Made by Hand: Green Hat's John Uselton shows off his gin delivery vehicle

 New Columbia Distillers founders John Uselton (left) and Michael Lowe (right) in their Ivy City Distillery

New Columbia Distillers founders John Uselton (left) and Michael Lowe (right) in their Ivy City Distillery

As the son of an airplane mechanic, John Uselton has always been interested in working with his hands. Shop class was his favorite subject in school. His first car was a VW bug that came with the engine in four cardboard boxes.

After doing everything from working on Navy submarines to wearing every hat in the restaurant business, John opened New Columbia Distillers with Michael Lowe in 2012. 

 These German made tanks are constructed of copper and stainless steel. 

These German made tanks are constructed of copper and stainless steel. 

 Grains are sourced from local Virginia farms. 

Grains are sourced from local Virginia farms. 

 Kevin samples their winter gin: Green Hat Ginavit

Kevin samples their winter gin: Green Hat Ginavit

Their signature product, Green Hat Gin, is named after George Cassiday, the green hat clad bootlegger that supplied booze to the House and Senate during prohibition. Today, John lives just across the street from the Cassiday’s residence in Capitol Hill, where he (Cassiday, that is) ran his bootlegging operation. In a nod to history, the first case of Green Hat Gin was given to Cassiday descendants who live in Virginia. 

 During the third distillation, the gin is around 130 proof. It then rests for two weeks, where the flavors of the aromatic herbs and seeds mix together. 

During the third distillation, the gin is around 130 proof. It then rests for two weeks, where the flavors of the aromatic herbs and seeds mix together. 

John rode mountain bikes while living in Texas, but when he moved to Boston he didn’t find much time to ride and made the most of public transit to get around. Upon moving to Clarendon, he became frustrated with his long commute to Adams Morgan and inconsistent train schedules. While walking back from the July 4th fireworks with his wife, he spotted an old Raleigh in a dumpster. He brought it home and fixed it up himself and knew right away this was his favorite way of getting around town. 

 

 A.N.T Boston Roadster featuring handmade frame and racks. John often delivers small orders to bars and restaurant by bike.  

A.N.T Boston Roadster featuring handmade frame and racks. John often delivers small orders to bars and restaurant by bike.  

 A.N.T headbadge. Made of copper and steel, just like the distillery.

A.N.T headbadge. Made of copper and steel, just like the distillery.

Today, John rides every day to work in Ivy City on his A.N.T. Boston Roadster, a steel city bike handmade in Massachusetts. His is set up with a internal 7-speed alfine hub and dynamo lights that allow him to safely arrive at work in wee hours of the morning. John was attracted to the craftsmanship of this iconic framemaker. Much like the bike industry, the micro-distillery business is a labor of love, fueled by a passionate people that take pride in making things themselves. 

Interested in cycling and spirits? Check out our Brewing History Tour with local historian Garret Peck. 

Have you ever tried Green Hat Gin? What did you think?