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Keeping Things Civil in Gettysburg

During the Civil War, the dish was a favorite among the Georgia militia. And it has become popular again in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, at the Historic Farnsworth House Inn, which serves Civil War-era inspired food.

Gettysburg’s culinary attractions can turn routine group meals into entertaining and enlightening events. Whether the choice is a period-authentic restaurant or a comprehensive city food tour, Gettysburg offers a variety of options that cater to groups. Even tastings at the Mason Dixon Distillery or the Adams County Winery keep the focus local to showcase the town’s momentous past and thriving present.

Historic Farnsworth House Inn

Peanut soup, game pie and sweet pickled watermelon rind take visitors’ taste buds back to the Civil War era at the Historic Farnsworth House Inn. But the inn’s two restaurants go beyond food to immerse guests fully in the period.

The inn’s Meade and Lee dining rooms feature 1800s decor, displays of Civil War pictures and servers in period attire. At the more informal Sweney’s Tavern, diners can browse through a collection of costumes and props from the 1993 movie “Gettysburg.”

The inn also provides historic tours of the 1810 home. Tours begin in the cellar, where guests learn about the home and how it once housed Confederate sharpshooters and a hospital. Groups then climb to the attic, which holds a collection of Civil War artifacts.

Interested groups can also choose from several ghost-themed tours, including the Mourning Theater, in which guests step into a room decorated to look like a Victorian Mourning Parlor.

Groups can eat outside at a re-created Civil War Camp to feel like part of the historic experience. The Eat in Camp package includes a costumed interpreter and a meal in the same area where the Louisiana Tigers ate during the Gettysburg Battle. Another program called In Their Shoes lets groups experience what a day was like in the life of a soldier. Each participant is given a wooden replica rifle, a hat and a card with personal details of a different Civil War soldier.

“The costumed historian will walk them through the history and the realities of being a soldier,” said Rachel Wright, media relations manager for Destination Gettysburg. “They learn how to hold a rifle and go through drills. It is a cool experience.”

Mason Dixon Distillery

The owners of the Mason Dixon Distillery do not simply concoct spirits with Civil War-inspired names. They seek to create as authentic an experience as possible. The distillery partners with the National Park System to grow their grain right on the nearby Gettysburg Battlefield.

The small-batch distillery also uses locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. The distillery even grows a garden for its restaurant’s seasonal menu.

“Mason Dixon Distillery offers distillery tours, as well as meal and beverage packages for groups,” said Wright. “The owner and distiller will take you around the distillery and explain the process from grain to bottle. He is an interesting guide, so it is a fun tour.”

Tours allow participants to smell the head-spinning vapors coming off a maturing barrel. The owner also shares the history of the distillery, which opened in a century-old furniture factory after careful renovations.

After a tour, groups can sample spirits, purchase bottles and order cocktails such as Lavender Lemonade, Watermelon Splash or The Commonwealth. The distillery produces vodka, rum and corn whiskey and has plans to expand its whiskey and gin offerings.

Savor Gettysburg Food Tours

Instead of limiting a group’s city tour to looking out the motorcoach window, group leaders can break up the tour with delicious food. Savor Gettysburg Food Tours offers both walking tours and step-on motorcoach tours that combine the town’s culinary highlights with its culture and history.

“The tour is a great way to get a sense of the town,” said Wright. “It’s also a great option for groups that have been to Gettysburg before but want to do something different. It puts the destination in a new perspective.”

The three-hour Historic Downtown Food Tour features six local eateries, including an eclectic restaurant, an Irish pub, a Thai restaurant and a homemade-ice-cream shop. One stop — the Hoof, Fin and Fowl — serves sustainably sourced seafood, beef, poultry and game meats.

The Group Bus Tour Package lasts 2.5 hours with four tasting locations and intriguing history lessons. During the holidays, the 12 Tastes of Christmas Holiday Walking Food Tour delivers the town’s glittering lights, decorated storefronts and 30-foot-tall downtown Christmas tree with festive flavors to match.

For groups of 15 or fewer, the Field-to-Fork Agritourism Experience is a daylong tour of local farms. Participants learn the process of making artisan goat cheese, pick their own harvest at an orchard and harvest vegetables at a local farm. At the final destination, a local chef takes the collected products and creates a tasty meal to serve under the farm’s enormous maple tree.

Adams County Winery

Walking up to the Adams County Winery, visitors sometimes receive a welcome from Rusty, resident golden retriever and winery mascot. The friendly dog reflects the laid-back attitude of the winery that strives to appeal to wine connoisseurs and newcomers alike.

The 1975 winery grows six varieties of grapes on-site, so they can offer wines with flavors ranging from sweet red to dry white. The owners even grow an acre of blueberries to make their popular Yankee Blue.

Nestled against the base of South Mountain, the winery has garnered numerous awards over the years. Its Terrace Bistro specializes in wood-fired pizza for an end-of-the-day comfort food experience.

“Adams County Winery is the oldest winery in Adams County and the fifth oldest in Pennsylvania,” said Wright. “They have a private room where they usually send groups for tastings. Groups can work with the winery to have food prepared for them ahead of time. During the warmer months, there is always some event going on. They have a lot of live music. Food, live music and wine makes for a wonderful evening.”

Groups can choose from several tour and tasting packages, including the Upgraded Tasting with six samples of wine and a souvenir wine glass. The Taste of History Tour and Tasting package incorporates tales from Gettysburg’s past into the experience. For a more private tour, the Experience Tour and Tasting package offers behind-the-scenes information, a barrel draw of wine and additional tastings and paired snacks.