Tenth Ward Distilling: A New Craft Distillery in Frederick

by AJ Dronkers 

The tasting room at Tenth Ward Distilling. (Photo by David Amini)

The tasting room at Tenth Ward Distilling. (Photo by David Amini)

We met the Tenth Ward Distilling team at the annual Future Harvest CASA Conference for Sustainable Agriculture in January at a session called "Starting a Craft Alcohol Business: What you Need to Know!" -- and decided to swing by their distillery and tasting room in Frederick, MD to see what they were up to.

The number of local small batch distilleries across the Maryland has been nothing short of amazing, and reflects the state's past heritage of being a top U.S. producer of rye whiskey with small shop, mom-and-pop distillers dotted across the state. In fact, Maryland's craft distilling movement has grown to a point where spirit makers have formed a Distillers Guild with now over two dozen members to aid in building a top class distillery movement and help advocate for favorable legislation for their businesses. 

Kyle pfalzer   and Monica Pearce, founders of Tenth Ward Distilling. (Photo by David Amini)

Kyle pfalzer and Monica Pearce, founders of Tenth Ward Distilling. (Photo by David Amini)

Opened in July 2016, the distillery was founded by Monica Pearce and Kyle Pfalzer to primarily focus on whiskey and brandy. For their apple brandy, they source their cider from local McCutcheon's Orchard in Frederick, MD. Their whiskeys and rye are made from grains and malts from Ripon Lodge Farm in West Virginia. 

Tenth Ward Distilling line of spirits in the tasting room. (Photo by David Amini)

Tenth Ward Distilling line of spirits in the tasting room. (Photo by David Amini)

Edible DC: Why did you decide to start a distillery?

10th Ward: We definitely wanted to get into the craft distilling industry, especially as it's been rising on the tails of the craft brewing boom. Kyle started with a love of craft beer, then learned distilling by transitioning into an internship at Copper Fox Distillery. I also had been in the bar and restaurant industry for a long time so it was a smooth transition for me. The rest was just having the willingness to jump off the cliff and go for it!

We are located in what has long been an industrial area of the city called "the 10th Ward", (a long-established industrial area of Frederick), hence our name. It reflects how the city was originally divided up and the names given to each section. Tenth Ward Distilling Company loves everything Frederick and we're committed to sharing the history of our region, including info on famous Frederick bootleggers and historic distillation techniques.

EDC: What are your plans after getting the distillery started?

A: We definitely want to grow, but starting here to make our name. We are marketing on a grass roots scale as we build our customer base locally first in the Frederick area and surrounding communities. I'd love to be supplying most of Frederick by the end of 2017, so we can start to branch our sales further out into DC and Baltimore.

You can visit, sample, and buy Tenth Ward spirits Wednesday-Sunday 12-6 pm for only $5 on your next trip to Frederick, MD. 

Barmini or the Ministry of Innovative and Craft Cocktails

Words and photos by David Santori 

The discrete door on the corner of 9th St NW & E St NW transports you from Chinatown/Penn Quarter into a world of expert cocktails. 

The discrete door on the corner of 9th St NW & E St NW transports you from Chinatown/Penn Quarter into a world of expert cocktails. 

If you’re invited to a cocktail tasting at Barmini by José Andrés, you should not even hesitate one tiny second. Run there and grab a friend on your way while you’re at it! Have you heard of their cocktail flight experience? Word on the street is that the modern techniques, ingredients, and artful skills with which their cocktails are created will take you on quite a tasty adventure. Foam, fire, nitrogen, air, and other molecular phenomenons will leave you speechless yet wanting more. So what are you waiting for?

Our expert bartender, Al, making our liquid nitrogen course, the LN2 Caipirinha. 

Our expert bartender, Al, making our liquid nitrogen course, the LN2 Caipirinha. 

When you step inside Barmini, you step into a different world - Palm Springs meets Anthropologie meets art déco. It’s sophisticated, it’s whimsical, it’s innovative.

The floral cocktail changes colors as it is prepared. 

The floral cocktail changes colors as it is prepared. 

But the real treat awaits behind the long white bar with enticing and inventive names such as Espuma, Infusion and Spherification - truly the type of cocktails you will visually appreciate being crafted in front of you and let’s not forget enjoy sipping all night long.

Delicious bites from minibar can be ordered like these grilled cheese sandwiches with truffle, cheddar, and caramelized onions. 

Delicious bites from minibar can be ordered like these grilled cheese sandwiches with truffle, cheddar, and caramelized onions. 

