Over the past six months, Green Hat gin has gone from a novelty produced by D.C.'s first distillery since Prohibition to a frequent ingredient at local cocktail bars. Now, New Columbia Distillers is set to unveil its first seasonal Green Hat gin on Saturday, just in time for sipping on lazy 80-degree days.
There have been test bottles of "Spring/Summer 2013" floating around D.C. cocktail bars, and I tried it over the weekend at the Gin Joint at New Heights. I thought the newcomer had a lovely sweet floral flavor, with a bit of mango coming through over the blood orange and grapefruit citrus. It seems like the perfect base for a gin rickey, though it includes one ingredient I wouldn't have guessed: fresh cherry blossoms.
"This is D.C.," explains co-owner and distiller John Uselton. "If you're making a spring gin and you want floral notes, you have to use cherry blossoms." Other ingredients include rose hips, clover and three different kinds of citrus peel.
The new gin will be available for sampling during the Ivy City distillery's weekly Saturday hours, which run from 1 to 4 p.m. and include tours and an information session about how gin is made. Bottles will be on sale for $34 each, the same price as the original Green Hat. Don't wait long to try it, though, as only 70 cases have been produced.
(If you'd like to taste more than just the gin, New Heights chef Takeshi Nishikawa is preparing a special four-course meal with gin-and-tonic pairings at the distillery on Sunday night. Call 202-234-4110 for reservations or more information.)
While the spring/summer gin won't hit bars and stores until next week, Uselton says work has already started on the fall/winter seasonal gin, because it will be barrel aged for somewhere between three and six months. "We'll see how it goes," he laughs.
Once the barrels are empty, they'll stay in D.C. Uselton says they'll be sent to the forthcoming Right Proper Brew Pub, where brewer Nathan Zeender will use them to age beer. By that time, of course, we'll be speculating about the ingredients in the next Green Hat seasonal gin.