At 6pm on a chilly Friday evening earlier this month, eight adventurous local foodies wandered into New Columbia Distillers‘ Ivy City location to help bottle the latest batch of Green Hat gin. As I hung my coat on the rack, Ian and Travers handed me my first gin & tonic. I could tell it was going to be a good night. Travers welcomed the group, got us signed in, and as we sipped on our cocktails (the first step in the process) he explained how to affix the labels onto bottles (the second step of the bottling process)….
After quite a few cases of bottles were labeled, it was time to explain the various stations.
Though step three of the process was pretty fun — blowing out the bottles with an air blaster to remove any cardboard residue from the boxes — my favorite part was step four: filling bottles using the gin udder. I am clearly not the only one who loved this part:
Every few cases, members of the group rotated through the next few stations: capping, adding the top label, recording the batch and alcohol level, heat sealing, and boxing.
It was hard work, but fun… and Ian made sure we didn’t go thirsty in the process, bringing around various batches of cocktails made with their in-house stock of gin, rye whiskey, and other tasty ingredients. You can’t label things correctly if you’re parched!
Our evening ended with a tasting and tour of the facility. We learned about the history of bootlegging in DC, the true story of The Man in the Green Hat after which the distillery is named, the challenges of local grain sourcing (and ultimate success finding local farm. And of course we learned about the gin making process: make beer -> turn it into vodka -> add botanicals to make it gin! Who knew? I do now. And had a chance to sample all of Green Hat’s offerings and purchase them at wholesale prices. Not a bad way to knock out some holiday shopping and support a local business, eh?
You have to be in the know to help at the small-group bottling parties, but you can stop by your local liquor store (or a number of farmers markets around town) to pick up a bottle. Or better yet, swing by the Green Hat bar in Ivy City:
- Free Tours Saturday only at 1:30, 3:00 & 4:30pm
- Cocktail Bar & Gin Garden Saturdays 1-8pm, Sunday 2-6pm
- No Reservations Required