Get in the DC spirit at these local distilleries offering award-winning drinks, tours and more.
It seems fitting that in the region that serves as the birthplace of American whiskey and in close proximity to where Congress ratified the amendment that brought Prohibition to an end is a thriving vodka, gin, rum and whiskey distillery scene. In recent years many DC locals have turned their hand to craft distilling. See how spirits are made and sample the end results at these great distilleries in and around the nation's capital.
Founding Spirits at Farmers & Distillers
From the minds behind Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers comes this distillery and restaurant near Chinatown. Founding Spirits, the restaurant's micro-batch distillery, currently specializes in the production of small-batch vodka, whiskey and amaro. The in-house spirits are incorporated into an extensive cocktail list, so pair your drink with a menu covering a wide range of cuisines: you can dine on imperial spring rolls and dumplings or oysters, order a filet mignon or a vegetarian dish, sample the daily catch or savor handmade pasta.
One Eight Distilling
Whether you’re in want of whiskey, long for gin or hanker for vodka, One Eight Distilling has all tastes covered. Most of the spirits are named after DC locales and even the distillery’s name pays homage to the District with Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution responsible for the establishment of the nation’s capital. Guests can sample spirits and enjoy on-site outdoor bar service at The Still Yard on Saturdays. Indoor bar service is now also available. Stop by Friday through Sunday to shop in-person, while Saturdays offer cocktails and snacks.
Green Hat Distillery
According to local myth, the “Man in the Green Hat” became a DC legend for his sly work as bootlegger to Capitol Hill during Prohibition. While he was arrested on several occasions, visitors to Green Hat Distillery will not be subjected to drinking moonshine or harsh penalties. Instead, they can snag to-go bottles of gin (or some aged New Columbia Distillers' rye, aronia gin or barrel-aged gins). The distillery plans to open back up for cocktails and tastings starting June 5, 2021.
Cotton & Reed
You could say this rum distillery was written in the stars. Get this, Cotton & Reed's co-founders discovered they had a shared passion for spirits while working at NASA. In addition to taking reservations at its streatery patio and its Annex space, the distillery offers up to-go bottles, drinks and cocktail kits and gift sets. Just in time for summer, make sure to try the Cocomotion, a boozy slushie starring white rum, coconut, pineapple, and pandan.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Distillery
One of the lesser-known facts about the first President of the United States is that he had a highly successful whiskey business. Encouraged by his Scottish farm manager, Washington began distilling in the early 1790s and by the time of his death had the largest whiskey distillery in America. A visit to the functioning Distillery & Gristmill is included with General Admission Ticket to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. It operates early spring through the end of October on Saturday & Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and costs a Hamilton ($10) to visit.
Not only is Republic Restoratives 100% women-owned and LGBTQ+-owned, it is the largest crowd-funded distillery in the world. The owners are longtime friends who believe in the power of a cocktail to bring communities together. Spirits range from Purpose Rye and Civic Vodka to Madam, a new commemorative whiskey in honor of Vice President Kamala Harris whose label was designed by local artist @thelexmarie. While distillery tours are currently paused, bottle sales are available for local delivery, pick-up and nationwide shipping.
Don Ciccio & Figli
For 100-plus years, the family of Don Ciccio & Figli’s founder produced liquors on Italy’s Amalfi coast. Luckily for DC, those traditions are being revived in this Ivy City distillery with Italian spirits such as limoncello, amaro and aperitifs created with recipes that have been handed down through generations. Attend free tastings on Saturdays, or reserve a spot at Bar Sirenis, which serves a selection of specialty cocktails (think negronis and spritzes) on Saturdays as well. You can also learn how to make new cocktails with virtual classes, and shop for various ingredients and spirits that you can pick up Thursdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. The distillery also does home deliveries and can ship across the U.S.
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