New Liberty Distillery is going al fresco

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Updated June 23

Philly has become beer garden central. It seems like new ones pop up nearly every week — but a beer garden is not what’s coming to the space behind the Crane Arts building in Kensington. Instead, the 3,500-square-foot courtyard will be home to something slightly different.

Since it’ll be operated by New Liberty Distillery, you might call it a “booze garden.”

For the past three years, the local spirits company run by master distiller Rob Cassell has made its home in the former Crane Company stable, which is just north of the wedge-shaped former warehouse at the intersection of Master and New American streets. On the ground floor is the still; barrels aging whiskey are stored on the second; and there’s a full-service bar and tasting room on the third.

Now there’ll be a fourth space: that outdoor courtyard, which will welcome people five days a week for al fresco fun.

Per events and operations manager Johnny Della Polla, as soon as paperwork is finalized, the garden will be open Wednesday through Sunday, serving food from Di Bruno Bros., sweets from Franklin Fountain, and drinks with spirits made just a few feet away.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Della Polla said, explaining that up to now, the Crane Arts landlords and tenants had only ever used the hideaway for storage. “It totally deserves to be something more. It’s really very beautiful.”

Surrounded on two edges by the buildings, the rest of the quadrangle is fenced in by high wooden walls, with entrance gates on both sides. Landscaped garden areas are scattered around the mostly-concrete ground, and there’s plenty of space for kids to play.

There’s room for dogs, too — Della Polla is a total puppy junkie, so he made sure of that — and the pups will even be allowed to enter the distillery.

You can preview the new space on Sunday at the Ultimate Philly Food Truck Celebration. Hosted by Billy Penn, this is set to be an all-ages shindig to remember, with live music, food, spirits and the extra edge of competition, since you’ll be able to cast a vote in the Final Four round of our bracket.

Admission to the June 24 party, which runs 1 to 4 p.m., include all you can eat from four mobile vendors setting up on site:

New Liberty staff will be pouring samples and tastes of many of the house spirits, and there’ll also be beer and other drinks available. Tickets are $20 ($10 for kids), available here.

It makes a great kick-off to the city’s newest non-beer garden

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Danya Henninger

Danya Henninger is director of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the...