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Road Trippin' : A Taste of History

Denny Bar Co.

It may be a quiet town of nearly 800 people, but there’s something in Etna, California many would not expect to find there.

“We distill a gin, Laust Sparrow Gin which is the last name of 2 of the partners. We do a Boulder Peak vodka -- a tribute to the highest peak in the Marble Mountains in this area,” Lance Banks says about the new distillery.

Denny Bar Company Distillery may have just opened its doors, but its story is rich with history and friendship.

The Denny Bar and Parker company building, built in 1880 has been a town landmark for decades.

“It was a general mercantile, general goods for the miners and people moving through at the time,” Banks says about the building.

It’s also the spot the owners set their sights on, “The premise was behind the 4 partners, they actually grew up in the area. They’ve always dabbled in homebrews and doing distillation out of the garage and when this building came on the market, they sat down with a couple of cocktails and thought this may be the perfect spot to bring this dream they had to life, to fruition.”

It was also something of a homecoming for them. They were wanting to invest back in the community and give something back to the place they grew up.

“We're starting a revolution here in Scott Valley as far as bars, distilleries, and restaurants, I think this is going to start something fresh and new as far as dining, drinking,” Pamela Montalvo says about the establishment.

Montalvo was hired on for a year to help get the business off to a solid start. She says a mutual friend hooked her up with the owners and her first thought as she contemplated the job, was where is Scott Valley?

“It is the middle of nowhere, let's be honest,” she laughs about the location, “It's the middle of nowhere, it's no man's land, but that's part of the exciting thing about it. That’s what's so exciting. It’s a hidden gem, a valley of unicorns, rainbows here that pop up out of nowhere, it's a wonderful place, almost a place you don't want anyone to know about, but as you live here and see the wonders of nature around you, it's a wonderful place,” Montalvo says.

Walking into the Denny Bar Company, you’re first hit with a wall of glass and behind it, copper and steel tanks for distilling vodka and gin. There’s also a wood-fired oven where cooks are hand-crafting pizzas.

In the back, Chef Adam Ornellas is turning up the heat with unique and comforting dishes. Ornellas has traveled and cooked around the world from Lisbon to New York but decided to settle in Etna to work at Denny Bar.

“What we try to do is mix a lot of Americana into our food, you can find fried chicken on the menu and it's one of our specialties,” Ornellas says.

The staff says it’s not necessarily the food, the cocktails or the distillery that makes Denny Bar special, but it’s the crew and the building they’re in. There’s history in every corner. In the back, the original safe is nestled in the corner.

“It once held gold. This building was the first licensed mercantile in California and went on to be a chain of mercantile stores in California,” Montalvo says.

In the front of the restaurant, the same logo canvasses the brick wall. At the top, there’s a compass, similar to the functioning compass found on every bottle distilled at Denny Bar Company.

It’s capped with, as the staff says, “discovery, adventure, and road-trippin'.”

And the idea you can always find your way back home.

Check out times, location, food and cocktail menu on Denny Bar’s website.

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