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A D.C. Distiller Starts Delivering Vodka With a Side of Its Own Hand Cleaner

Republic Restoratives is meeting demand for spirits during the coronavirus pandemic

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Republic Restoratives sends latex glove-wearing employees to drop off shipments of spirits.
Republic Restoratives sends latex glove-wearing employees to drop off shipments of spirits.
Republic Restoratives/official photo
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Local D.C. distiller Republic Restoratives has had a license to make at-home deliveries from its Ivy City facility for a few years, but the woman-owned company only started rolling out the service this week. Demand for door-to-door liquor sales is spiking now that much of the city is stuck at home to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

CEO Pia Carusone says that in the past three days, 328 online orders for bottles have come in from all eight of the city’s wards. Civic Vodka has made up about half of them, along with “a lot” of Borough Bourbon and the balance of its Chapmans Apple Brandy and Rodham Rye.

“It’s great to have while 100-percent of our other business has vanished,” says Carusone, whose tasting room and tours are currently off-limits to the public as part of the city’s emergency gathering restrictions.

In NYC, where bars are also dark, liquor delivery apps Drizly and Minibar are seeing crazy surges in orders. D.C. cidery ANXO unveiled a contactless pick-up option at its two D.C. locations (Truxton Circle, Brightwood Park tasting room) starting this week.

Those outside of D.C. proper can pull up to the Ivy City distillery to grab to-go bags of hard booze. Same day and next day delivery options are available.
Republic Restoratives/official photo
Hundreds of newly bottled hand sanitizers by Republic Restoratives.
Republic Restoratives/official photo

Each Republic Restoratives order comes with an in-demand perk: a bottle of free hand cleaner made at the distillery.

Last week, Republic Restorative became the first D.C. distiller to start making the germ-battling commodity that’s in short supply from coast to coast. The company followed guidelines from the World Health Organization to create the high proof substance mixed with vegetable glycerine, distilled water, and hydrogen peroxide. Carusone ordered a couple hundred 2-ounce bottles, the bulk of which arrived on Wednesday.

Carusone has shied away from packaging commercial-sized tubs of the stuff, but she’s happy to hand out pocket-sized portions to those in need.

Northern Virginia’s Catoctin Creek is also offering free sanitizing scrub, prioritizing first responders and hospitals. Everyone else has to bring their own container and abide by a 2-liter max (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays). The Purcellville-based distiller plans to start manufacturing it for wider distribution soon.

Back in the District, Republic Restoratives is providing another public service this week. With a barroom ban is in effect, the distiller is going to stream a cocktail expert into peoples’ homes. On Friday at 6 p.m., Pom Pom and Dos Mamis co-owner Carlie Steiner will teach a cocktail class on the distillery’s Instagram and Facebook live feeds. It could turn into a weekly appointment.

The class is free, but RR asks viewers to donate to Steiner’s staff, who are out of work, via Venmo @pompomstaff.

More area bartenders are turning to the web to recreate the bar scene at home, and share their stories.

McClellan’s Retreat bar man Brian Nixon started streaming an educational series last night, walking viewers through how to stir its Belmont rye-and-amaro cocktail.

Nonprofit Restaurant Workers of America is posting coast-to-coast bartender clips on coronavirus uncertainty. Andrew Shapiro, who was just laid off at Alexandria’s months-old Taqueria Picoso, tells his story here.