Four years in the making, the two-story District Distilling Co. finally debuted on U Street late last month. Along with a stunning design and extensive menu, the plan is for them to start selling its own booze created on the first level soon. For now, drinks showcase American small batch distilling from other locations, and its classy 140-seat restaurant and bar upstairs boasts a lengthy cocktail menu.
Manning the kitchen is executive chef Justin Bittner (of Bar Pilar and 8407 Kitchen Bar fame), serving up a wide lineup of upscale seasonal American fare.
There are clearly lots of moving parts in the 8,000-square-foot space, leaving plenty of room for critics to chime in. Read on to hear what people are saying about the setup so far:
The One-Stop-Shop News: Amidst a sea of trendy, conceptual concepts on 14th and U, Yelper Farah C. thinks District Distilling delivers on both the food and beverage fronts: "Beyond the chic interior is a knowledgeable, friendly staff, delicious beverages, and an inspired menu." And Facebooker Kendra Littner sums up its perks by writing, "Gorgeous space and some of the best drinks I've ever had. Take a tour and then eat at their restaurant upstairs. Right in the heart of the city on U and 14th," adding "two words: pecan pie." [Yelp, Facebook]
The Pretty Good News: Going Out Guide recently names District Distilling as one of seven new bars to try, complimenting the inside aesthetics: "The space itself, in rowhouses that formerly held Utopia and Coppi's, is attractive, with long drink rails on exposed brick walls and low semi-circular couches beneath bay windows." Prince of Petworth calls it "absolutely beautiful. Stunning. Dead sexy," and admits his pictures don’t do it justice. [WaPo, PoPVille]
The Best Is Yet To Come News: WaPo goes on to note, "If all goes well, District Distilling's vodka will be released in early October, with more to come after that. Until then, this is a beautiful bar and restaurant with above-average cocktails and food." And while Bittner is already using booze in dishes like a whiskey-rubbed smoked salmon and a bourbon pecan pie, Washingtonian says to "expect District Distilling’s own spirits to make a culinary appearance at some point." [Washington Post, Washingtonian]
The Latenight Craving News: Washingtonian points out it’s a respite for drinkers: "After 11 p.m., diners can indulge in gut-busters like smoked pork shoulder poutine with bourbon gravy, or the "Double D" burger with aged cheddar, hickory bacon, and onion jam. The kitchen won’t close until 1 hour before last call." [Washingtonian]
The What’s Unique News: WTOP says while D.C.’s newest distillery is filled with the "typical shiny pot stills, towering fermentation tanks and rows of oak barrels," one thing sets it apart from all others in the city: a kitchen. Another rare trait is its location, at the epicenter of a buzzing neighborhood of bars, music venues and restaurants. "D.C.’s other four distilleries are located in Ivy City, a warehouse-heavy neighborhood in Northeast. District Distilling is in the heart of the city’s U Street corridor." [WTOP]
The Standout Orders: Brightest Young Things plans to return for the Tradition cocktail with Voyager Dry Gin ("a lovely mixture of sweet, salt, and sour"), and as for appetizers, the grilled romaine Caesar and sauteed rock shrimp with crispy potato straws and hen yolk were both "crisp and clean and delightful." [BYT]