St. Augustine Distillery and Ice Plant Bar

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Last weekend I took an impromptu (the best kind) trip to St. Augustine.  I got a great deal on a hotel and really needed to get away.  Apparently being in the same place for a week and a half is a bit much for me.

The hotel I was staying at, the Casa Monica, gave out a flyer at reception that had suggestions of things to do in town.  I’ve done just about every trolley ride and ghost tour in St. Augustine, so I really just planned on wandering around until something struck my fancy, but then I saw a distillery tour advertised on the flyer, with free tastings.  You had me at free booze.

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery in St. Augustine, FL

The St. Augustine Distillery was built inside the oldest ice plant in Florida, the historic FP&L ice plant built in 1907.  I really wish I was alive in a time when ice plants were a thing.  Selling ice to Floridians has to be a gold mine.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

Upon arrival at the distillery, we were asked to punch in for work.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

The tour was to start in about 10 minutes, in the meantime we were directed to a waiting area museum.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

The museum covered the buildings history as an ice plant as well as the farming and distilling processes that go into making the liquors they sell at the plant today.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

Once inside we watched a short film interviewing the local farmers and owners about the mission of the distillery.  Our tour guide Kelsey then took us further into the distillery and explained more about the distilling process.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

Eventually the distillery will have rum, gin, and bourbon available, but for now it’s new enough that only the vodka was ready.  We can expect gin in the summer and bourbon in about 4 years.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

We then moved into the tasting room, the best part!

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

Here we sampled the vodka.  The St. Augustine Distillery makes sugar cane vodka, which outside of this distillery, is only made in South America.  We tried a taste of the vodka and then Kelsey mixed us a drink called a Florida Mule (which is pretty much the same as a Moscow Mule except the vodka is made in Florida).

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

Seeing that building used to be an ice plant and we had just learned how cocktails had gone downhill since people stopped using ice blocks, they had to make the cocktail the old fashioned way.  Kelsey put a block of ice into a sack and then beat it with this mallet until it had the consistency of snow.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

Apparently, when people used to use ice blocks they were frozen at a much colder temperature than modern ice so that they would last longer and could be transported.  This meant that the ice stayed frozen in drinks longer and didn’t water them down.

After we were finished with the tasting, co-founder and CEO of the distillery, Philip McDaniel stopped by and told us a little about the distillery and the legal battles to get Florida to allow the sale of the liquor directly to the public at the distillery.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

He even stayed around and signed bottles for people in the gift shop.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

Turns out for all of the legal battles, they came out ahead and are allowed to sell to the public, but only 2 bottles per person per year.  I lived in Tennessee, so I’m no stranger to wacky liquor laws.  They take this pretty seriously and scan your drivers license, but I left with the maximum legally allowable.

St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, FL

While talking with Phil he recommended checking out the Ice Plant Bar, which opened at 5pm for cocktails and food.  He also wisely told us to sit at the bar for the best view of the action.

Ice Plant Bar

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, FL

Phil did not steer us wrong.  We arrived at about 10 minutes before opening and there was already a line outside the door.  When the doors finally opened we got the last two seats at the bar, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

The bar specialized in old fashioned cocktails made with large ice blocks,

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

and the menu was extensive.

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

It was understandably a difficult decision, especially with my menu issues, but the first drinks we tried were the St. George Sour and the La Dona.

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

The drinks were delicious, and we were glad to have a front row seat to watch them being made.  The bartenders were pretty impressive.

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

We also ordered food while we were there, which was just as difficult as picking out drinks.

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

We tried the Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped dates, served on a buttermilk bleu cheese puree),

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

and the Fennel-Cured Salmon and Cucumber Terrine with Arugula Fennel Salad.

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

Both were fantastic!  I had a great burger, but I was a little drunk and hungry so I ate it before pictures happened.  After we ate it was time for a second round of drinks.  I had the El Mariachi, at the recommendation of our bartender Zach.

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

It was a chocolate orange flavored cocktail with a little smokiness from the Mezcal, (which I’m pretty much an expert at after my tequila classes at Epcot, and on the Disney Cruise Line.)

We also ordered the Veuxxe Carre, based entirely on the sphere of ice it was served with.

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

Ice Plant Bar, St. Augustine, F

The St. Augustine Distillery and the Ice Plant Bar are an amazing addition to St. Augustine and I will for sure be back, probably in the summer when the gin is ready and to try the rest of the menu!

16 thoughts on “St. Augustine Distillery and Ice Plant Bar

  1. Yvonne

    When I visited the distillery, their store was out of the wooden mallet. We were told there is an online site to purchase one. I misplaced that information. Do you know it?

  2. Ash

    I always love seeing posts about restraints bars etc, but this one seems a bit more interesting than most. Would love a cocktail in a glass made of ice!

  3. Looks like a fun experience seeing and sampling all the liquor from the distillery. Great pictures as well. The Ice Plant Bar looks amazing. Would have loved to seen pics of the burger…though understand how that goes 🙂 The Veuxxe Carre served on ice is something I’d really love to try. Fun post to read.

  4. I love visiting places like this. Mainly because I studied some of these in uni, and well mostly for the free booze. hehe. It’s always interesting to see how things (in this case alcoholic drinks) came to be. I sure would like to try that sugarcane vodka. And that sphere of ice is amazing, how did they do it?

  5. I love any kind of alcohol influenced tour! Wineries, Distilleries, Breweries – i’m there! Looks like a really great tour and the food options at the end offer a good selection and a reasonable prices. What a great find!

  6. Impromptu trips are the best! Loved hearing about your visit to the distillery.. and I’d love to personally visit the Ice Plant. This looked like such a cool experience!

  7. This is my kind of place! I love the history, the character and the product!

  8. Haha, wacky liquor laws 🙂 You are on to something there. As a German expat living in the US, I can attest and say they are completely wacky in many places. Dry counties? Can’t by beer or wine on Sundays? Being corralled into a fenced-in area to drink a beer at a St Paddy’s Day Parade? Only in America, hehe 🙂 But I love the style of the Ice Plant Bar. Looks very cool and hip.

  9. Oh wow, so what did you bring back for me? 😉 My Favorite type of place with my Favorite type of alcoholic beverages. Awesome post!

  10. This was so interesting! I never thought much about ice and the different ways it could be had, but now that I know I would love to see some chipped off a block for me. I always love Devils on Horseback as well, had it for the first time in New York and loved it every since!

  11. I’ve heard good things about both those places and in fact a friend was telling me recently that I needed to check out the distillery. Glad to see your review and photos and looking forward to getting over there soon myself!

  12. great post! I love old buildings like this that get re-purposed. Especially when they keep part of the history intact. It looks like an amazing place!

  13. I like this kind of place for a tour. Not just because of the alcohol! The history is great and the wacky laws. I love that people thought it lower the tone to have cubes instead of ice from a block. Great day trip
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  14. […] old ice plant and offers free tours throughout the day.   You can learn more about the distillery here.  The tour was very informative and interesting and came with free […]

  15. This place offers some awesome inspiration. My buddy owns a mineral spring and wants to use some of the historic charm featured at the Ice Plant.

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