Where Our Vodka Begins

Our award-winning craft vodka has its roots in the Hard Red Spring Wheat fields of Minot, North Dakota. This particular grain, known and grown for its high quality, has been called the “aristocrat of wheat.” Ours is harvested on the Watne farm where Mark, Michelle, and their family are fourth-generation farmers. 

Our Distillery Director, Jon Arroyo, flew out to North Dakota recently to see the farm, meet the family, and connect with Mark Watne, who is also president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, which co-owns our distillery and Farmers Restaurant Group.

Check out this short video of Jon and Mark talking and sharing our story direct from those North Dakota wheat fields.


As a craft distiller of wheat and small-batch spirits, Jon was delighted to be standing in those wheat fields and talking to our wheat farmer and friend, Mark. For distillers, as well as other makers and bakers, being amidst the land where the raw ingredients are grown and talking to the people who grow them, takes their craft to a whole new level. 

Curious to taste what all these connected-to-the-source efforts produce in our unique vodka? Make a reservation and stop by any of our restaurants, take a tour of our in-house distillery located at Farmers & Distillers, or buy a bottle online. See if you can taste the difference.

We sure can.



Join our Dynamic Founding Spirits Team

Are you passionate about the art of distilling and handcrafted spirits? Do you have a knack for conversation and collaboration? Are you an organized, self-starter who likes to strategize and plan? Do you want to join a creative, motivated team shaking up the DC cocktail scene?

If so, our Founding Spirits team would love to talk with you and find out more.

Founding Spirits has won five industry awards for distilling, in our first year of operations alone. Ourmicro-distillery comes from the team that pioneered Farmers Restaurant Group, the DC metro area’s from-scratch, farmer-owned brand of restaurants, including Founding Farmers, Farmers Fishers Bakers, and Farmers & Distillers.

Building upon our commitment to handcrafted food and drink, and high quality, responsible sourcing of ingredients, Founding Spirits is led by the beverage industry’s award winning, Jon Arroyo. Jon and our distillery manager, Bob VanLancker, have created a collection of spirits receiving international acclaim.

We are a creative, dynamic distilling team looking for a motivated, organized, collaborative, and knowledgeable new member. Our full-time Sales & Marketing Manager will be responsible for:

  • Growing awareness of the Founding Spirits brand
  • Expanding the brand’s evolving sales channels
  • Increasing product movement and development, and more…

We offer a competitive salary with performance-based bonuses and commissions; and company-supported health, dental, and 401k plans are available.

For more information and to apply, click here.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity. Founding Spirits is already shaking up the local DC spirit scene, and looking forward to continued growth with the assistance of a new Sales & Marketing Manager.

 

A Spirited, Award-Winning Year in Review

It’s been quite an amazing year for our in-house, micro-batchdistillery.

Custom-built inside Farmers & Distillers, Founding Spirits is the brainchild of our dynamic distilling duo, Distillery Director Jon Arroyo and Distillery Manager Bob VanLancker. In our first year, Founding Spirits has received some of the most acclaimed international awards, been recognized by spirit connoisseurs across the world as a new distillery to follow, and has been featured at events in our nation’s capital and beyond. If that isn’t enough, we have also transitioned to selling our spirits online so you don’t have to live near one of our restaurants to get a taste of our award-winning spirits.

We know that part of what makes our spirits so special is that our farmer-owned, scratch-made, source-matters mission runs through all we do, even our craft spirits. Our family-farmed wheat is trucked to us from our co-owners, the North Dakota Farmers Union, for our award-winning Founding Spirits Vodka. The corn, wheat, barley, and oats come direct from our good friend and farmer, the late Billy Dawson, for our Founding Spirits American Whiskey. The honey for our limited-edition Amaro is harvested right here in downtown DC with our apiary partnership with The George Washington University.

This year’s awards & recognition have really put us on the craft spirits map. To date, Founding Spirits has won FIVE major industry awards. With Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro winning four prestigious awards:

… and our Founding Spirits Vodka notably awarded BRONZE by the American Distilling Institute.

We were featured guests at the world-famous Tales of the Cocktail participating in two conference-sponsored tastings. We joined bartenders and spirit specialists from across the globe at the fourth annual Tiki by the Sea, teaching and training how to craft the best tiki cocktails. And we have enjoyed meeting, greeting, and serving our fans at events across the DC metropolitan area. Our Founding Spirits Vodka was the sponsored spirit for one of the nation’s biggest tennis events, DC’s Citi Open. We’ve served our famous Cucumber Delight to the delight of guests at DC’s biggest industry award gala, The RAMMY’s; hosted our very own Kentucky Derby celebration complete with our Founding Spirits Derby-inspired cocktails and a tasting with our award-winning team; and we served handcrafted cocktails and joined forces to support DC Central Kitchen, St. Jude, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, and more.

We’ve been delighted to be able to offer our spirits for sale online this year too.

We couldn’t be more excited about the past year at Founding Spirits.

