The Basics Drinking Out

5 American Distilleries Where You Can Also Dine

What’s cooler than eating supper among the stills?

The bar at Rye Street Tavern at Sagamore Spirit in Baltimore. A blond wood bar, enormous windows and bartenders in bowties
The bar at Rye Street Tavern at Sagamore Spirit in Baltimore. Image:

Rye Street Tavern

Touring a distillery and tasting through your favorite liquors is enough to make anyone hungry. Of course, you could leave the premises and go out to lunch or dinner when you’re done. But at some distilleries, there’s no need, because you can eat a delicious meal right on site. Go for a tasting, but stay for the eats at these five craft spirit producers.

  • Farmhouse at Pacific Coast Spirits (San Diego)

    Farmhouse at Pacific Coast Spirits in San Diego. An outdoor table with two refreshing cocktails

    Pacific Coast Spirits

    Using ingredients sourced as close to the West Coast as possible, California’s first combination distillery and restaurant makes a signature American single malt whiskey, as well as brandies in the style of pisco and Cognac. The Farmhouse serves family-style pozole, fresh-catch ceviche, barrio salad and other SoCal/Mexican-fusion dishes. It also endeavors to be sustainable whenever possible, using spent grains in its crackers and waffles, botanicals in the dressings, and spirits in the bacon and fish cures. “We’re a distillery, but food is not a second thought for us, [and] we have a unique opportunity with the synergy of spirits production and cuisine,” says founder and head distiller Nicholas Hammond. “Our synergy is purposeful, and we work hard to execute this harmony.”

  • The Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company (Bardstown, Kentucky)

    Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company. Tufted gold banquettes anchor the ground floor and a staircase leads to a vantage point looking into the distlerry room with the stills

    Bardstown Bourbon Company

    This new-generation distillery focuses on creative collaborations such as bourbon finished in cabernet sauvignon barrels. The restaurant is described as a “scratch kitchen with a dash of Southern flair,” characterized by dishes such as cast-iron buttermilk fried chicken and grilled salmon with bourbon glaze. Its cocktail menu pours the distillery’s offerings and those from the extensive spirits library stocked with more than 400 vintage American whiskeys curated by renowned whiskey author Fred Minnick. A Distilled Dinner Series held quarterly for only 20 guests lets chef John Castro flex his culinary chops through a three-course menu of bourbon-infused dishes and Kentucky favorites. “Dining tables are steps from our stills, and private events are surrounded by barrels,” says vice president of hospitality Dan Calloway. “This is the modern bourbon experience.”

  • Lula Restaurant–Distillery (New Orleans)

    Barrel Room at Lula in New Orleans

    Lula Restaurant–Distillery

    This NOLA distillery is the result of a collaboration between friends and business partners Jess Bourgeois and Bera Caffery, who met in 2009 during a two-week trip across New Zealand. Their three small-batch products—rum, vodka and gin—are an ode to Louisiana’s sugar cane production, which dates back 200 years. Each is made in a copper still manufactured in Eislingen, Germany. As for the food? This is the Big Easy, so look for shrimp boils in three iterations (ginger lemongrass, garlic butter and hot garlic), grilled Gulf fish with green onion popcorn rice, and pork osso buco grillades. Free-flowing tap cocktails, like the Cucumber Vodka Collins or the Bee’s Knees, go down just as easily. The Barrel Room is a perfect nook for large events or intimate gatherings.

  • Rye Street Tavern at Sagamore Spirit (Baltimore)

    Rye Street Tavern at Sagamore Spirit in Baltimore. Modern fixtures and a brown, taupe and silver palette

    Noah Fecks 

    At this distillery, which pays homage to the mid-Atlantic state’s storied history of rye whiskey and the corner taverns of Baltimore’s industrial era, is an American restaurant overseen by chef Andrew Carmellini and chef de cuisine Brian Plante. Its cuisine speaks to the Chesapeake Bay’s influence on the region; signature dishes include wood-broiled Choptank oysters, ember-roasted beets, wood-grilled red drum, braised beef cheek and crispy kabocha squash. The menu also features the chef’s famous fried chicken and a rotating “crab of the day” special, with offerings such as blue crab salad and crispy crab fritters. Beverage director Josh Nadel’s cocktail list shows off Maryland rye whiskey in drinks like the Brown Derby, Flor de Sagamore and Into the Woods, which stirs Sagamore Spirit rye with Don Ciccio & Figli nocino, black walnut bitters and Vya sweet vermouth.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • Western Reserve Distillers (Lakewood, Ohio)

    Distill Table at Western Reserve Distillers in Ohio

    Western Reserve Distillers 

    Adjacent to the husband-and-wife-run distillery outside Cleveland (the duo have a penchant for whiskey made with spelt and other relic grains) is this restaurant and cocktail bar that complements the farm-to-glass offerings made next door. Highlights include pork belly croquettes with smoked cherry barbecue sauce and Twin Peaks Farm meatloaf; alongside your meal, try a flight, classic cocktail or original creation like the I Menta Turn on Euclid, made using the distillery’s own bourbon, Branca Menta and lemon. “We’re committed to local sourcing; we understand the value of seeing our grains grow,” says cofounder Ann Thomas. All of the distillery’s spirits are produced from heirloom seed stock grown organically in the region’s rich soil, and the mash byproduct is added to the feed program for the farmers’ livestock and sold to their farm-to-table restaurant. “Here you can enjoy expertly crafted dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients,” says Thomas.