I was so excited to visit Big Spring Spirits, located in the old Match Factory in Bellefonte. The Distillery currently makes several rums, whiskeys, gins and bourbon. Their Tasting Room offers an unbelievable drink menu which offers a wide range of classic and seasonal drinks all made with spirits distilled in their LEED Gold certified facility next door. The Tasting Room is a great space, with high ceilings, a long bar and several tables lined up against a wall of windows looking out towards Talleyrand Park. For fun, there is a big selection of board and table games – what a great way to enjoy time with your friends and family, drink something delicious, and play some games. And to my dinner guests relief, TVs at the bar (hey it was the end of the 100th PGA tournament at Bellerive) You can also take tours of the distillery, which I sense we will be doing sometime in the future.
Food is also available in the Tasting Room. The menu developed by chef and owner MJ Custom Craft Kitchens, Mark Johnson, includes soup, sandwiches, and other snacks. They have many specialty nights such as Science Pub night and Throwback Thursdays.
On Sunday’s, they offer a five course Chef Tasting Dinner. This was our objective last Sunday. Each week Chef Johnson creates a menu using what is local and what is in season. Each guest receives a welcome cocktail, and for an additional fee, you can opt to add a cocktail pairing menu to go alongside each of your food courses (which, of course we did!)
A welcome drink is included with the tasting menu. We were welcomed with a efflorescent berry cocktail.
We opted to add on the cocktail pairings for each course. Worried that we would be really really inebriated by the end, we were pleasantly surprised and relieved that drink portions for each course were much smaller than our welcome drink. The drinks were the perfect size to give you the experience of a drink specifically made for each course of food, without making you feel like you were drowning in alcohol.
The Chef’s Tasting Menu consists of five courses that utilize local and fresh ingredients. The Chef changes the menu weekly, depending on what is in season. I cannot wait to return to try a Fall, Winter and Spring menu.
We started with a tomato bruschetta which had a sweet corn vinaigrette. I could of eaten the vinaigrette alone, as a soup. It was that good.
Next up, Roasted Shishito Peppers. It seems that Shishito peppers are having a moment. They seem to be the trendy menu item, food magazine topic and lately I’ve noticed boxes and boxes of them available at the farmers market. Despite all this, I have never bought them – well that is going to change because they were delicious.
The third course, we didn’t manage to get a photo of. Probably because it was so good we couldn’t put down our forks for two seconds to take a photo. The shrimp were served with local zucchini, corn and tomato, and paired with a BS Margarita.
Next, we were served one of my favorite proteins, LAMB!!! I think, unfortunately, a lot of people have experienced poorly prepared lamb in the past. You know the kind, dry chewy, and served with a neon green jelly mint sauce. (Thanks 1980s). Well, when cooked well, especially braising, lamb is really juicy, tender and delicious. The fourth course did not disappoint. The Cracklin’ Rose drink paired with it, along with the Summer Breeze that was served with the peppers were my two most favorite drinks of the night.
And finally, our dessert. Blueberry shortcake, paired with a Shortcake^2 drink. I’m not sure what kind of magical ingredients were in the cakes, they were moist and tender, unlike most dry and flaky shortcakes typically served. The drink was probably our least favorite of the evening. The menu indicated that it was a mix of berry syrup, Talleyrand Cream Bourbon, vodka and amaretto – but really it just tasted like blue amaretto.
we will return….and you should too!
I am so glad that this area has a place like Big Spring Spirits. The food and drinks were delicious, locally inspired and creative. We will definitely return for Throwback Thursday, Science Pub night and more drinks and more food.