The Oregon District will soon have a new craft cocktail bar in a venue that would have been impossible before a 2016 change in state law.
The Belle of Dayton Distillery shut down its tasting room and gift shop on May 15 so it can be transformed into a craft cocktail room, to be called the “Van Buren Room,” founders and brothers Murphy and Mike LaSelle told this news outlet today. The distillery is located at 122 Van Buren St. in Dayton’s Oregon Historic District.
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Plans call for “an intimate space, including windows looking into the federally bonded distillery, with an early 1900s look and feel,” Belle of Dayton’s owners said in a release. It will seat about 47 and will feature classic cocktails with Belle of Dayton spirits along with rare and experimental releases, the LaSelle brothers said.
Locally produced craft beer in cans and bottles, other Ohio distilled spirits, and an extensive selection of gin, bourbon, Scotch, and rye Whiskies also will be available. Food will be served, “but cocktails are the primary focus,” Murphy LaSelle told this news outlet.
Until 2016, the project would have been prohibited under state law. But House Bill 351 — co-sponsored by State Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) and approved in 2016 — allowed distilleries to obtain a permit allowing them to serve their distilled liquor, and other alcoholic beverages, by the glass for consumption on the distillery’s premises. The new law put Ohio’s craft distilleries on level ground with Ohio’s brewpubs and wineries, which already had that option. The legislation also allowed distilleries to serve food.
“By obtaining this permit, Ohio distillers will be able to operate more like a bar, attracting consumers who are interested in enjoying the microdistillery’s product on site,” Ohio House Republicans wrote on their “Majority Caucus Blog” in April 2016.
The Van Buren Room at Belle of Dayton is tentatively scheduled to open in August 2018, Murphy LaSelle said. Plans call for being open five days a week with regular bar hours, LaSelle said.
Belle of Dayton will continue distilling and bottling throughout renovations, although the tasting room/gift shop will be closed to the public until the Van Buren Room opens. The Belle of Dayton is currently seeking qualified candidates for bartenders “who share the same creative passion for spirits” as the distillery. The distillery owners said resumes can be mailed to email@example.com.
Since opening in 2014, the Belle of Dayton Distillery has won multiple awards and recognition for its pot-distilled, small-batch spirits, including a coveted Double Gold medal for its Dayton Gin at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.