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Have a Look at the Dead Sexy, Cotton & Reed opening Nov. 12th

by Prince Of Petworth — November 4, 2016 at 10:10 am 55 Comments


1330 5th Street, NE

I recognize that I’ve been saying dead sexy a lot but when I see something that is dead sexy I have no other way to describe it:

Photo by Farrah Skeiky

Right? I was very lucky to get an early look last night. It’s located in the strip of warehouses right across the street from the main Union Market complex. Hard to believe this is behind those front doors:

Photo by Farrah Skeiky

From a fact sheet:

Cotton & Reed combines the first and last names of co-owners Reed Walker and Jordan Cotton, formerly consultants to NASA and the space industry.

Opening date
: Saturday, November 12th, 12:00 p.m.
Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 4:00 p.m. to midnight Saturday & Sunday, noon to midnight
Reservations: No reservations are taken for cocktail bar hours, but distillery tours and private events can be reserved by contacting [email protected]
Owners: Jordan Cotton & Reed Walker
Distiller: Chas Jefferson
Engineer: Dr. Jen Phelps
Herbalist and Cocktail Specialist: Lukas B. Smith [Ed. Note: This guy is the man!]

Cotton & Reed is DC’s only distillery and bar for rum nerds. The distillery was started by former consultants to NASA and the space industry and is staffed by DC’s most technically-minded drink talents. Cotton & Reed balances unusual molasses and sugar varieties, rare botanicals, and distinctive yeast strains give our rums the depth to punch up any cocktail.

More info and photos after the jump.

Starting with white and dry spiced rums, Cotton & Reed is bringing something truly new to your shelf. Our spirits are best experienced in cocktails. The bar and tasting room is helmed by Lukas B. Smith, one of DC’s most inventive bartenders. Draft cocktails, house sodas on the gun, and limited release spirits available only on-site make the bar in Cotton & Reed’s historic warehouse next to Union Market a destination worth seeking out.

Launch Products:

White Rum : A complex cocktail spirit that brings cane’s inherent flavor into focus. Belgian saison yeast and wild Pineapple yeast turn our unusual blend of Louisiana sugars into a cane spirit with personality.

Dry Spiced Rum : A re-imagination of an often ignored spirit. Unusual ingredients lend depth of flavor far beyond the expected baking spices, and a stingy use of sugar brings maturity to this worthy cocktail ingredient and shot.

Price range (bottles): White Rum $30
Dry Spiced Rum: $35
Price range (cocktails): $10 to $14 for cocktails $5 1oz. shot
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Square feet: Tasting room: 750 Distillery: 2500
Capacity: 61
Architects: CORE”

Photo by Farrah Skeiky
Photo by Farrah Skeiky

The Liquid Nostalgia was my favorite.  I tried four of them.  Yes I’m struggling right now. But it was well worth it!



  • D

    Very excited to visit and grab a few bottles.

  • Comment Artist

    Tell me, does a singular interior design firm have a near monopoly in DC, or is this style just so popular that it’s become ubiquitous? Because I swear, the last ten new restaurants I’ve been to in DC are practically indistinguishable from this one. I’m not saying it looks bad, it just looks like almost every other place.

    • Anon

      Someone published an article not too long ago about the ubiquity of the “rustic hipster” fad in most new developments. I personally like it, but I guess older folks see little reason to start barking up random trees. What’s wrong with repurposing old elements to bring them up to date with the new? I like feeling some sense of history, however feigned that pastiche may feel.

      • Anon

        Also, it’s not just DC, but basically all over the world. There’s no shortage of bars/restaurants in DC that have a more finished, polished look if that’s what you seek.

        • Comment Artist

          It’s less a matter of polished versus rustic, and more about lack of creativity/uniqueness to me. Then again, how often in DC do you see anybody getting away with breaking the mold in a creative sense?

          • Anon

            Like I said – this is happening ACROSS THE GLOBE. But sure, keep up the “DC is boring” trope. Do you also blame DC for other architectural/artistic trends you don’t personally like?

