Breckenridge Distillery, An Elevated Experience
By Lauren Glendenning & Kimberly Nicoletti
This family-friendly restaurant and bar is also a working distillery offering free tours and retail shop.
BEHIND THE PASSION to create a craft distillery, the consulting from internationally acclaimed chef David Burke, and the vision to create an experience that transcends the simple act of dining or drinking; the Breckenridge Distillery has established itself as a place in Breckenridge where memories are made.
Executive Chef Richard Calton and his team have elevated the Breckenridge Distillery to a restaurant open year-round, seven-days-a-week, serving seasonal, locally-sourced dishes for lunch and dinner. And that’s just in addition to the Distillery tours and the retail shop.
TOURS AND TASTINGS
Free tours of the production facility happen daily and tastings of the Distillery’s bourbon, vodka and gin are complimentary.
“You get to see the inner workings of our production facility and see and smell hundreds of aging barrels,” said Jessie Unruh, Marketing Manager at the Breckenridge Distillery.
“People walk in our front door and see you can do free tours and tastings; then you see the restaurant, the distillery, the patio and the games — that’s what builds the character of this place is that you walk into the unexpected.”
The Distillery also offers complimentary tastings at their Main Street Tasting Room, a great place to warm up [with a whiskey tasting] if you are wandering through downtown.
A SEASONAL MENU THAT’S SHAREABLE AND FUN
Burke’s modern American cuisine delivers dishes that are outside the box. Calton, who grew up with Burke in New Jersey and has worked with him for years, is the man executing Burke’s vision every day at the Distillery restaurant.
As always, the menu revolves around local produce, comfort foods with a twist and shareable dishes meant to encourage interaction and conviviality.
“Things that may sound simple on the menu arrive with a lot of unexpected flare,” Calton said. “You see people taking pictures of the food a lot.”
From small plates to large family-style offerings, there’s a certain showmanship about each dish, said General Manager Chris Metts. The signature Maple Pepper Bacon, for example, features extra thick slices of candied bacon served hanging from a custom clothesline. The Prime Porterhouse is dry-aged 40 days in a Himalayan salt room, a patented process by Burke.
FOOD THAT’S ALSO APPROACHABLE
The Distillery’s daily Kansas City-style BBQ lunch features baby back ribs, pulled pork, the Diablo sandwich (with burnt ends and bulgogi sauce) and much more, served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We are passion-driven — we care innately about putting out the best we can,” said General Manager Chris Metts. “To be in such a unique setting as Breckenridge, where everyone cares about what they’re putting in front of guests, I think is something really special. From glass to plate, everything we do is unique and personal — as approachable as we can make it.”
TURNING COCKTAILS INTO AN EXPERIENCE
When your restaurant is an extension of one of Colorado’s most famous distilleries, the craft cocktail list must be the cream of the crop. All of Breckenridge Distillery’s spirits are bottled in-house — an impressive feat considering its products are available in 49 states. (Visit the Distillery or the Main Street Tasting Room in Breckenridge to try them.)
Liquid Chef Billie Keithley’s cocktail list features seasonal products. Keithley can’t stop herself from concocting so her menu presents new drinks every season. With spirits like these — Breckenridge Bourbon is one of the most awarded craft bourbons in the industry, and the Distillery was recently named 2019 CO Distillery of the Year by the New York International Spirits Competition — Keithley has to constantly ensure her bar program meets the same high quality standards.
The Distillery is creating everything from bitters to schnapps to syrups to juices for every specialty cocktail. She’s even making an in-house Fernet, an Italian herbal liqueur. “If it’s edible, I can make a cocktail out of it,” she said.
Cocktails range from spirit-forward to tart to sweet, so there are great options for all palates. The Distillery’s signature drink is the Obi Wan Old Fashioned, made with Breckenridge Port Cask Whiskey, raw sugar simple, barrel-aged whiskey bitters and a brandied cherry.
The Distillery also smokes a lot of cocktails tableside in small barrels to provide a campfire effect. “These are showstopper drinks,” Unruh said. Here’s a toast to winter in the Rockies.
There is no need to drink and drive when you can drink and ride, courtesy of the Distillery Shuttle. The Breckenridge Distillery offers a free shuttle to and from the Distillery within Breckenridge town limits. Call 970-547-9759.