Welcome to Founding spirits
Know Your Farmer. Know Your Distiller.
The Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers family continues to expand, growing our love of handcrafted food and drink with our very own micro-batch distillery custom-built inside our restaurant, Farmers & Distillers. Led by a dynamic and adventurous duo, Jon Arroyo and Bob VanLancker, Founding Spirits is a rich and complex blend of our from-scratch, source-matters mission.
Together, Jon and Bob are cultivating unique and tasty spirits that reflect who we are, a group of culinarians celebrating what our farmers and land provide, while enjoying the fun of sharing it with our guests.
Our Founding Spirits — Vodka, American Whiskey, and Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro — are distilled and blended to preserve the true flavors that come from the wheat, barley, and rye. These flavorful spirits reveal the journey from the farmers who grow the grain to the gentlemen distilling it. We’re psyched to have our very own modern-day distilling wizards creating innovative spirits for enjoyment on their own, and deliciously showcased in our craft cocktails.
Founding Spirits distillery tours are available on Saturdays by reservation; walk-ins are accepted pending availability. Each tour accommodates up to eight guests and includes: six spirit tastings, a cocktail, and a few delicious bites.
So come on in, take a look, have a sip (or six) of our spirits, and snack on some yummy food while learning our approach to distilling.
Join us before or after your tour in the restaurant for brunch. Reservations are available here.
These guys are talented and skilled when it comes to all things liquid. Jon Arroyo has been directing bar & beverage offerings for our company, Farmers Restaurant Group, since the beginning. What began as an uncanny knack for craft cocktails quickly turned into an award-winning bar & beverage program, and from there he has evolved into making spirits. Bob VanLancker has been part of our bar team, working hand in hand with Jon, for many years creating and serving great drinks to the delight of our guests. His keen interest in cocktails and the difference that great spirits make was instrumental in our early distillery work. When planning Founding Spirits, Jon couldn’t think of a better person to bring into the mix.
Learn more about Jon
Learn more about Bob
Founding Spirits Vodka
Made with the purest ingredients in the heart of DC by Jon Arroyo and his team, we distill our vodka with the aristocrat of wheat, Dark Northern Spring, more commonly known as Hard Red Spring Wheat. Harvested on the Watne’s family farm in North Dakota, this specific grain is a trademark of excellence in the world of wheat due to its high-protein and high-quality. Mark, Michelle, and their family are fourth-generation wheat, corn, barley, and soybean farmers; while Mark also serves as president of the North Dakota Farmers Union. In addition to the ND wheat, the two other key components, rye and barley, are harvested by Billy Dawson’s Bay’s Best Feed in Heathsville, VA.
Find our vodka in these cocktails & many others at Farmers & Distillers:
Founding Spirits Vodka Infused with Clementine | Lime | Honey | Maraschino | Founding Spirits Clementine Bitters
Founding Spirits Vodka | Lemon Twist | Olive
Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro
Throughout his travels to South America and Europe, Jon Arroyo fell in love with digestifs and aperitifs. He made it his mission to bring the magic of the before and after dinner drink home to the U.S. While amaro can have an intimidating reputation of being too bitter, Jon and his team set out on a journey to make an approachable spirit that everyone can enjoy. Our amaro can only be described as delicious and “never bitter,” as the name suggests.
Find our Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro in these cocktails at Farmers & Distillers:
Founding Spirits Arroyo's "Never Bitter" Amaro | Founding Farmers Rye Whisky | Lime | Orgeat
Founding Spirits Arroyo's "Never Bitter" Amaro | Founding Farmers Gin | Campari | Lemon | Cinnamon
GW Limited Edition Founding Spirits “Never Bitter” Amaro
Our Founding Farmers DC restaurant helps fund the GW Undergraduate Honey Bee Research Laboratory & Apiary project working to protect honey bees and their role in the diversity of the world’s food supply and our ecosystem. Founding Spirits made this unique spirit in celebration of GW’s research, the miraculous honey bee, and the deliciousness that we get from their hives.
Honey from The George Washington University Apiary – located on a campus rooftop in downtown Washington, D.C. – sweetens this unique, inaugural batch of our award-winning, Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro.
Founding Spirits American Whiskey
All great things take time. We’ve been working on our handcrafted, true American Whiskey since we began our distilling adventures in 2009. Pot stilled and barrel aged for at least 18 months at Copper Fox Distillery – using our good friend and farmer, the late Billy Dawson’s Virginia-grown corn, wheat, barley, and oats – we proof, blend, and bottle it in-house at Founding Spirits. Our unique, small batch blend has a rich, smooth, and earthy taste that can be enjoyed many ways. We think you will agree, it was well worth the wait.
Find our Founding Spirits American Whiskey in these cocktails at Farmers & Distillers:
Founding Spirits American Whiskey | Mint | Founding Spirits Aromatic Bitters
"Never Bitter" Julep
Founding Spirits American Whiskey | Founding Spirits Arroyo's "Never Bitter" Amaro | Mint
Founding Farmers spirit project
The Founding Farmers Spirit Project is our collection of proprietary spirits crafted in partnership with Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, VA, and Macchu Pisco in Peru. Featuring Founding Farmers Rye Whisky, Founding Farmers Gin, and our unique Founding Farmers Pisco, all of our spirits are created specifically for our restaurants and our award-winning cocktail program. Some of our FF Spirit Project bottles are also available to purchase and enjoy at home.
Founding Farmers Rye Whisky
The first in The Founding Farmers Spirit Project proprietary line, Founding Farmers premium Rye Whisky has been behind our bar since its creation in 2009, and has since become a guest favorite. Founding Farmers Rye Whisky, created in partnership with FRG’s Managing Partner, Beverage & Distillery Jon Arroyo and Copper Fox Distillery’s Master Distiller Rick Wasmund, is made with smoked apple, cherrywood, and malted barley grown by farmer Billy Dawson’s Bay’s Best Feed in Heathsville, VA, just down the road from the distillery. Our top-rated, premium Rye Whisky is the perfect gift for rye whisky lovers.
Find our premium Rye Whisky in these cocktails & many others at any Farmers Restaurant Group restaurant:
Founding Farmers Rye Whisky | Citrus | Ginger | Bitters
Founding Farmers Rye Whisky | Citrus | Grenadine | Sweet Vermouth
Founding Farmers Gin
Our Founding Farmers Gin is a unique single malt gin with a recipe perfected for over two years. Released in 2013, it is the product of our partnership with Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, VA. In keeping with The Founding Farmers Spirit Project philosophy, all the barley for this spirit is sourced from a neighboring farm while water for the distilling process comes from a nearby stream. Botanicals in Founding Farmers Gin, many of which are grown on the Copper Fox Distillery property, include juniper berries, cardamom, anise, orange peel, ginger, angelica, and lemon grass.
Find our single malt Founding Farmers Gin in these cocktails & many others at any Farmers Restaurant Group restaurant:
Founding Farmers Gin | Green Chartreuse | Lemon | Lemongrass
Park Your Vesper in the Barn
Founding Farmers Gin | Double Cross Vodka | Cocchi Americano
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Our Journey to Founding Spirits
Founding Spirits continues the collective mission of Farmers Restaurant Group to “unbundle the industrial supply chain.” We’re turning grains and water into alcohol for the same reason we bake our own bread and churn our own butter. It all amounts to “distilling” in our eyes. We are using our culinary know-how to make everything we can from scratch, even our booze. At Founding Spirits, we start with North Dakota and Virginia grains from farmers we know, like Mark & Michelle Watne of Watne Farms and the late Billy Dawson’s team at Bay’s Best Feed.
Over the years, we have been gradually increasing the breadth of our scratch-made beverages, beginning with our collaboration with Copper Fox Distillery, Macchu Pisco in Peru, and two different vintners to create a line of proprietary beverages — including our Founding Farmers Rye Whisky, Gin, and Pisco, as well as our New York Vines White, and Virginia Vines Rosé. Founding Spirits is our evolution into a full time, in-house operation. Inspired by our founding fathers and mothers, especially founding farmer and distiller George Washington, we are harnessing what Jon learned from his worldly travels studying the ins and outs of distillation from Europe to South America, and what Bob has been learning as he works with other distillers and our very own custom-built still. Every day, we’re continuing to up our game, tweak recipes, and challenge ourselves to produce the best spirits we can, using the best ingredients we can source. We invite you to come on by to taste what we’re distilling, take a tour, or just belly up to our bar at Farmers & Distillers and order one of our many craft cocktails.