By Riley Holcraft, Staff Writer —
The Chattanooga Choo Choo, a hotel and event center previously known as Chattanooga’s Train Terminal Station, offers many different experiences for tourists and locals alike. On Friday, February 8, the Choo Choo added to their list of unique offerings.
Gate 11, a brand new distillery and cocktail bar, is housed in a location that used to be a passageway for travelers to board trains at the Station. Now, Gate 11 Distillery offers an indoor and outdoor bar, liquor sold by the bottle, live music, and group tours.
The historical space was redesigned into a well-lit, clean, and casual environment, but it still contains pieces of Gate 11 history, such as a restored train track and the original ticketing window.
Much like the atmosphere, the menu at Gate 11 provides traditional and modern options- a craft cocktail for everyone! The location even includes a to-go window for customers on the run.
The founder, Bill Lee, has had 20 years of experience as a distiller, and he designed the three different stills in the store. His work has been mainly concentrated in the midwest; however, he explained that, “It was time to return home and practice the art [of distilling] in Chattanooga.”
Lee is native to Bledsoe County and a graduate of Baylor School, which is a private local boarding school. He is excited to bring his work home, and he added that “Chattanooga is great because it is a very active tourist market with a growing nightlife scene on the Southside.”
The UTC community is encouraged to come out and see what Gate 11 is all about. “Students of legal age may enjoy craft cocktails made with our own vodka, gin, and rum. We also have musical entertainment and food from nearby eateries,” verified Lee.
Food offerings come from local businesses, including Bleu Fox, Main Street Meats, and Frothy Monkey. Acoustic, listening-room style entertainment from local artists is also provided in the evenings.
In addition, Lee offers a “Tennessee Whiskey Experience” in which he shares his extensive knowledge with groups that wish to learn more about whiskey-making through hands-on instruction. Participants will also be allowed to take home some of their handiwork.
Lee sees a bright future for his business and stated that the distillery, “wants to become a compelling destination for pre-dinner cocktail hour and evening entertainment. We also want to become the choice for locally distilled and bottled vodka, gin, and rum in the area.”
The Gate 11 Distillery itself is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and the bar is open 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 3- 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday.