DC’s Newest Distillery Opens This Weekend: Republic Restoratives

Republic Restoratives Distillery opened in Ivy City in May with local vodka and a cocktail bar. Photograph courtesy of Republic Restoratives.

Though Ivy City is home to several distilleries, Republic Restoratives will bring many new elements to the neighborhood when it launches this Sunday. The 7,000 square-foot operation is the only DC facility of its kind owned and operated exclusively by women— Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner—and is the largest crowd-funded distillery in the world, according to Carusone. A 30-day Indiegogo campaign helped launch the business, earning over $119,500—mostly small donations, well over the initial $75,000 goal.

“ We’ve asked for a lot of help, and needed a lot of help, and we’ve been pleasantly overwhelmed by the community,” says Carusone.

Republic Restoratives will eventually produce aged whiskey, but the first release from master distiller Rusty Figgins is the Civic Vodka. Made exclusively with American corn, the liquor is charcoal-polished–a filtration method intended to produce a crisp, clean taste. Barman David Strauss, formerly of the Sheppard and Le Diplomate (among others) helms the cocktail bar inside the distillery, and will mix drinks such as Moscow mules fashioned with homemade ginger extract, or a riff on a screwdriver (a.k.a. vodka-OJ) with sparkling wine and fresh herbs.

In addition to vodka, the distillery will produce liqueurs, and hopes to release their first whiskey after it’s aged 18 months. In the meantime, Carusone says they’ve sourced a four year-old Kentucky bourbon that they plan to finish in casks at the distillery; the type of barrel has yet to be determined. New distilleries, including neighbors like Jos A. Magnus and One Eight Distilling, adopt various practices for producing whiskey before their own product has time to mature—flavoring and aging “sourced” whiskey in barrels such as sherry or coffee, like they do at One Eight, is a popular method.

“We’re very transparent about the fact that the bourbon we sourced from a different distillery,” says Carusone.

The distillery launch party is open to the public (register here), and goes down on Sunday from 11 to 3 with the help of Union Kitchen neighbors like Mason Dixie Biscuit Company–because biscuits and blood Marys are a perfect pairing. Anyone looking to pick up a bottle of the new vodka ($29) can buy it on premises, or in local liquor stores like Cordial in Union Market, Calvert Woodley, and more.

Republic Restoratives Distillery. 1369 New York Ave., NE. Cocktail bar open Thursday through Sunday, 5 to midnight. Distillery tours available on Saturday and Sunday starting at 11 am.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.