Mississippi River Distilling Co. ‘showcasing spirits’ in new Davenport location

A local distillery expanding its business to downtown Davenport wants to “showcase our spirits” while also showcasing part of local history.

The Mississippi River Distilling Co. (MRDC) is opening its Downtown Davenport Lounge at 318 E. Second St.. The lounge will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, June 24, to help usher in its official opening.

Ryan Burchett, owner of the Mississippi River Distilling Co., is shown inside the company’s new Downtown Davenport Lounge at 318 E. Second St. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

The company, with its original location at 303 N. Cody Road, LeClaire, had a soft opening of its new Davenport site on Friday, June 17, for its “fan base,” said Ryan Burchett, MRDC owner.

“People have been very excited that we are here. This is a great historical building as far as the bones go.”

Founded in 2010, MRDC will maintain its current operations in LeClaire, including its production facility, cocktail house and its new Celebration Center event venue.

In addition to featuring its unique cocktail offerings at a new site, Mr. Burchett is trying to save and honor a part of Davenport history by fixing up a historical building.

Since this spring, MRDC has been renovating that downtown building – at a cost of about $350,000. Some of the work included knocking down walls and cleaning up the old Italian marble floors. 

Today, the renovated building features modern furniture in the bar area, a new cigar lounge, but also nods to the past. In fact, there is a massive photo of the building’s exterior from the 1920s on the back wall of the lounge.

“We’re really excited about this and what’s happening here,” Mr. Burchett added.

MRDC’s customers may like the touches of history in the downtown building, but it’s the unique cocktails that keeps them coming in the doors. The business owner said that a cocktail called the Bix Boulevardier – made of Cody Road Rye, bitter liquor, sweet vermouth and orange zest – has been an early fan favorite at the downtown lounge. Mr. Burchett  calls the drink a “nice twist to a standard cocktail.”

A few of the other drinks offered at the lounge include:

  • Purple Rain: Made of River Rose Gin, blueberry, lemon, mint and soda.
  • River Dragon: River Pilot Vodka, dragon fruit, desert pear, edible glitter and soda.
  • Smoke Show: Smoked River Baron Spirit, grapefruit, lime, tajin rim.
  • Iowish Coffee: Cody Road Bourbon, Iowish cream, hot coffee.
  • Spiritual Hops:  River Rose Gin, vermouth, sage syrup, IPA Reduction, Faba Foam, bitters.
  • The Dude: Iowish Cream, Iowa Coffee Company liqueur, coffee concentrate.

In addition to the bar area and many drinks offered to its customers, the Downtown Davenport Lounge has a back production area. (The front bar area has about 2,000 square feet and seats 90 people. The back area, mostly used for production and a warehouse, has about 4,000 square feet.) 

Some of that back area of the business is still a work in progress, but should be complete in the coming days, Mr. Burchett said. Also, the back area will soon feature a bottling line machine to help in the production side of the business. It is expected to arrive soon and will cover the entire back wall in the rear of the business.

The new MRDC business expansion will help the community by creating more jobs, and is receiving help from the community. Mr. Burchett said the lounge will add about 12 new jobs. The project was awarded a Downtown Davenport Partnership (DDP) improvement grant program and funding through the City of Davenport’s small business loan program. 

Kyle Carter, DDP executive director, called the new downtown lounge “a welcome addition to our growing family of the Quad Cities’ best and most-beloved local brands. Their new facility is a perfect fit on East Second Street, and we’re eager to see MRDC bring its unique character and top-notch product to the neighborhood,” he said in a news release announcing the new location this spring.

The lounge’s hours are: 4-10 p.m., Mondays through Wednesdays; 4 p.m. to midnight Thursdays through Saturdays; and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays, according to the company’s website at www.mrdistilling.com.

Mr. Burchett said he looks forward to serving the community, and he hopes to create a new generation of fans with MRDC’s unique offerings. “Folks just won’t find other places like this,” he added.

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