and highly functional copper-plated bartending tools that adorned the bar top and the massive copper pot stills, all I kept thinking about was the following scene from Moonstruck…
Now I don’t know if Philadelphia Distilling will save any money because of the extensive use of copper in their new 13,000 square foot facility, but I do know this, sitting at the bar and sipping on a cocktail that was made using copper-plated jiggers and shaking tins while peering through the windows behind the bar to see distillers Aaron Selya and Ryan Scheswohl working the magnificent 2,500 liter Forsyths copper pot stills to create the spirits that went into the very drink that you’re holding in your hand is an experience that is well worth the price of admission. So while all of that beautiful copper may not save them any actual money, as long as the folks at Philadelphia Distilling keep putting it to good use by making high quality spirits and deliciously crafty cocktails, we’re confident that they’ll have continued success for many years to come.