Social Still opened around a year and a half ago in a glorious old bank building dating back to 1919. Back then it was home to Gosztonyi Savings and Trust which catered to Eastern European immigrants who worked at Bethlehem Steel. The bank was run by a woman who became Pennsylvania’s first female bank president.
Social Still’s owners Elaine Pivinski and Adam Flatt (of Franklin Hill Winery fame) have created something here that is very special – fine quality, small batch handcrafted spirits made from Pennsylvania grains and corn with only their malts and barley coming from outside the state – from Ireland! The distilling process takes place before your eyes in the fascinating stainless steel and copper mashing and distillation equipment glass-encased behind the bar. Aging and storage is done on the lower floor in 100% White American Oak barrels with additional storage in the old bank vault on the main floor. Oak barrels are only used once for the aging and storage of spirits. They may be used again for wine but not for spirits.
Distilleries have been around forever but virtually disappeared during Prohibition. It’s only fitting that this local “Revolution in American Spirits” is located in a Prohibition-Era building in historical Downtown Bethlehem. Social Still is truly a unique addition to the local dining scene. I URGE you to take an informative tour of this location before enjoying drinks and a tasty meal. Adam will be very happy to oblige. Tom and I found it very interesting. Adam is totally involved in this undertaking. He loves what he’s doing at Social Still and honors his craft. It shows in his enthusiasm and is evident in the immaculate surrounds of this beautiful location.
We enjoyed watching Angelina working magic behind the bar creating libations with names like “Honey, I Shrunk the Gin,” “Planet of the Apricots” and “Owl at the Moon” – just a few of the couple dozen specialty cocktails on Social Still’s menu. Keep in mind that all their spirits are distilled in house as are their bitters, simple syrups and infused liquors so their drinks take on a life and taste of their own. This is a place to experiment and enjoy something totally different. Tom had a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, and lime) served traditionally in a copper mug. I sipped a G & T – Grapefruit and Thyme infused gin, grapefruit syrup, and tonic garnished with a sprig of fresh thyme while enjoying interesting conversation with others.
Glass runs from the floor to the at least 30 foot ceiling behind the bar exposing gleaming stainless and copper distillation and mashing equipment that is a functioning work of art. Older bank buildings afford an incredibly unique space with which to work and here, it all works exceptionally well. Social Still is a wide open space of tables and high tops with beautiful windows, attractive lighting and original terrazzo floors. Terrazzo floors hold up well to high foot traffic. They never lose their sheen. That’s why you so often see them in older commercial establishments.
There is a lounge area with comfy couches where you can enjoy a quiet drink with friends above the main dining room as well as the veranda dining space (that accommodates 35) where we sat allowing for a terrific view. (Both are available for private parties.)
Deena was our server upstairs. I ordered as a starter a deliciously savory Tuscan Style Cod Chowder. This hearty soup was chock-a-block with veggies and escarole and was a spicy delight. Tom enjoyed his lightly fried Calamari with hot peppers and Sriracha Aioli. I found the Aioli very good adding spice to the tasty calamari. Other appetizers include an Ahi Tuna Tartar Martini with toasted sesame seeds, Wakame salad, apples, wasabi foam and wonton chips; Crab Mac and Cheese; Charcuterie plate as well as salads.
As an entree, I ordered Angel Hair Pasta with shrimp, garlic oil, cherry tomatoes, shallots, peas, and shaved Asiago. I enjoyed this dish – it was light and a great follow up to the robust soup. Tom ordered a Tuscan Style Flatbread with Prosciutto, Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Arugula, and Balsamic Reduction. The dish was good but we agreed that my pasta was the winner! Other entrees include Penne Pasta with braised short ribs; Blackened Atlantic Salmon; BBQ Pork Shank; Maryland-Style Crab Cake; Fish and Chips and Hagar Steak all interestingly prepared by Chef Phillip Ruggerio, a graduate of Northampton Community College’s Culinary Arts program with former experience at Terry’s in Easton and Paulo’s in Northampton. Burgers and other light fare are also available.
For dessert we shared delicious walnut and fig ice cream supplied to Social Still from “Nuts About Ice Cream” located nearby. I enjoyed a cup of hot coffee as well which was a perfect ending. Tom finished a flight of spirits that included a small taste of all four liquors distilled there – Bourbon, Gin, Rye, and Vodka. He found all the spirits to be very interesting.
As of right now, the house-distilled spirits are the only alcohol that is served at Social Still and they are available for purchase. However, by the time this article goes to print, they should have approval from the State to serve Franklin Hill wines as well as local craft beers.
Social Still is conveniently located at 530 East Third Street in South Bethlehem. There is parking both on the street and in a nearby lot. Plan a time to visit Social Still but, please allow extra time to take a tour. Visit socialstill.com and check out the informative website, view menu offerings and make an on-line reservation. Be prepared to enjoy something different with an eclectic group of revelers and some pretty good food to boot!