It's Friday night in Branson and we are on our way to local distillery and restaurant, Missouri Ridge. Missouri Ridge Distillery is about 10 minutes outside of downtown Branson off of Highway 465. You are pretty sure you are nowhere when you come upon his gun toting, moonshine-making hillbilly sign that lets you know, in no uncertain terms, that you have arrived. Pulling in, I noticed the breathtaking views right away. This is a place where I want to eat a meal and stare at the countryside. As we pull in, I notice that we are a little early meeting our friends for dinner. So, I jump out of my truck and start exploring the grounds. It's a simple setup. There are amazing views and a small outdoor seating area on one side with the warehouse space on the other.
We eventually make our way indoors and decide to get a cocktail while we wait. It doesn't take us long to get the feeling that we are a little early for the distillery too. They seem unprepared for the Friday night dinner crowds. However, we were totally being early birds that night and arrived before 5pm. This is what happens when I restrict my eating all day so I can party on at night. The bartender, Logan, kept us entertained while we waited for our drinks and for the restaurant to officially open the kitchen (meaning the meat needed more time on the smoker). Meanwhile, our friends arrive and we make a plan for the drink menu. The drink menu highlights their locally distilled spirits while also offering a full tasting flight of all they have to offer. We decide to order a flight and various cocktails so we can all enjoy the different flavors. I ordered a Three Dog Night. This was a mix of their rum, corn whiskey and moonshine blended with blackberry and Coke. It was really good! The boys in our group stuck to single spirits such as their Apple Pie and Peach Moonshines. Both of which were fantastic!
After a little back and forth with the owner, who seemed distracted by a new griddle being delivered during dinner service and the fact that 2 of their regular employees had called in that night. He did finally pause for a moment to pour the flights of his award winning moonshine and whiskies. The Single Malt Whisky and "Sugar Shine" were stand outs, but it was his flavored moonshines that made us want more. Owner, Greg Pope, told us that he only uses all natural ingredients to make his flavored shines. I have to say that it definitely shows in the flavor. We walked away with the peach flavor while our friends left with apple pie.
Now that I've been drinking for a while, I realize that I need food. So, they bring out a couple of orders of their BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos for us to devour. As far as BBQ goes, I'm a bit of a snob. It's the Texan in me that has had some of the world's best bbq around. However, in our current lubricated state, those nachos were doing the trick. Perfect for soaking up the booze while large enough to share with friends. A few drinks later, we decide to order a rack of ribs to test out the product. These were brought out plain without sauce. There was a light seasoning, but he chose to let the meat stand on it's on. I appreciated the fact that the ribs were falling off the bone, but I would've liked a little more here. The sides didn't come out until the ribs were almost gone. I choose to attribute this to him being understaffed rather than just bad service. I never saw an employee stop moving the entire time we were there. I was pretty full by the time the sides arrived so I didn't get overly excited. The coleslaw was a good vinegar-based slaw that was neither too sweet or tart. The baked potato casserole was not something easily described. All I can truly say is that I wouldn't order it again. The boys liked it though so more for them I suppose.
Overall, I would consider Missouri Ridge Distillery a great place to meet friends for drinks, great conversation, and a simple meal. Be sure to pick up one of their moonshines because they are top notch. You can tell that the owner's passion is in the distilling process, and getting him to pour your tasting flight is the only way to go.