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York distillery to open tasting room with menu

Heading to a brewery is fun. Going to a winery is fancy. Come February, you'll have a new option.

Old Republic Distillery is opening a tasting room, serving signature spirits and cocktails and light fare in North York. The tasting room will be under the same roof as its distilling operations, in the space previously occupied by LUX Night Lounge & Cigar Bar.

The new location will offer an experience, not just vodka or moonshine.

"We were looking for someplace more centrally located," said co-owner Denise Mathias, about the move. Mathias, who owns the business with her brother, Bill Mathias, said they also wanted a place where people could come to enjoy a bite with a drink or two, buy a bottle and see the stills. She confirmed that operations at the distillery's Seven Valleys location have stopped, and the business' current retail space along Route 74 near the Target in West Manchester Township will be closing once the new location opens.

She said the hope was to have the new location open before New Year's, "but it just has not worked out that way," she said. "We still have licenses pending the switch over from one location to another, and then the electrical, we're still working on that."

They're now shooting for a soft opening in the beginning of February, Mathias said.

They will lease the new building at  1327 N. Duke St., which is close to Route 30, I-83 and North George Street, Mathias said. She hopes that it will be easier for longtime customers to get to and that it will bring in new customers, too.

"When we first started, obviously, we were on a shoe-string budget," she said. "The building in Seven Valleys kind of fit what we could afford at the time."

She said they loved being at that location, and loved being part of the community there. But the building wasn't as versatile as they wanted. The new location will allow them room for seating so guests can order light fare, including sandwiches, salads, soups and appetizers, and room for the distilling operation to function.

"We're going to keep (the food) light because we're definitely not going to be a bar," Mathias said. "We are a distillery, we want to keep the focus on that."

The business will continue to source as much as it can, both ingredients for its spirits as well as resources for the business itself, from York County, Mathias said.

"We're York County natives," Mathias said. "We'd like to see York County grow, the money in this area come back to this area and help this area instead of everything being farmed out."

In addition to existing York County businesses they've partnered with, Mathias said they are in talks with The Roosevelt Tavern to provide meats for the sandwiches they will serve.

Mathias said Old Republic Distillery's spirits have garnered attention from customers throughout the county and from Harrisburg, Baltimore and beyond. Some of the limited-batch spirits have sold very quickly.

"It's nice to know that people, they like local," she said. "They want local and there's a big push now-- there's so much stuff around now about farm to table … locally produced, and we fall right into that."

A batch of Old Republic Rum, a light rum they made right before shutting down the Seven Valleys distillery sold fast. That will likely be the first thing they craft at the new location, Mathias said.

Signature cocktails 

Old Republic Distillery plans to open in February at 1327 N. Duke St.

Co-owner Denise Mathias said she and her brother, Bill Mathias, who own the business, want Old Republic Distillery to be people's first stop when they go out with friends. They don't have a schedule set in stone just yet, but are planning to be open several days a week, including Friday and Saturday, through the early evenings.

Mathias said they have plans for more signature cocktails, but three of their existing favorites are:

Lovenade, made with one part Old Republic Distillery Love Potion and three parts lemonade;

Apple Crisp made with one part Old Republic Distillery Apple Pie Moonshine and three parts lemonade;

and Ziggy, made with one part Old Republic Distillery Blackberry Vodka, three parts cranberry juice and a splash of lime.

Learn more

Denise Mathias said news and updates about Old Republic Distillery are posted to the business' Facebook page and to its website.