A Hidden Cocktail Room Opens in DC’s Newest Distillery

Veteran-run Bo & Ivy is making gin, vodka, and corn whiskey

Bo & Ivy's cocktail room overlooks its stills. Photograph courtesy Bo & Ivy.

A new distillery quietly took over the stills of Ivy City’s Jos. A. Magnus during the pandemic. Bo & Ivy, founded by three military veterans, has been producing vodka, gin, and a corn whiskey that you can find at a smattering of liquor stores, restaurants, and bars across DC and Northern Virginia. Now the operation is finally opening up to the public with a tucked-away cocktail room pouring affordable classics and riffs plus flights.

Co-founder Julia Fletcher grew up in West Virginia, where her family manufactured mining equipment. The GW alum was inspired to join the Navy after 9/11, returned to Georgetown for an MBA, then worked in defense contracting for several years. “In the end, I really just didn’t want to make PowerPoint, I wanted to make a real thing,” she says.

She’s partnered with her husband Michael Curcio, who recently retired from active duty in the Navy, and Vincent Bridgeman, a retired Marine who worked at the same defense contracting firm, to open the distillery. None of the founders have any background in the food and beverage world, but they’d built a relationship with the team of Jos. A. Magnus after Curcio made a private barrel there as a gift. When the facility came up for sale, they jumped. They named the the place after the B&O freight line—the distillery sit on a railroad easement—and the Ivy City neighborhood.

Bo & Ivy took over the lease in July of 2020—a real low point in the pandemic for many in the booze industry. “I think this is one of those things where ignorance breeds optimism,” Fletcher says. But amid the social distancing and closures, they recognized that people were more eager to come together than ever.

“Spirits continue to bring people together. Everybody can sit down and have a glass and have a conversation,” Fletcher says. “That was something that we felt like people were really missing at the time. So it was a point of hope to focus on.”

What the founders lack in experience they’ve tried to make up for with their team. “As a Navy officer, I could never be an expert in everything, and so I would go and find the technical experts to support us,” Fletcher says. Lead Distiller Harrison Scott, a former sommelier at Bresca, was trained by Jos. A. Magnus’s former head distiller as well as a consulting master distiller. Fellow Bo & Ivy distiller Zack Dratch previously worked at ChurchKey and Anxo Cidery.

Bo & Ivy produces gin, vodka, and corn whiskey, with a bourbon on the way. Photograph courtesy Bo & Ivy.

Bo & Ivy currently produces three spirits using grains from a farming collective in Virginia. (A two-year bourbon is coming next spring.) The dry gin is a “little more delicate than most other gins you encounter,” Fletcher says, with nine botanicals and notes of ginger on the finish. The corn whiskey has a “very funky corn eau de vie flavor” and can be subbed for rum and tequila in cocktails.  But the distillers are most proud of their vodka: “It is not the odorless, tasteless vodka that most people would come to expect. It does still have a hint of corn on the nose. It is sweet and very mouthy,” Fletcher says.

Sample them all at Bo & Ivy’s 28-seat cocktail room, which opened over the weekend. Bartender Jon Schott, who previously worked at Alexandria cocktail bars King’s Ransom and People’s Drug, serves up a rotating selection of drinks. Find the classics—a negroni, martinez, martini—plus twists like a paloma or jungle bird with corn whiskey. Everything is $11 to $12, and tasting flights with a trio of 3/4-ounce pours go for $10. Stay tuned for draft cocktails and a seasonal punch, plus tours and tastings down the line.

Bo & Ivy. 2052 West Virginia Ave., NE, Suite 202. Cocktail room open Thursday to Friday from 4 to 10 PM; Saturday from noon to 10 PM; Sunday from noon to 6 PM. 

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.