WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ever since I learned that a distillery was coming to The District, I knew I wanted to visit it sometime. In March, I finally made the trip to New Columbia Distillery, makers of Green Hat gin, so named for the head-wear of a Capitol Hill bootlegger named George Cassiday.
The Ivy City location is on a narrow street across from a large parking lot for heavy vehicles. Inside, it’s perhaps 120′ x 40′ feet after crossing through the initial entry area. We weren’t carded. The stills are impressive in a steam punk kind of way. After an introduction to the legend of the man in the green hat (he eventually had to serve 6 months of an 18 month sentence, yet got to walk home at night — very Werthian), our guide explained that the grain was from Virginia’s Northern Neck – red winter wheat. The process was explained by the co-founder Michael Loew. It was a bit hard to hear him with dozens of people in the same space and music playing.
Three varieties of gin are currently available: Green Hat, Ginavet and the new Navy Strength. The each have a variety of botanicals. My favorite was the Green Hat, followed by the Ginavet and then Navy Strength. I left with a bottle of Green Hat as well which despite the name, is gray on the bottle and the onesie I bought for my baby boy. I’ve tried Green Hat in a gin and tonic, but I believe it would be better in a martini. The Ginavit would likely be good in a martini as well.
Many years from now, the rye will be ready, but sooner than that, they are working on some apple brandy.
New Columbia is open 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays. It’s served by bus routes D3, D4, E2 and I recommend that or some other form of designated driver. It’s just a short walk from the next destination, Atlas Brew Works too.