Come in and see (and taste) for yourself. Book a tour with us. Founding Spirits distillery tours and tastings are available Saturdays by reservations; walk-ins are also accepted pending availability. Or join us at Farmers & Distillers and have one of our expert cocktail specialists make you a Founding Spirits craft cocktail.

Founding Spirits can also be purchased at Farmers & Distillers, through multiple local retailers, and ordered online.

Never Bitter Indeed, Our Amaro Wins AGAIN

Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro won its fourth award earlier this month, a SILVER medal from the 2018 International Review of Spirits by Tastings, an affiliate of the Beverage Testing Institute.

Earning 86 points and highly recommended, Tastings gave a full description of our amaro with the award win: “Hazy mahogany color. Aromas and flavors of soft black licorice, chocolate sauce, proofing dough, cinnamon, and ginger powder on raisins, and cola syrup with a round, crisp, bittersweet medium body, and a peppery, interesting, medium-length oregano finish. A funky amaro to pair with a chocolate croissant.”

This latest award follows on the heels of a winning year for our less than two-year-old spirit. Our Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro won GOLD and Best in 2018 from the American Distilling Institute and SILVER from the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Featured in several of our bar favorites, including the Negroni Swizzle at Farmers & Distillers and the Amaro Daiquiri at Founding Farmers, our amaro is also quite delicious on its own. It recently became available for purchase online, so even if you can’t get to one of our restaurants, you can enjoy its award-winning “never bitter” taste in the comfort of your own home.

Founded in 1981 with the goal of producing fair, impartial wine reviews for consumers, Tastings has since expanded their scope to include beer and spirits. Over the years, their reviews have appeared in publications and online industry sites such as, Wine Enthusiast, Restaurant Hospitality, The New Yorker, Wine & Spirits Magazine, Epicurious.comand many others. As an independent product rating and review company, Tastings provides beverage buying guides and education for consumers and the trade. Their mission is to help people discover and understand drinks they will love.

Founding Spirits Delights RAMMY Guests

Last night, Founding Spirits was mixing it up and toasting to another great DC restaurant year with the DMVs best and most festive foodies at the annual RAMMY Awards Gala.

Our team was on site serving Cucumber Delight, a light and refreshing mix of our award winning Founding Spirits Vodka and Domaine de Canton, cucumber, cantaloupe, and lemon. As one of our most famous Founding Farmers cocktails, also available at Farmers & Distillers, Cucumber Delight has quite a fan club, and last night was no different.

What was different about last night, however, was the interest and excitement around an effort our parent company, Farmers Restaurant Group, is leading: Our Last Straw.

A coalition of restaurants, bars, cafes, and hotels, Our Last Straw is working to eliminate plastic straws in the DMV and reduce our reliance on all single-use plastics. As leaders in this effort, we brought our team, including our mascot – Eddy, the Turtle – to the RAMMYS to bring awareness to this issue and encourage other partnerships across DC’s hospitality industry.

President & CEO of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, Kathy Hollinger, welcomed the efforts of Farmers Restaurant Group and Our Last Straw announcing that everyone in the industry needs to work together to 86 plastic straws, starting at last night’s gala – where no plastic straws were served – to which the crowd, in excess of 2,400 people, applauded.

Negroni Week Just Got Better with Our Amaro

June 4th marks the start of a very special season: Negroni Week. Thanks to our award-winning Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro, it just got even more amazing.

We are pretty psyched to wow Negroni lovers, as well as newbies to the Negroni scene, with a few of our spins on this classic cocktail. While a traditional Negroni is made with gin, a bitter aperitif (such as Campari), sweet vermouth, and finished with an orange twist, our Managing Partner of Beverage & Distillery Jon Arroyo, has come up with some very special handcrafted alternatives.

Our Negroni cocktails use our very own Founding Spirits, including our award-winning Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro. We will be serving three Negroni-inspired craft cocktails from June 4-10 at Founding Farmers, Farmers & Distillers, and Farmers Fishers Bakers:

Negroni Sour is a smooth and creamy mix of our Gold Medal Winner, Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro, Founding Farmers Gin, Campari, lemon, orange, and egg white.

Negroni Swizzle is a delightful mix of Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro, Founding Farmers Gin, Campari, cinnamon, and lemon.

The Silent Negroni includes Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro, Mezcal El Silencio Espadin, Campari, and Pamplemousse Rose.

If this trio of taste isn’t enough to get you out and about, perhaps and you can have a Negroni Week party of your own and order some of our award-winning Founding Spirits online. Sponsor Imbibe Magazine has lots of recipes online and even Negroni week t-shirts to order.

At Farmers Restaurant Group, we love this annual opportunity to serve delicious cocktails for a cause. This year’s benefit is No Kid Hungry, which is a movement of teachers, chefs, community leaders, parents, lawmakers, and CEOs with one shared belief: No kid in America should go hungry.

Negroni Week is an annual international fundraiser put on by Imbibe magazine and Campari. To date, they have collectively raised nearly $1.5 million for charitable causes. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger through effective programs that provide kids with the food they need.

