Bozeman Spirits bottles

A collection of some of the liquors available at Bozeman Spirits. 

The first ever Montana Distillers Festival will be serving up Montana-made cocktails at the Rialto on Saturday.

“This is such a fun opportunity for all of us to gather under one roof and showcase what we do,” said Mary Pat Harris, the co-owner of Bozeman Spirits distillery. Bozeman Spirits and Harris are part of the Montana Distillers Guild, a coalition of distilleries around Montana. The guild is behind the festival, which will feature 12 Montana distilleries from as far away as Whitefish.

“For all of us to come together as a guild and do an event at this size is a first,” said Harris. She said the guild plans to make the festival an annual event, similar to the Montana Brewer’s beer festivals — but with much stronger drinks. Each of the 12 distilleries will be showcasing one to two of its spirits in the form of mini-cocktails.

“It’s important we work together,” said Harris about the guild. “It’s also important that we are working together with the liquor stores and the tavern owners as a liquor coalition.”

The festival offers two levels of tickets: general admission, which run $30 for eight drink tickets, and VIP tickets, which are $50 and come with some perks. VIP ticket holders can get into the Rialto at 2:30 p.m., an hour earlier than GA ticket holders, and have unlimited drink tickets. Those with VIP tickets also have the opportunity to participate in a Montana Whiskey 101 class.

“We are going to detail some of the whiskies that are made here in Montana and some of the grains and farms they come from,” said Harris. But the VIP ticket holders won’t be the only ones who can learn from the festival. “When you’re doing the tastes of the cocktails, you’ll be able to talk to those distillers and find out where those grains [are from], what is that base grain in that vodka or that whiskey or gin.”

Harris said tickets are limited to 250 attendees, so she and the rest of the guild expect the event to sell out.

“It’s a really great group of community people and some very flavorful libations and some appetizers to enjoy,” she said.

The inaugural Montana Distillers Festival takes place on Saturday, between 2:30 and 6 p.m., at the Rialto Theater in downtown Bozeman. Tickets are available at the event and on the Montana Distillers Guild website, montanadistillers.org.

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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