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D-I-Y Sabado Gigante: A Spirited Afternoon in Ivy City

Assuming you’ve already gotten some tasty food in your belly and are ready to tackle Saturday proper the next logical question is “What’s for lunch?” The password is: cocktails. At least that might be the password if the ready-to-rock Jos. A. Magnus & Co. distillery adhered to such nonsense. Senate aide cum Pork Barrel BBQ co-founder Brett Thompson told HOH his latest project, which is poised to debut on Aug. 22 at 1 p.m., is all about honoring 19th century spirits-slinger Joseph Magnus. (Courtesy Jos. A. Magnus & Co.) “Our journey over the last two years has been about bringing his pre-Prohibition heritage here to D.C.,” Thompson said, noting that the one-time booze maker used to ply his trade at a spot along Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Today, the FBI headquarters occupies the same space. Thompson said he was drawn into the fold by Magnus’ great-grandson Jimmy Turner, who assembled a group of experts to assist him in resurrecting the family business. That dream team includes: Turner. Thompson: “I figured the only thing more American than cooking BBQ was making great bourbon!” he said of the intoxicating challenge. Ryan Meyers, aide to former Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and now counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Jesse Appleton, aide to former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and Treasury alumnus. Nicole Hassoun, award-winning Gin Joint alumnae and founder of Chronic Tonic. Dave Scheurich, award-winning distiller and Woodford Reserve alumnus. Nancy “the Nose” Fraley, research director at the American Distilling Institute. Richard Wolf, former Chairman of the Kentucky Distillers Association and Buffalo Trace alumnus. Per Thompson, the state-of-the-art facility (2052 West Virginia Ave. NE #202) — which Scheurich designed — boasts an 800-gallon bourbon still and 450-liter gin still. “We’ll be the biggest distillery in D.C.,” he asserted. But what’s work without a little play? That’s where the dedicated tasting room comes in. The Murray Hill Club, named after one of Magnus’ signature whiskeys, has been carved out to provide visitors with a taste of everything going on inside. "The Murray Hill Club is for people who want to experience a cocktail journey and I'm looking forward to bringing that experimental approach to cocktails here to DC," Hassoun said in an official release. Thompson couldn’t help but court Hillites, suggesting, “It’ll be a great place to spend some time and solve bipartisan problems.” The game plan is to start out with just gin drinks (expect to see Hassoun’s artisan mixers in play) for the first few weeks. Bourbon should be phased in by the time the grand opening rolls in on Sep. 12. The way Thompson sees it, Hassoun has carte blanche to work her magic any way she sees fit. “It really is going to be whatever Nicole dreams up that day,” Thompson predicted of the cocktail offerings. The tasting room will initially open Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 9 p.m., with Sunday service projected to follow shortly thereafter. Those who tend to crave a little nosh while bending the elbow should sit tight. Thompson said the group is reaching out to select D.C. restaurants about potential partnership opportunities. He declined to mention who the front runners might be, but left the door open to working Pork Barrel’s brand of smoky treats into the mix. “The barbecue smoker travels quite well,” he said. Meanwhile, Team Magnus appears to already be in the giving spirit. When HOH inquired what might become of the spent bourbon barrels, Thompson hinted that the cast offs could find new homes right downstairs. “We are in the same building as Atlas Brew Works. It seems like a good place for some of those barrels to end up,” he estimated. Related: D-I-Y Sabado Gigante: Break Fast, Texan-Style Rolling with the DC Brew Crew Ginning Up Good Cheers See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.