D.C. distilling: Green Hat gin

A New Green Hat in Town: DC’s First MicrodistilleryWashingtonian
Following the trend microbrewery openings in and around Washington, D.C., a microdistillery has opened up. Green Hat, named for Capitol Hill Prohibition bootlegger George Cassiday’s signature headware, is producing gin and rye.

In 1920, fresh off a tour of duty in World War I, the West Virginia native walked off a French freighter and into one of the worst job markets in US history. With Prohibition in full swing, a well-paid friend explained that bootlegged booze was bringing a pretty penny. Especially with DC politicos.

(George) Cassiday would wheel his heavy luggage, overfilled with liquor, into the House Office Building, tip his trademark topper to the door guards, and make his rounds of discreet bureau drawers and library shelves—responding to 25 calls a day, on average, from thirsty lawmakers.

Cassiday got busted and moved his bootlegging to the Capitol lawn, eventually having to start making his own. That’s the story that Michael Lowe and son-in-law John Uselton are building a brand around at the District’s first legal distillery since before Prohibition. Their gin is available at several liquor stores, including Ace Beverage where my friend Joe works. I haven’t tried it yet, but probably will when the weather warms up again.

Another distillery, Catocin Creek in Purcellville, Va. distills white and rye whiskeys, gin, and brandy. I have not tried that either, but want to do so sometime in the New Year.

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NJ Turnpike expansion between exits 6 and 9 moving right along

Photo by I.C. Ligget – The control cities are weak, should be Del Mem Br/Baltimore/Washington

Working to end the bottlenecks
The Inky
The extension of the New Jersey Turnpike car-bus-truck lanes southward to Exit 6, the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange is progressing well.

Billed as the biggest ongoing roadway project in the United States, the undertaking will transform the turnpike into a 12-lane highway from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Connector at Exit 6 in Burlington County to Exit 9 in New Brunswick, where it is already that wide.

Trucks and buses will be restricted to the three outer lanes in each direction; only cars will be allowed in the three inside lanes in each direction.

Currently, about 130,000 vehicles a day use the 35-mile turnpike stretch in the work zone.

With a price tag of $2.5 billion – all of it from tolls – the widening work has created thousands of jobs on and off site since work began in 2009 and is costlier than any individual highway project that was undertaken with federal stimulus funding.

The Turnpike Authority’s chief engineer, Rich Raczynski, says the project is two-thirds complete and on target to be finished by fall 2014…

…Actual planning for the project dates to 2004, and Raczynski said the intervening financial crisis had worked in the authority’s favor.

“The economic collapse helped us,” he said. “The heavy-construction industry in the state of New Jersey basically dried up, and we were the only ones pushing work out at the time. “When you get contractors who are desperate for work, they really sharpen their pencils,” Raczynski said. “We’ve been averaging 20 percent below our estimates with the bids we’ve been getting. The actual project cost right now is lower than we anticipated.”

Left unsaid (why is it always left unsaid?) is that a big reason for the widening is the realignment of Interstate 95 along the far eastern portion to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the New Jersey Turnpike. That project, which dates back to the 1980s, continues to move along slowly. Steve Anderson of nycroads.com noted there was no apparent construction underway there yet.

So, the NJ Turnpike is going widen 35 miles of roadway — essentially a whole new road parallel to the existing one in 10 years. The PA Turnpike is taking over 30 to build an interchange and parallel crossing of the Delaware River. #NJFTW