L’Heure de l’Apéritif – Green Hat Gin

Feels like I haven’t done a cocktail post in ages… probably because that’s the case. But last Saturday, after the Shortcut to Europe Embassies Open House event, I was inspired to branch out of my usual French wine and try something a little more “exotic.” Like Bulgarian wine. Well, wouldn’t you know, it is not easy to find Bulgarian wine in D.C.! But what I did find while I hopped from liquor store to liquor store, was a bottle of limited release seasonal Green Hat Gin. Probably a better choice than Bulgarian wine anyway 😉

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I visited D.C.’s first legal distillery since prohibition back on November 24, 2012 during American Express’ Small Business Saturday promotion. John Uselton, who runs the New Columbia Distillery with his father-in-law Michael Lowe, led the tour. The small-batch gin is crafted locally in a 3,500-square-foot warehouse in NorthEast D.C. It’s not that big so the tour doesn’t take took long and goes over the whole production process, starting with a quick overview of the botanicals and herbs that give Green Hat Gin its signature scent and flavour (the celery is strong in that one…) all the way to the bottling process. On Saturday afternoons, you’ll typically find a group of lucky volunteers working away, closing bottles and labeling them. I say lucky because I’ve been trying to get into their “bottling parties” for months now… Le sigh.

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A few weeks ago, New Columbia Distillery release a seasonal, limited edition spring/summer gin with cherry blossoms, citrus peels and cubeb pepper giving it a more citrusy and floral taste. John Uselton  recommends that the seasonal gin be used in a simple Rickey or in a Southside so that is exactly what I did. I tried a few different version of the Southside, with lime and lemon, with bitters and without and the version below was my favourite. The Southside is a very simple cocktail, almost like a gin-mojito. Start with a few mint leaves (5-10 depending on their size) muddled in a shaker. Next, add 3/4 oz of simple syrup (simple syrup = 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water boiled together in a saucepan. Once cooled it can be used in all sorts of cocktails as well as refrigerated for about 3 weeks), 3/4 oz lime juice and 2 oz of Green Hat seasonal gin. Top it with some ice and shake. Add a few drops of Peychaud’s bitters and shake again before straining into a cocktail glass with a few ice cubes and some decorative sprigs of mint.

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For more Spring/Summer Green Hat cocktail inspiration, head to Boundary Road on H Street NE next Thursday (May, 23rd starting at 5PM). Green Hat Gin is hosting a cocktail night with a bevy of Green Hat Gin Seasonal Release cocktails.

New Columbia Distillery is locally at 1832 Fenwick Street, NE. It’s open for tastings and tours Saturday afternoons from 1 to 4pm.

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