“Celebrate Iowa” gala to feature 175th anniversary cocktail from LeClaire distillery

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The annual Celebrate Iowa gala in Des Moines will include a special “Iowa 175” cocktail created by Mississippi River Distilling Co. in LeClaire.

Iowans from across the state are invited to enjoy uniquely Iowan art, history, food and entertainment during the 10th-annual Celebrate Iowa Gala presented by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. 

The state’s premier cultural celebration returns to an in-person format Friday, Dec. 10, at the historic Scottish Rite Consistory, 519 Park St., Des Moines, as Iowa revs up for its 175th statehood anniversary. Iowa joined the Union on Dec. 28, 1846.

“The gala will feature the best of Iowa at a time when people are ready to celebrate in-person again with live music, culture and the culinary arts,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs director Chris Kramer said in a Friday release. “This event will build momentum as Iowa’s creative sector reopens. It’s part of our statewide campaign to encourage Iowans to ‘Re-Imagine, Re-Engage and Re-Connect’ with arts and culture — and each other.”

Over the last decade, the Celebrate Iowa Gala has raised critical dollars for statewide programs of the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Funds from the gala have helped the society create new exhibits, develop educational programs for children and lifelong learners, increase access to the state’s vast collection and launch a mobile museum in a custom-built Winnebago that recently embarked on its second 99-county tour.

After last year’s virtual gala, this year’s event returns to an in-person format featuring live musical performances by the Awful Purdies, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Phineas Pope; an exhibit of new artwork inspired by Iowa history; a pop-up display from the State Historical Museum of Iowa, hand-drawn portraits from the Portrait Studio; and specialties from some of Iowa’s most popular restaurants.

Plus, guests will be able to sample a signature “Iowa 175” cocktail from the Mississippi River Distilling Co. in LeClaire, as well as an “1846 Corn Lager,” produced with old-fashioned brewing techniques at Court Avenue Brewing Co. in Des Moines.

Ryan Burchett, owner of Mississippi River Distilling, said the Iowa 175 will be made with their Iowish Whiskey, homemade sour, rosemary, raspberry, cinnamon and clove. “It will be a delicious holiday treat,” he said.

Last year for the virtual gala, they made a cocktail called the “Buffalo Bill,” named after LeClaire’s most famous son. It is Cody Road Bourbon with Great River Maple Syrup from Garnavillo, Iowa and black walnut bitters. It’s one of the most popular cocktails at the Cody Road Cocktail House at the distillery, 303 N. Cody Rd., LeClaire.

“We are looking forward to returning to the event this year,” Burchett said Monday. “We’ve been doing it for eight years now and we really missed doing it in person last year. We know it will be another great evening in Des Moines this year, as always.”

Celebrate Iowa Gala tickets range from $125 to $250, with discounted $100 tickets for young professionals (40 and younger). Proceeds from the event go to the Iowa Historical Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports statewide initiatives of the State Historical Society of Iowa.

For $250: Admission to the Celebrate Iowa Gala and the 6 p.m. VIP reception with exclusive entertainment, cuisine and more.

For $125: Admission to the Celebrate Iowa Gala with live performances, original Iowa-inspired beverages and specialties from Iowa’s most popular restaurants.

For $100: Admission to the Celebrate Iowa Gala for young professionals, aged 40 and younger.

For tickets and more information, visit iowaculture.gov.

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