Explore Washington D.C.

Hometown Spirit: A Washington, D.C., Distillery

Inspired by a Prohibition-era bootlegger's chapeau, New Columbia's "Green Hat" gin has become the boutique drink of choice

D.C. has its official cocktail—the refreshing gin rickey—and now its own version of the main ingredient, crafted at the city’s first microdistillery.

Opened in October 2012, New Columbia Distillers already sends its Green Hat gin out to 170-plus retailers, bars and restaurants. With a custom-made copper still, owners Michael Lowe and John Uselton coax the elixir from soft red winter wheat grown in Virginia’s Northern Neck.

Botanicals dangling inside the still’s “helmet” impart flavors to the classic version (think juniper, coriander, celery and citrus) and limited-edition seasonals. The spring/summer batch featured cherry blossom “notes,” while the fall/winter achieves an earthy mellowness from barrel aging.

The quirky name toasts a Prohibition-era bootlegger known for his green felt hat. His clientele? Thirsty lawmakers on Capitol Hill.