Todd Thrasher, a bartender who found regional acclaim in suburban Washington, branches out with a rum distillery at the Wharf in D.C.

The smokestack at the new Potomac Distilling Company, set to open Sept. 1 in Washington D.C.’s revitalized Wharf area, is 74 feet tall. The white letters that run vertically down it are two to three feet each. They spell out “Thrashers Rum.”

If Washington-area residents didn’t know who Todd Thrasher was before, they do now.

“I’m not so easy at self-promoting. It’s not a comfortable position for me to be in,” said Mr. Thrasher, 48, a career bartender, bar owner and now, distiller. “When the smokestack came in, they said, ‘You’ve got to put your name on it.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that.’”

He had a similarly self-deprecating reaction when Monty Hoffman — one of the developers behind the multibillion-dollar renewal of the Wharf — called him up in 2015. Mr. Hoffman asked him to take a look at a new building along the Washington Channel, about 1,000 yards from the National Mall.

It was an area familiar to Mr. Thrasher, a native of Arlington, Va., from his childhood. His father, a taxi driver, often drove him around the Wharf, best known for its open-air fish market, the oldest continuously operating one in the United States.

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