For Yianni Barakos, co-owner of Mason Dixon Distillery in Gettysburg, liquor-making runs in his blood. In fact, the enterprising Barakos, a self-proclaimed “tinkerer,” made his first still at the ripe age of 11 (from a cocktail napkin sketch his grandfather made of the equipment). Good thing his childlike passion for making liquor remains today, as he spent almost a year pouring his heart and soul into Mason Dixon Distillery, housed in a former furniture factory dating to the early 1900s. “The place had 90 years of dirt and grime, but there is 1,000 times more character than anything built new,” says Barakos, who hails from the construction business.
In partnership with his father, a restaurateur, Barakos is opening a three-part business: craft distillery, full-service restaurant and event space. The space will have a tasting room, with seating for about 100, as well as an outdoor space for over 300. Tours and tastings will be offered for groups seeking a post-meeting activity, and the restaurant, which offers a blend of “tasty, savory stuff from different cultures,” will be open for regular dining, as well as for private events. Mason Dixon Distillery takes its Gettysburg heritage very seriously. While it’s just a few blocks off the main town square, it’s what goes into the bottles that makes its really special. Barakos leases 47 acres on the Gettysburg Battlefield and plants rye and corn to harvest for his liquor. “You can truly take home some of the battlefield,” he says.