Where grassroots entrepreneurship and history meet at St. Augustine Distillery
On the outskirts of St. Augustine on Riberia Street adjacent to the Lincolnville Historic District, the city’s major black residential subdivision dating back to 1866, sits what was once the former Florida Power & Light electric plant that had also doubled as the local ice plant. Nowadays, the 15,000-square foot space is home to the St. Augustine Distillery and bar/restaurant, The Ice Plant.
The distillery’s roots date back to 2010, when Philip McDaniel, Mike Diaz, former St. Augustine Amphitheater general manager Ryan Detra and The Floridian cofounder Patricia McLemore banded together with 28 other local investors to create a local craft distillery.
After nearly three years and a roughly $3 million investment that went towards major renovations, the St. Augustine Distillery was born. Reflecting the best of what the surrounding area has to offer, the founders insisted on using local ingredients to produce whiskey, rum, vodka and gin. With the goal being that of distilling super premium, small batch spirits, some of the industry’s best experts were brought in, (David Pickerell, former VP of operations for Maker’s Mark consulted in the engineering, scaling and design of the facility as well as equipment selection.) Further enhancing the integrity of the distillery’s products was the decision to partner with farmers growing locally raised sugar cane, wheat, corn and citrus. The result is a line of spirits that includes St. Augustine Cane Vodka and St. Augustine Distillery New World Gin. Visitors wanting to learn more about the process can avail themselves to one of a number of free daily tours, where you’ll clock in out front at the vintage time clock.
From there, after the screening of a short informational video about the distillery’s origins, a short tour ensues where you’ll not only get walked through the distilling process, but wind up at a tasting room where visitors can try samples of original cocktails like the Florida Mule (a take on the Moscow Mule) and the New World Gin & Tonic. There is also an on-site store where you can purchase spirits (be sure to check laws regarding the shipment of spirits before you buy anything unless you’re intending to check them in your luggage if you flew to Florida), apparel and assorted bar/cocktail products.
And if you’re hungry, pop right next door to the Ice Plant, a restaurant that carved out a piece of the original plant space that serves upscale food (green curried Joyce Farm chicken salad; Crispy Ga shrimp cake sandwich) along with hand-crafted cocktails using fresh-squeezed juices (the house ginger ale made with fresh ginger is alone worth a visit), house-made syrups and artisanal spirits (supplied by its next-door neighboring distillery).
St. Augustine Distillery
112 Riberia St., St. Augustine, FL 32084
904-825-4963 • www.taugustinedistillery.com
110 Riberia St., St. Augustine, FL 32084
904-829-6553 • www.iceplantbar.com
Learn more about St. Augustine’s 450-year history.