Photos by Clarissa Villondo
Words by Kaylee Dugan
Green Hat might have been the first, but D.C. is slowly and surely cultivating a good collection of distilleries. Between One Eight, Republic Restoratives, and the soon to be open District Distilling, it’s getting much easier to stock your personal bar with nothing but D.C. produced liquor. Or at least it will be, once District Distilling is done making theirs. The bar and restaurant may be open this Friday, but the in house booze wont be ready until fall at the earliest. When they are finally available, you should be able to pick up a bottle of vodka, gin, white rum, and whiskey right on site. You’ll never really have to leave the neighborhood again.
But that doesn’t mean that liquor wont be flowing. There are plenty of good cocktails to satisfy you until their own booze is available. I started my night off with both of their starter cocktails, the Vicinage (Don Ciccio & Figli Cinque Aperitivo, Lillet Blanc, Thyme, St. Vincent Brut Champanoise) and the Quiote (Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Green Chartruese, Schilling & Co. Grapefruit Cider). Both were refreshing ways to wake up the palate, the Vicinage leaning more to the bitter side of the scale, while the Quiote leaned toward the sweet with the help of that grapefruit cider.
The standout, the cocktail I’ll be coming back to get, is the Tradition. Made with Voyager Dry Gin, lime, egg white, black lava salt, and garnished with a cucumber it is a lovely mixture of sweet, salt, and sour. The egg whites give it a lovely velvety texture and the entire flavor profile is very reminiscent of a Pisco Sour. If you’re not wild about gin, this is a great cocktail to start off your wild gin adventure. The floral, Christmas tree, smell and taste that usually puts people off the spirit is mellowed by lime and salt. It’s damn good. I want one right now.
There’s also the Singe and Thumper if you’re into spicy and sweet drinks respectively. The Singe is a spice infused tiki drink with Goslings, Mezcal, pineapple Serrano syrup, and more, while the Thumper includes vodka, rooibos tea, and Leopold Bros Rocky Mountain Blackberry.
Now, guys, I have to talk to you about the food. Because it’s so damn good. We started with the grilled romaine Caesar with white anchovy and ancho chili sourdough and the sauteed rock shrimp, which comes with crispy potato straws and hen yolk. Both dishes are crisp and clean and a delightful. These are great appetizers for when you want to have some real food, but don’t want to get bowled over by something overly greasy or heavy.
If you’re looking for something more substantial, you need to get the grilled rockfish. It comes with a smoked bluefish cake, cherry tomatoes, and a sweet corn butter sauce and it is out of this world. Maybe it’s because I’m grasping at the edges of summer (and this is very much a summery meal), but this truly hit the spot. We also tried the crispy suckling pig, which was very good with Hatch red chile, kidney beans, and Carolina Gold rice, but the rockfish was the true standout. I’m still thinking about it. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Whether you’re looking for booze or food, District Distillery is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and I can’t wait until I can take a bottle home.
District Distilling is at 1414 U Street NW. Bar hours are 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday – Thursday, 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday. Kitchen hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday – Saturday, and 4 p.m – 11 p.m. on Sunday.