Todd Thrasher isn’t afraid to lighten up these days—or as it says on the pink neon sign at his new distillery and bar, “Have a Blast.”
The 48-year-old veteran bartender will open his dream spot on Monday: Potomac Distilling Company, a waterfront rum distillery and island-style tiki bar at the DC Wharf. Bamboo creeps up all three floors (including a tropical rooftop), bartenders crank out frozen house rum and Cokes (served in the can), and the menu features packaged Top Ramen (along with a bunch of cheffy stuff).
“Bartenders take ourselves way too seriously,” says Thrasher. “I don’t want to be serious.”
So says the man who pioneered DC’s super-serious speakeasy trend over a decade ago at his Alexandria cocktail haunt, PX—complete with a list of house rules (i.e. no standing at the bar). The formality was, in part, an effort to create a serious cocktail scene. But now that Thrasher has helped establish one, he’s ready to pour some piña coladas and welcome the masses to stand at his bars.
That’s not to say Potomac Distilling isn’t a serious endeavor. The distillery will produce a line of small-batch Thrasher’s Rums, which if all goes well, Thrasher wants to expand and distribute globally. Unlike the crowded market of whiskeys, there’s still sipping room for American rums, which have the advantage of being quicker and less expensive to produce on a quality scale. (Also, Thrasher drinks rum almost exclusively, with the exception of gin.)