Young and Hungry

New Columbia Distillers’ Green Hat Gin Begins Production This Month

New Columbia Distillers, the District's first distillery in about a century, is gearing up to begin production later this month. That means you could be drinking D.C.-made gin as soon as the end of August.

The first creation from New Columbia founders Michael Lowe and his son-in-law John Uselton will be called Green Hat Gin. The name comes from Prohibition-era bootlegger George Cassiday, who supplied members of Congress with illegal liquor between 1920 and 1930. Cassiday set up shop in the basement of the Senate's Cannon Building and later the Russell Building. He wore a green fedora and became know as "The Man in the Green Hat."

Cassiday was arrested in 1930 after a Senate employee set him up during a delivery of six bottles of gin to the Senators' parking lot. After spending 18 months in prison, Cassiday wrote a series of stories in the Washington Post under the pen name "Man in the Green Hat" describing his bootlegging escapades in Congress.

Uselton says Cassiday once lived across the street from where he now lives near Capitol Hill. He learned about the "Man in the Green Hat" from a book called Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren't by Garrett Peck.

New Columbia's Green Hat Gin will be crisp, "but with a little more body and a little more earthiness to it," says Uselton. He adds that the gin will have a citrus quality, but will not be "citrus dominant." Eventually, he and Lowe hope to introduce some seasonal gins. They'll also produce whiskey, but you'll have to wait until its aged three to five years to try it.

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  • Fred Cassiday

    Great job Jessica. My father would be proud of your article and the work done by WCP. Michael and John are to be lauded for their perseverance and dedication to establishing a local distillery. It is long overdue in our Nations Capital.

  • Pete

    Definitely love the name and story behind their first product. Hopefully it tastes as good in a Rickey.

  • AG

    I first met with them at the D.C. Council regarding this effort. Glad to see that they were successful.

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  • George Cassiday

    My brother Fred just sent me a 1st vat bottle of green hat gin. I think I'll save it and then drink some on my next visit to DC. Also noted that Uselton lives across street where Fred and I were born and grew up...303 17th St. S.E. Brings back fond memories. My dad George, Sr. was a wonderful man. Indeed, he got me my first summer job at DC dept. of highways by calling up Sen Johnnie McClellan who called in some favors, I reckon. Pop then had me deliver take a case of whiskey to the Senator at the Senate Office Building as thanks for the job. Guess things still work that way in DC.
    George L Cassiday (Jr)