          • Comment Artist

            I get it. To you, a restaurant interior like the one above is wildly innovative and pushing the boundaries of taste and imagination. And that’s perfectly fine.

          • Anon

            Haha, are you really that dense? I just called this a pastiche…

          • Comment Artist

            You are way off in left field.

      • Rich

        A generational cliche is still a cliche. It will l;ook as silly as earth tones of the 70s and techno junk of the last decade in no time.

        • Anon

          I don’t think it will look any more silly in the future than it does now. And sure, you can call it a cliche, but are puppies also cliche? I guess I like some cliches more than others.

          • anon

            Puppies are young dogs.

      • Comment Artist

        And it has nothing to do with barking up random trees, it’s a matter of taste. Some people are clearly overjoyed with this current fad, while some of us simply have higher expectations, which clearly have to be tempered when we limit our scope to the DC area.

    • nope

      I think it has more to do with the style being very cost effective. If all you are doing is exposing the existing space, you basically only pay to clean and seal the surface rather than re-constructing a new wall / material. When the plants grow down that might look really exciting / different, but its probably a bitch to water them, hah. They seem to have some interesting stools.

      • Anon

        Yup! It’s a whole lot cheaper to strip down and ornament, rather than go all new from scratch.

    • maxwell smart

      It’s the “brooklyn” look – all this needs is some Edison Bulbs and the the look would be complete. It’s become the defacto aesthetic for bars and restaurants so much so that even places like Taco Bell and TGI Fridays are redesigning to have a similar look and feel. In 5-10 years we are going to look back and gawf at how dated these places look.

      • Anon

        It’s not just Brooklyn. See just about anywhere else with ample disposable income. Brooklyn is front and center just because much of it is relatively recently “revitalized” by folks opening new businesses with little cash to bejewel their new spaces. But seriously, when’s the last time you visited just about any major coastal city? It’s the same everywhere.

      • DM

        I’ll give a pass to this place because it’s in an *actual* warehouse. It’s not quite as silly as, say, that perfume shop in The Shay that I always glare at when I walk by. That, to paraphrase Dolly Parton, spent a lot of money to look that cheap.
        But yes, it will look hideous in 10 years. Like those mid-2000s Logan Circle apartment buildings with concrete ceilings and exposed ductwork that look incredibly dated to me nowadays.

    • anon

      @Comment Artist: Seriously? Send pictures or at least names because I don’t believe there are 10 warehouses in DC in which to put those restaurants you visited. I think the large window/skylights and industrial shelving are unique.

      • wdc

        No joke, when I glanced at the pictures, I thought this was the Dabney.

        • Anon

          Or any place in the Atlantic Building. You can argue minor details all day long (and yes, details are important), but the “rustic industrial” pastiche is very much such courant all over.

          • Anon

            au courant

  • Caller James

    I live in Brooklyn. What’s the “Brooklyn” look?

    Fwiw, the names sound privileged af.

    • northeazy

      You live in BK but troll a DC blog? Uh huh. Cool bro, where you from originally? Iowa? Kansas? If you have even been to BK (or just read the comments here) you would know the implication of “the Brooklyn look.” As was previously said, it is the “rustic hipster” look aptly described as “relatively recently “revitalized” by folks opening new businesses with little cash to bejewel their new spaces.”

      But you live in BK man–so like, you know what Bushwick or BedSty looks like, right man? Have you ever ventured out of Williamsburg? Or just seen it in movies?

      • Anon

        Wow, that’s awkwardly aggressive. You need a hug bud?

        • northeazy

          haha, no, I just get perturbed when people talk like they know all about New York but it is so patently obvious they do not know what they are talking about. I am, as you may have guessed, a former New Yorker. One of the biggest differences I noticed about DC and NY, despite both being chock full of transplants, is that no transplant in DC ever claims they are Washingtonian. It is always “I am from Kentucky originally” or “I moved here in 2004.” I swear to God, I met so many people when I lived in NY who moved to BK or Manhattan like a year prior and were repping NYC so hard like they were born and bred there.

