Up on the Hill at the ‘Still

This week, we take a look at another of our small bars, those tiny watering holes in which people meet and talk and share ideas and laughs and drinks and songs within very small confines. This particular spot is a favorite among Edgefield employees, known as simply the ‘Still.

It was the spirits that led you to the Distillery Bar. Perhaps you’ve ambled your way to the southern border of Edgefield for a glimpse at the gleaming copper-and-stainless-steel stills situated behind a wall of glass. Or was it the ghosts of Pub Course golfers past, whispering promises of a hole-in-one that drew you here? Either way, the spirits have enticed you to Edgefield’s golden triangle: distillery, golf course, bar.

Once a poor farm’s potato shed-turned-stables, from the concrete floors to the sawdust insulated walls and ceiling, the Distillery Bar is chock full of fascinating history. Boasting an impressive capacity of 8500 bushels of potatoes when it was constructed in 1941, by President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, the quality of its craftsmanship is still evident today.

So belly up to the handsome red oak bar, fashioned from an Edgefield alder tree downed by an ice storm, and peruse the menu of craft cocktails. Here you’ll discover creative concoctions featuring handcrafted brandies, whiskey and gin from the Edgefield Distillery. And when in Rome – that is, when at Edgefield – well you get where this was going. . . .

While you wait for that cocktail, check out the baffin’ spoons displayed above the liquor cabinet at the end of the back bar. Commissioned by the McMenamin brothers many years ago, baffin’ spoons are a throw-back to the days when fairway woods were more akin to field hockey sticks than to the modern wedge. As the legend goes, the woodworker managed to make a set of spoons that splintered or shattered on impact with any ball. Upon the brothers’ discovery that even the sturdiest walnut spoon couldn’t withstand the lightest stroke of a featherie ball, the baffin’ craftsman hightailed it to the hills, never to be heard from again.

And with the simple act of fleeing, the woodworking fugitive made the baffin’ spoons right at home with the 16-foot back bar, which once stood as the centerpiece of a hotel saloon in Aberdeen, Washington’s red light district, in the days of Prohibition. Aberdeen was an entry point for Canadian rumrunners in this era, so the bar is certain to have seen its share of revenuers’ midnight raids.

Drink-in-hand, pull up a seat at the Round Oak stove, which looks old world but is an all-American beauty. Let your eyes wander upwards to the intriguing pipe sculptures created by McMenamins plumber-turned-artist Jeff Allen. The piece may or may not be flowing with the moonshine magic of the Distillery on the other side of the weathered wall, but it will always cast a glow.

Have a gander at the intricate carvings of the wooden sign bearing symbols of Chinese well wishes. It is a piece that at first glimpse might seem out-of-place here. But the sentiment, translated by an employee’s mother, read “Light of the sun spreads to all places.” Seems as pertinent to the grain growers supplying the Edgefield Distillery as it is to the golfers gracing the Pub Course.

Boasting a bevy of etched-glass windows that once adorned two fine old English taverns, The White Horse Inn and Bellman’s Cross Inn, the sun is seemingly always shining here in the Distillery Bar.

Once you’ve soaked in the warmth, along with the rich historical ambiance, raise your glass to the spirits that brought you here. And when you’re ready to head for greener pastures, be sure to grab a club from by the door. After all, you can’t journey all the way to the edge of Edgefield without completing the golden triangle. The spirits simply won’t stand for it.

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