Distillery Tavern: Live Music, Bombers And All Kinds Of Beer
The Distillery is on the move. By the end of this summer it should be in downtown Bradenton.
The Distillery Tavern isn’t going far. In fact, it’s returning to its birthplace.
The Distillery, 108 44th Ave. E., a popular live music venue and the post-bout party home of the Bradentucky Bombers roller derby women, will relocate to the heart of downtown Bradenton later this summer.
It may or may not continue with regular live music, but it likely will maintain its relationship with the Bombers. It’s certainly keeping its tremendous beer selection, its owner said.
The Distillery opened in December 2003. Owner Paul Kotlarczyk had tended bar at The Lost Kangaroo on historic Old Main Street for four years before acquiring the cavernous, stand-alone building just east of DeSoto Square mall. He left the Kangaroo earlier that year, took a few bartenders with him, and a few patrons, too, and The Distillery was born.
The marriage was a match made in bar scene heaven: Kotlarczyk was a popular bartender at the Kangaroo, which assured the upstart Distillery of a steady following during those initial months, but he also filled its spacious interior with live bands, karaoke, a DJ — all the things that brought in the crowds.
But maintaining an establishment of more than 8,000 square feet hasn’t been easy in the current economy. Kotlarczyk said he began looking for a smaller space about eight months ago and found it inside the multi-tenant, 106-year-old building with the stone façade at the corner of Old Main Street and Manatee Avenue West. He’ll be sharing Old Main Street with his old stomping grounds, The Lost Kangaroo, which actually moved to a bigger site at the corner of Old Main and Fourth Avenue West more than a year ago.
“Yeah, it’s a little sense of a homecoming after working down there for four years,” he said. “I definitely like the community feel of having neighbors in the area. It will be nice to get in a place where there are other restaurants and other bars around.”
The Distillery has long offered one of the best beer selections in town, a tradition that will continue at the new digs, although space considerations may cause a reduction in the draft selection. The Distillery currently has 24 beers on tap, and they’re a beer geek’s dream: Lagunitas IPA, Magic Hat No. 9, Fat Cat Lager, Bell’s Two-Hearted Pale Ale and Kostriker Black Lager to name a few. The selection of bottled beers hovers around 60.
The Distillery is a full liquor bar with top-shelf brands and various wines. That will continue, too; Kotlarczyk said he’s considering adding more wines if the downtown market so dictates.
The Distillery recently closed off one of the two “wings” of the spacious building, but the band stage remains. Kotlarczyk said he's hopeful but isn’t sure if the new location will have room for bands.
Plans for the new bar include a limited food menu. Details aren’t finalized, but plans might include pizza slices for the late-night crowd. “People have a few beers and they want a slice or two of pizza,” he said. “We’re looking to fill that niche.”
A relationship Kotlarczyk wants to continue is The Distillery’s sponsorship of the Bradentucky Bombers, an all-women’s roller derby team known for its high-intensity, sometimes bone-crunching play (literally), not to mention its fishnet stockings, tattoos and punk rock persona. The Bombers play their home bouts at nearby Astro Skate, 3611 Third St. W., mostly on Sundays, and post-bout parties, with the Bombers still in full gear minus the skates, are always at The Distillery.
The new Distillery will be at 450 Old Main Street, a little bit farther of a travel from Astro Skate. If the Bombers are OK with that, The Distillery probably is, too. “We hope they are,” Kotlarczyk said.
IF YOU GO:
The Distillery Tavern, 108 44th Ave. E., is open from 1 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. seven days a week. It’s smoke friendly. It will probably maintain similar hours at the new location. The Distillery usually doesn’t have a cover unless there is a band on Friday or Saturday night. Click here for their website and calendar.
AROUND BRADENTON THIS WEEKEND:
- The 5th Annual Gulf Coast Rhythm & Ribfest is this weekend at the Manatee County Fairgrounds, 1402 14th Ave. W., in Palmetto. The three-day Ribfest starts Friday night. Live music, food and beverages for three days! Country music singer Kellie Pickler is headlining the event Saturday night. Click here for all the details.
- Cortez Clam Factory, 10104 Cortez Rd., is hosting a CD release party for The Loretta James Band at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The album, Don’t Start With Me, is the first from this blues/soul band from Bradenton. No cover.
- Join DJ Rafferdy & the Street Team Girls at Smitty's Pub & Grille, 3812 Manatee Ave. W., from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday. Ask about Smitty’s drink and shot specials for the evening. No cover.
- The new bar on the block has opened its doors! McCabe’s Irish Pub, 302 Old Main St., is open from noon-2 a.m. seven days a week and has live music this Saturday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. from Scottish folk singer J.J. Smith. No cover.
- Mattison’s Riverside, 1200 First Ave. W., is hosting Art Across the Spectrum, an evening of art, wine, hors d'oeuvres and an auction from 5-9 p.m. Sunday. The event benefits MAAP Services for Autism and Asperger. A recommended donation of $75 includes food, wine, soft drinks, and auction privileges. Reservations are recommended and can be made by contacting Susan Moreno or Sara Metts at 219-662-1311.