Four years in the making, the two-story District Distilling Co. finally debuts tonight on U Street. Its stunning design was unveiled earlier this week, and the menu is also extensive.
The plan is for the place to start selling its own booze created on the first level in the coming months. But for now, drinks will showcase American small batch distilling from other locations. Its classy 140-seat restaurant and bar upstairs boasts a lengthy cocktail menu that's split up into categories like starters (like the Vicinage made with D.C.'s Don Ciccio & Figli Cinque Aperitio), signature, and classic—and a unique "shift punch" draft cocktail comprised of a liquor, amaro or liqueur, and bitters that can be shot or shared out of a carafe (priced $40-$86). At a media preview event, general manager Said Haddad described it as an alternative to bottle service — without the whole clubbing part. The bar is big on Green Chartreuse, and it makes several appearances on the cocktail menu.
Manning the kitchen is executive chef Justin Bittner (of Bar Pilar and 8407 Kitchen Bar fame). Expect a wide lineup of upscale seasonal American fare, including sauteed rock shrimp to start ($14), grilled rockfish with summer corn ($25) for the main event, and a creme brulee donut ($6) for dessert. Dinner and a late night menu (perfect for post-partying patrons on U Street) runs seven days a week, with weekend brunch coming soon.
District Distilling Co., 1414 U St. NW, website