When Don Ciccio & Figli owner Francesco Amodeo began distilling his Italian-inspired liqueurs in 2012, he wasn’t legally allowed to offer tastes of his amaros or cordials on-site. The DC distilling scene and the laws surrounding it have transformed significantly in the years since. At his new Ivy City facility (opening to the public by the end of the month), Amodeo is looking to create a drinking destination with a tasting room and bar for visitors to try his products in spritzes and negronis.
The new distillery is double the size of the previous Manor Park one, which will eventually allow Amodeo to expand production from around 25,000 cases a year to four times that quantity. He’s already distributing across 45 states (and the District, of course) plus in a few international markets. In the coming year, he’ll begin selling his liqueurs across Europe, including at alcohol-serving Starbucks in Milan, Italy.
After getting a tour of the production facility, visitors will head to a tasting bar where they can sample all 14 of Don Cicco’s liqueurs for free. The cordials and amaros are all based on recipes from Amodeo’s family in the Amalfi Coast.
If you want to then try the products in a cocktail, head to the 25-seat Bar Sirenis in a separate room. The name comes from the mermaids that, legend has it, can be spotted off the Amalfi Coast. “Also because when I first met my wife, and I saw her from afar, she looked like a mermaid because she had very long and curly hair,” Amodeo says. Mermaid imagery is incorporated into the Mediterranean blue decor with door handles and shelf brackets. (Side note: don’t miss the bathrooms, which will have standup comedians playing from speakers.)
One section of the cocktail menu focuses on classics—negronis, spritzes, and Americanos—which you can try with any of the bitter liqueurs. Another section highlights cocktails that utilize the sweeter cordials, such as a rye drink with fennel liqueur or mix of mandarin liqueur, vodka, lemon, and vermouth. Cocktails range from $9 to $14, but if you spend $50 on bottles, you’ll get a token for $5 off at the bar. The distillery bar won’t sell any snacks, but food trucks will often park outside and drinkers are welcome to bring their own food.
Amodeo, a longtime bartender, also plans to use the space for cocktail classes and private events. (They already have a wedding scheduled in the space.) A loading area will turn into a lounge in the summertime.
“What we’re really trying to create is the aperitivo bar,” Amodeo says. “This is going to be an every day hangout.”
Don Ciccio & Figli. 1907 Fairview Ave., NE. Open Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 11 PM and Saturday from 1 to 11 PM.
Correction: The previous distillery was located in Manor Park, not Ivy city.