11 Craft Distilleries Close to Home
Get an Uber and take a little hop around the DMV for some tastings.
Most local drinkers still know this outfit by the name of its flagship gin. And with good reason. In 2011, Green Hat Gin—named after the infamous Capitol Hill bootlegger—became the first (legally) made spirit in the District since Prohibition. Since then, partners Michael Lowe, a Navy submariner-turned-lawyer, and his son-in-law John Uselton, a restaurant vet, haven’t strayed far from gin, although they now produce season-specific versions, a Navy Strength (higher proof) and a Summer Cup, a local alternative to Pimm’s Cup. When you visit, don’t overlook the outstanding Capitoline vermouths, also produced here. –J.D.
1832 Fenwick St. NE, Washington, D.C.
Named for Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which provides for a federal district, this operation is the brainchild of an ex-attorney and an ex-biotech researcher. You’ll find well-made vodka and gin, but whiskey is their calling card. Rock Creek Whiskey is the first bourbon produced entirely in D.C. since Prohibition, but for something experimental, look to their “Untitled” series releases, which are sourced from elsewhere, then locally blended and aged in everything from cognac casks to coffee barrels. On Saturdays, the long, industrial-looking bar opens for tastings, flights and clever cocktails. –J.D.
1135 Okie St. NE, Washington, D.C.
Pia Carusone, one of Republic’s two co-founders, is a veteran of Democratic politics. No wonder, then, that the 2-year-old, crowdfunded distillery’s flagship rye is called Rodham, in deference not only to the former New York senator of the same name, but also to the Hudson Valley spring water that goes into it. You can take a seat at the bar and get a taste, along with Borough Bourbon and Civic Vodka. Or better yet, let the mixologists stir you up a drink. Look for Republic’s spirits to be on a lot more shelves in Virginia in 2018. –J.D.
1369 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C.
Blink and you might miss this microdistillery that’s been operating out of an industrial strip in Rockville since 2014. Inside, you’ll find Edgardo Zuniga, a former chef originally from Costa Rica, running the stills and filling the bottles. As the founder of the first licensed distillery in Montgomery County since Prohibition, Zuniga originally set out to reclaim some of Maryland’s distilling history, primarily in the form of rye and rum. Now, he’s expanded to vodka, bourbon, even coffee liqueur and apple-cinnamon whiskey. Expect more bourbon releases this year, all made from 100 percent Free State grain. –J.D.
711 E. Gude Drive, Rockville, Maryland