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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