It's been around two years since the owner of Erie Distillery opened his doors.

In a year of challenges, he says the Erie community is what has kept him afloat. Sales of spirits turned from in-person to online, and a big pivot of products was also put into action during the pandemic. 

Customers notice a varied lineup of spirits when they walk into Erie Distillery. 

"I'm the mad scientist back here they say, you know," says owner David Harkness.

Harkness spends a lot of his time in his lab creating limoncello, apple pie moonshine, whiskey, white rum, vodka and gun, even coffee liquor, inside Erie Distillery, located in Millcreek Township's Peninsula Plaza. 

There is a nautical theme on the inside of the Erie Distillery and one thing that the owner wanted to make sure of is that everything was bought in the U.S.A. 

A flag hanging on the wall shows American pride. Other decor showcases local pride, with many of the items showcased given to the distillery by friends of the owner.

"Once everybody started raving about the products, we figured out we could mass produce it if we could get our distillery license and make our own spirits here," said Harkness. 

The former General Electric worker always had the hobby and getting a business degree solidified the distillery venture.

The business opened on Saint Patrick's Day in 2019. 

The first year was steady.

Then, barstools sat empty when the COVID-19 shutdown happened.

"And then I switched right over and started making hand sanitizer for the Erie County Health Department, the State Police and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Home," said Harkness. 

Following the recipe given out by the World Health Organization, the distillery began producing sanitizer, bottling it up and helping out the community. 

Harkness wasn't interested in making a profit. 

"I just charged them the material," said Harkness. "I didn't make a profit on it." 

Fast forward to now.

Booking musical acts has resumed for weekends at the distillery.

Patrons can again be served at the bar.

"I started out and it was such a rush to get things done," said Harkness. "What we ended up doing was slowing down. Slowed the whole process down, we're not in such a hurry and we just want to make good quality products."

What's next for Erie Distillery? 

Harkness says tequila is next on the spirit-making agenda for him. 

Many of the products from Erie Distillery are already in about a dozen other local businesses, including some restaurants. 

The distillery also offers free delivery within a five mile radius of purchased products.