Tuna tartare with quail egg to quell our mounting appetites. 

Tuna tartare with quail egg to quell our mounting appetites. 

Learn more and make reservations for barmini at their website here

Photographer, blogger, Instagram addict and Parisian expat, David Santori has spent 17 years in the country before recently settling down in our nation’s capital. David’s musings are sprinkled with food, colors, lifestyle photos, travel experiences as well as humorous cultural differences. Follow his adventures @frenchieyankee on Instagram. And no, David does not own a béret.

The Gift of Giving, the Gift of Food

by Andrew Marder

November 2014 was the first time I saw my son go under general anesthesia. My wife carried him through the halls of Children’s National and into a room where a handful of doctors and nurses twiddled knobs and smiled behind green masks.

“Does he like strawberries?” one of them asked. “The gas smells like strawberries.”

He was just over a year old at the time. I didn’t know if he liked strawberries.

“Sure,” I said.

They put the tiny mask over his face and we sang Rainbow Connection to him and he cried for a few seconds and went to sleep. We kissed his head, told him we loved him and shuffled back out into the hallway.

Then, we walked down to the cafeteria and got coffees, clutching our phones and waiting to hear that all had gone well. This is how it works, every time.

Every surgery or scan or procedure is terrifying. Every call telling us it all went well is a blessing. The time in between is always spent looking out at the McMillan Reservoir, surrounded by parents, kids and doctors.

The Children’s cafeteria is my support community. I’m not there to eat a Bib Gourmand meal; I’m there to feel sane.

It’s no different than the Thanksgiving meal with friends or the New Year’s feast. Food is the hub around which our communities spin. We gather around food because food is a constant. We can talk about it, make it, plan for it and momentarily pretend like we have some control over our lives.

As we roll into the holiday season, we’re presented with an opportunity to help families feel safe and sane, if just for one meal.

If you love food, you love the way it can change lives, and the charities presented here are some of the area’s best examples of that power. As someone who has been fortunate enough to find solace in a food-centered community, I urge you to give your time, your money or your heart to one of these organizations.

When Max wakes up, we smile at the people around us and rush off to see him. The community kept us going while we wrung our hands. Now, we have an opportunity to keep other food communities going so that less privileged parents and children can also find solace, relief and happiness in food.

All of the organizations below feed children and families and seek donations to fund their efforts. Help prevent hunger this holiday season and help fund food and assistance for those in need.                                                                                                                  

Horton’s Kids

Horton’s Kids is a nonprofit that serves 500 children, grades K through 12, living in Wellington Park in Ward 8, one of Washington, DC’s, most at-risk neighborhoods. The vast majority of households have an annual income well below the national poverty line. For many children, the Horton’s Kids Community Resource Center is the only safe, consistent and accessible source of healthy food and other critical resources within walking distance of their apartments. Make a donation or volunteer at www.hortonskids.org

DC Greens     

DC Greens is changing the local food scene from all angles. This nonprofit works to create a healthy and equitable food system, creates policies that support on-the-ground work, assists teachers in developing food system curriculum, creates partnerships with farmers markets and cultivates an urban agriculture space (K Street Farm)—all with the goal of getting all people healthy food. Quite notably, their Produce Plus program offers select DC residents $10 per farmers market trip twice a week. You can support this and their other wonderful programs by donating to https://dc-greens.networkforgood.com/ or go get your hands dirty at K Street Farm Thursdays from 10am to noon and 5–7pm.

Martha's Table

Over the 30 years, Martha’s Table has created programs that increase access to education, healthy food and family support. While one of their key programs is providing their clients with healthy meals, they have expanded to running a thrift shop, offering child reading lessons and writing programs, serving before-school breakfasts, teaching technology in their Computer Learning Center and more. They will soon open a second location in Ward 8. A small donation can provide a family’s fresh groceries or textbooks for students in their education program. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/marthastable

Capital Area Food Bank

Capital Area Food Bank is on a mission to take hunger off the map. Hunger is a serious issue that is sadly endemic to neighborhoods in and around Washington, DC. Capital Area Food Bank is raising awareness and alleviating hunger and related complications such as undernutrition, heart disease and obesity. The organization partners with organizations in the DMV to provide programs including weekend bags for children, kids’ summer meals, senior brown bags, nutrition education and mobile markets. Their programs reach 540,000 people per year! You can help extend their reach by donating food, volunteering to pack food or giving a monetary donation at https://my.capitalareafoodbank.org/donate.


