We were tipped off by Elaine Pivinski, the owner of Franklin Hill Vineyards earlier this month to her son Adam’s relatively new distillery, the Social Still, in Bethlehem, PA. For us, the quickest route there made for the most mundane so we ventured slightly out of our way to travel along route 611 which runs all the way from Coolbaugh Twp. to Philadelphia.
Route 611 spans through five counties and includes views of the Delaware River and its canal, an abandoned railroad line, and historic towns such as the Delaware Water Gap. Space doesn’t permit mention of all that it provides, but it’s a well enjoyed trek by motorcyclists for some of its serene passages along its way.
We dropped off 611 in Easton and made our way to 412 in Bethlehem to catch a view of the Sands Casino and the Steel Stacks, now an art venue built among the now defunct site of the Bethlehem Steel Company. Concerts and festivals a plenty in the area and today was no exception which was to our advantage. Our destination did not have its normal crowd which allowed us some extra time with Adam during this visit.
Brimming with enthusiasm, owner Adam Flatt carefully tended to our questions as we sat at the bar in this historic building with a flight of vodka, gin, a rye, and a coffee infused bourbon. Standing firmly on 3rd street, the former Gosztonyi Savings and Trust building of the 1920’s, owned by the late Rozi Gosztonyi, is now the home of some of the best spirits we’ve tasted. This stately structure was meticulously renovated to strict codes in order for it to qualify on the National Register of Historic Places. Adam’s explanation of the effort that it took was enough to exhaust us just thinking about it. We ordered something light from a menu more thorough than we expected as we sipped and discussed distilling techniques with Adam.
When we were ready to go, Adam intercepted us on the way out and with little effort had us eagerly accepting his invitation to a private tour of the place. We ventured down into the old basement to see where the fermentation takes place. We saw how they labeled the bottles and came across a table of half empties where the staff would experiment with their ideas for future products. Adam explained the growing need for space for his aging whiskeys and he was utilizing every place he had. There was one room of barrels he keeps sealed off and when we walked inside we were nearly knocked off our feet by the fumes! It was a pleasant smell but of such strength it would affect your eyes as well. Probably the most fascinating room was the bank vault where he set up a table and chairs for visitors as you sat among aging whiskeys. The door to the vault was as sturdy looking as the rest of the building.
Adam said his vodka is distilled eight times and mixed with the good water from the Bethlehem water supply, it is one of the best vodkas we’ve ever tasted. His willingness to go the extra distance with his work also showed in his gin and the two whiskeys we tried as well as with the medals they’ve won. The most unique to us was the Barista Bourbon. A bourbon with Nicaraguan and Ethiopian coffee beans cold soaked before it is bottled. We brought a bottle of Barista and the Vodka home and plan on being back there soon.
We took a lazy ride back up north along 611 following the Delaware with a sense of satisfaction from this good trip.