Meet Zach and Sarah, proprietors of The Dram Shop at 229 East Front Street. They decided to start the business after Zach had worked at Big Sky Brewery for 11 years and wanted to start something that was an extension of the brewing industry, FUN, and a new adventure for a beer lover. Located in the old Mercantile Warehouse building since 2015, they wanted to start a tap room in a high traffic area that fit the brand of their business.
They live in the Rattlesnake, known for its good elementary school, and access to recreation. Located a short distance from the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness, an endless amount of activities can be enjoyed. They run, hike and mountain bike straight out of the front door, not to mention cross country ski during the winter months. It is also close enough to downtown that they can walk to work with the dog if desired.
The Blackfoot IPA is the most popular item they serve on tap, actually IPAs in general are well received; though they also serve Sours, Ciders, Kombucha, Shrubs, Soda and Wine on tap. Did someone say Wine?
The Dram hosts a series of different events: from takeovers which feature a specific brewer, to tastings and pairings that feature a certain style from various producers and local restaurants. This offers an educational opportunity, kind of like Beer School, but without grades. I give it an A+. Also on display is photography in a gallery style atmosphere. Pete Ferranti Landscapes will be hanging out on the walls from First Friday in February. There is no bar style happy hour, but they do run specials on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.
Meet Missoula by Mike Gillette
I needed some shade, it was the hottest day of the year and the heat was radiating from the road. This is Railroad Street, the closest you get to quaint, cozy cobblestone streets in Montana. Soon to be known as Distillery Row, a red brick road about as smooth as a do-it-yourself tile job. Hard to say a 5 block by 5 block downtown has a seedy side, but the atmosphere has changed for the better since just a few years ago.
I needed a drink. Something that didn’t make my breath stink of microbrew when I came home to the sheriff and her three little deputies. I ducked into a gin joint, the Montana Distillery, where Woody dead ends at the yard.
A cucumber vodka with a splash of soda and a drop of lime in a tall glass of ice is just what the doctor ordered. The doctor is my alter ego, who sits there listening to the story of Montana’s oldest distillery. Originally the Flathead Distillery, located in Eureka, and one of only 50 in America. Once they heard it was for sale, the current owners took to the Yaak in a 1984 Winnebago known as the brown turd and did a Max Cady until it was theirs. Mark started home brewing beer while working as a HazMat air compliance officer at a refinery, realizing that the process is the same. Now they can make a product and get positive feedback, despite having to prove themselves everyday and having to fix the still at 2 o’clock in the morning.
You might be sitting next to who knows who, as you judge the panhandler who has been dodging bulls all day; pawning his hard earned coin collection for a Moscow Mule. Little do you know he could be a Grammy Award winning country artist. Then you realize that your differences are positive, and that as much as you impact someone’s life, they in turn impact yours.
The owners take great pride in working this trade for the love of it, and for being a living part of the downtown heritage. If you would like to learn more about their eau de vie, take your south end and head north on Sunday for a Bloody Mary/ Caesar bar. Or, hang out with Mark and Sharie on a Wednesday for Ladies Night (fellas), they would love to tell you the tale of how it all started and the challenges they face now; from bottle caps to serving caps. Check out their website http://www.themtdistillery.com to see more about drink specials, events, and lineup of award winning spirits.