          • Anon

            “I am, as you may have guessed, a former New Yorker.”
            Haha, in that case: “There’s no flag on the play. Play ball.” 🙂

  • Visually, is fine. But acoustically, all those hard surfaces throw echos everywhere, and make it hard, usually, to have a conversation, heart music, etc.

    • hear or heart, i guess.

    • Anon

      Yes, and that’s often by design as well. Places where sound carries easily create a more lively scene. These places aren’t targeting those with age-related hearing loss. There are plenty of places in DC to have a drink and share a measured conversation. This likely won’t be one.

      • I suggest a fine line separates lively from cacophonous.

        • Anon

          Oh, for sure! But as you mentioned, that line is mighty fine and awfully expensive to get right.

      • textdoc

        “Places where sound carries easily create a more lively scene.” Yes, that’s the theory/perception on the part of the designers, and perhaps the owners/management… but I suspect their customer base doesn’t entirely agree. You don’t have to have age-related hearing loss or be an old curmudgeon to find it frustrating when you’re in a restaurant or bar and can’t carry on a conversation because there’s too much background noise.
        I liked the food at Oya (R.I.P.), but rarely went there because it was hard to carry on a conversation even just across a two-person table, let alone anything larger. And for a LONG time I avoided Looking Glass Lounge because I went there for dinner with a friend (at a typical dinner hour) and we couldn’t hear each other over the music.

        • Grant Circle

          I’ve been there a couple of times for cocktails now. I don’t hear particularly well in areas that have lots of ambient noise like bars and restaurants, but I haven’t noticed it as much here.

          • textdoc

            Yeah, the music volume hasn’t been excessive when I’ve been back to LGL more recently. But that one really bad experience kept me away for a long time.

          • Grant Circle

            Cotton & Reed that is, not LGL.

          • textdoc

            Ah, I see.
            If Cotton & Reed hasn’t actually opened, though, it seems like it’d be hard to tell whether the sound levels you experienced would’ve been representative of what it’ll be like once it opens for real.
            Still, good to know that maybe the noise problem isn’t as bad as the photos would suggest.

          • sound

            Looking Glass had their sound system redone by a professional within the last yearish so I think you are probably seeing the benefits of that.

          • sound

            or “hearing” the benefits- doh.

        • Anon

          It’s not just age-related hearing loss, but also the social outset of its patrons. I’m willing to wager that extroverts spend more at bars than intraverts (all else being equal). As such, it makes sense that bars would cater to a more profitable demographic.

  • Rich

    Looks like 100 other places and has one of those silly “two nouns with an “&'” names. Yawn.

    • AMDCer

      Agreed, though in this case the name is actually the names of the owners…they just also happen to be nouns with separate meanings as well!

  • Jesse

    Will they serve food? Will they at least do freeze dried finger foods?

  • jenster8dc

    Man. This a new distillery and cool cocktail bar started by two guys from NASA — NASA! — and all you guys can do is bitch about the decor and the fact that there’s an ampersand in the name?
    I will make a special trip over there to drink their cool space cocktails. Y’all can just stay home and grumble about hipsters.

    • Mike

      Nothing to add really, just a fan of jenster8dc’s comment. Carry on and a Happy Friday to all.

    • skj84

      I for one can’t wait to taste the space cocktails! I’m always excited for local businesses, and hope they succeed.

    • Anon

      Hey Cotton! Hey Reed! Please do a “Space Balls” themed night?

      • palisades

        May the Schwartz be with you

    • AJSE

      This was my thought too! Two NASA contractors start a bar…now there’s real DC for you. 🙂

      • Anon

        It’d be even more DC if they admitted their past allegiance to Northrop/Booz/Leidos.

    • Anon H St.

      +1. Place looks hot! Haters to the left.

    • maxwell smart

      what exactly makes these “space cocktails?”

      • jenster8dc

        Space booze.

    • Steve

      Most of the NASA contractors I know push paper as accountants or IT support

  • stacksp

    Ill go by after work one day to have a cocktail on the way home and see what they are all about.


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