Founding Spirits Welcomes Our North Dakota Wheat

Yesterday afternoon, Founding Spirits welcomed the latest addition to our Farmers Restaurant Group family: our 18-wheeler, owned and operated by our co-owners at the North Dakota Farmers Union. Our truck will be used to deliver family-farmed ingredients directly to our restaurants.

The largest commodity of yesterday’s delivery was the wheat we use to distill our award-winning Founding Spirits Vodka. Known as the aristocrat of wheat, this Hard Red Spring Wheat is harvested right on the family farm of Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

Watne was there to receive the truck, along with Co-Owner Dan Simons and our Distillery Manager, Bob VanLancker. A few other friends helped us meet the truck as well, including Roger Johnson from the National Farmers Union and members of the Keany Produce & Gourmet family and team who help us distribute to all of our restaurants.

Everyone said a few words, and then we celebrated the big day with tasty treats at the Farmers & Distillers bar overlooking our still.

Founding Spirits was simultaneously hosting a tasting of our spirits, which now have earned four prestigious international awards. If you are interested in trying our craft spirits, Farmers & Distillers is hosting tastings every week, Monday thru Thursday, from 4-6pm.

 

Founding Spirits Releases American Whiskey

Since the very beginning of our distilling adventures with Copper Fox Distillery almost a decade ago, we have had our sights set on making a true American Whiskey. But we knew we had to be patient, as truly great things take time.

We are excited to announce that the big day has finally arrived! Founding Spirits is releasing our latest (and maybe our favorite yet) handcrafted spirit, American Whiskey.

Starting May 1, Founding Spirits will be bringing us home to one of our nation’s true, great tastes: American Whiskey. 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.

This week (May 1-6, 2017) at Farmers & Distillers, Beverage Director Jon Arroyo will debut some very tasty, Derby-inspired ways to try our new American Whiskey with an array of takes on the famous Mint Julep:

  • Traditional Mint Julep with FS American Whiskey, mint, and rum for $12
  • Never Better” Julep with FS American Whiskey, mint, and our delicious, “never bitter” FS Amaro for $14
  • Blueberry Julep with FS American Whiskey, blueberry gin, mint, and ginger for $14

Of course, you can also try this unique, small batch blend neat, on the rocks, or in a whole host of other delicious cocktails. And make sure to swing by on Friday, May 5th from 4:30-5:30pm when we will be hosting a free FS American Whiskey tasting at our Farmers & Distillers bar with Founding Spirits Distillery Director Jon Arroyo and Copper Fox Distillery’s Master Distiller Rick Wasmund.

On Derby Day, May 6th, you can purchase a bottle of FS American Whiskey for $52. The first ten buyers will receive a special, complimentary Founding Spirits branded copper Julep cup, complete with matching copper straw.

We look forward to celebrating Kentucky Derby Week with you at Farmers & Distillers, May 1-6. If joining us for a meal, reservations are recommended. Or just drop by anytime, and we can welcome you home to the smooth and savory taste of our very own American Whiskey. Beginning May 1, cocktails for in-house enjoyment or bottles to take home can be purchased at Farmers & Distillers. And for a behind the scenes look inside our distillery, you can arrange a tour of Founding Spirits to learn what goes into the makings of all our spirits.

Another Award for Our Amaro

Founding Spirits brought home another major award last week. Our Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro received a SILVER medal from the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

San Francisco’s highly competitive event, which launched such spirits as Tito’s Handmade Vodka, brought together distillers from all over the world. More than 2,200 spirits were judged, the largest number of entries in their 18-year history.

Our Amaro apparently stole the show, making for another sweet stop on Jon Arroyo’s journey to change the intimidating and bitter reputation of traditional Amaro. In fact, it is an essential ingredient in many of our favorite craft cocktails.

Farmers & Distillers is currently serving up delicious amaro cocktails, like our take on the famous Negroni Swizzle, and many enjoy our amaro straight up over ice. All of our sibling restaurants, Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers, also serve amaro in their drink specialties.

We invite you to stop by any of our restaurants for a taste of this Silver, Gold, and Best of 2018 award winner. Or buy a bottle to enjoy at home. Founding Spirits can be purchased at Farmers & Distillers and at multiple local retailers. Our craft spirits can also be ordered online.

Mixing it Up to Celebrate Shaw

The city’s Best New American Restaurant joined Taste of Shaw at the Howard Theater last week with one of our favorite craft cocktails featuring Founding Spirits. The Farmers & Distillers crew was in the house mixing our American Whiskey Buck, a smooth blend of Founding Spirits American Whiskey, lemon, ginger, and cane syrup.

This Shaw neighborhood annual celebration brings together a who’s who of DC’s thriving dining scene. Guests enjoyed unlimited sips and noshes throughout the evening from over 20 local restaurants and bars, plus dancing to live music by internationally-renowned Ethiopian artist Yehunie Belay and his band.

It was a very festive night to celebrate the amazing Shaw neighborhood, which won the 2016 Great American Main Street Award, the country’s Oscar for community leadership in renewing traditional downtown areas across the U.S. Proceeds from the event support the continued economic revitalization and preservation of Shaw Main Streets, which has helped bring about the transformation of this historic DC neighborhood since 2003.