In rural Pennsylvania, near to Chocolatetown, USA, and at a new restaurant attached to a brewery, it seems improbable to find Billy Houck crafting cocktails. Not only does Koda appear incongruous to its surroundings, but Houck likely faces more restrictions than any other mixologist in the country. Since Koda operates under a brewery’s license, state law mandates that he use Pennsylvania-produced liquors only. Still, his cocktails, which incorporate spirits like Tattered Flag’s Blue Agave or Maggie’s Farm’s Dark Rum, are complex and tasty. He changes the menu with the season, choosing unusual themes; recently, he was inspired by the 1993 film The Sandlot: In A Pickle combines Bluecoat Gin, cucumber, dill, ginger, lime and homemade sweet garden bitters in an ode to the cult movie. Houck’s David E. Bourbon–based cocktail nods to Babe Ruth—legend to those Sandlot boys—and incorporates homemade complements: sweet vermouth, cherry bitters and mist harvested from Koda’s meat smoker.
8001 Union Station Blvd., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
This story appears in the print issue of October 2019.
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