Brainfood is a nonprofit organization that works to empower young people through food. Their programs help teens and young adults build life skills, explore their creativity and raise self-expectations through the lens of food. Participants can enroll in after-school, summer and year-round programs to learn life and leadership skills through food and cooking. The organization highlights healthy living, critical thinking, teamwork, responsibility, community service, independence, job skills and, most importantly, fun! A donation here will help stock up their kitchen with the best supplies and food. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1441912

Children’s Inn at NIH—The Family Dinner Program

The Children’s Inn at NIH is a space where families who are undergoing serious medical treatment can go to relax. During times like this, it is hard to find time to grocery shop and cook meals for your family. You can volunteer to prepare a home-cooked meal for families at the Children’s Inn. Volunteers can either drop off the meal or stay to serve the families. Ready to get cooking? Follow this link to sign up and see guidelines for meal preparation and delivery: http://childrensinn.org/get-innvolved/volunteer/group-volunteer-opportunities/family-dinner-program/

Dreaming Out Loud

Fresh and nutritious food is not always easy to come by in DC. Over 34,000 residents, mainly in Wards 7 and 8, live in “food deserts” where their homes are more than a mile from a supermarket. Dreaming Out Loud works to bridge the gap in food access. They are rebuilding a community-based food system by making spaces for intensive urban agriculture and creating access to fresh food through farmers markets. In working to increase access to fresh food, Dreaming Out Loud is creating economic opportunities, capitalizing on local knowledge of food and building resilient communities. The organization has reached 40,000 people and grown 300,000 pounds of produce! Help them continue to enrich our local food system by donating at http://dreamingoutloud.org/.


Maybe you’ve seen a bright green school bus filled with beautiful fresh vegetables around DC? That’s a Mobile Market—just one of Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture’s innovative ideas to help bring local, sustainably produced and affordable food to underserved communities in the Washington, DC, area. At their main farm, located just south of the city, they not only grow produce but also work on education, community engagement, environmental stewardship and food access and train veterans to be farmers. Through their work on the farm and in the city, they demonstrate how small-scale sustainable agriculture can have a very big impact! To volunteer, go to http://arcadiafood.org/volunteer-opportunities-arcadia-farm, or donate here: http://arcadiafood.org/donate.

Bread for the City

Bread for the City provides vulnerable residents of Washington, DC, with services including food, clothing, medical care and legal and social services. They address several problems around DC: hunger, health care inequity, homelessness, mental illness, unemployment and domestic violence. They have a food pantry, offer healthy cooking demonstrations at their medical clinic and are now growing some of their own food. Last year, they provided food for more than 24,000 DC residents through their food pantry. You can volunteer at their food pantries, orchard, clothing room or garden events http://www.breadforthecity.org/getinvolved/volunteer/ or donate here https://www.breadforthecity.org/givetoday/

Nonprofit organization list compiled by Lizzy Gendell.

Spirited Away to 14th Street

by Andrew Marder

I can't imagine I'll actually die here. There's probably some system in place at restaurants to revive idiots like me, right? I have never been more interested in the emergency preparedness of a business than I am at this point in time, sitting among the stills of District Distilling, stuffing my stupid face with food.

At one point in the dinner, another diner noticed that I was cleaning my plate with every course.

"You're eating all of it?"

"Am I not supposed to?"

No. I was not supposed to. Or maybe I was supposed to, but only because it's a sort of social experiment wherein the chef wants to know what true gluttony looks like.

By the time this whole thing wraps up, I'll barely be able to take a single bite out of one of the most gorgeous, Scarlett Johansson-esque chocolate chip cookies I've ever seen. I take that one bite only because the woman across from me effectively dares me to.

"You don't want to be the guy who bails out of the marathon at 24 miles."

So instead I opt to die at the finish line.

Let's run it down. Deviled eggs, smoked rainbow trout on homemade cheese crackers, pork trotter fritter things, foie gras on toasts, fried chicken on a biscuit with pickles and honey, shrimp toast with a quail egg, pork shoulder poutine with bourbon gravy, shrimp and grits with tasso ham, suckling pig on Carolina Gold rice with beans, a crème brulee yeasted doughnut, and the crazy cookie with a side of milk.

This embarrassing list doesn't include all the liquor and mixed drinks that I managed to gullet, either. I've edited it down for clarity and to keep a small dollop of my dignity intact, though there seems little room for it in my system.

It was worth it.

There were points in the proceedings where I told myself, "I'd die for this man." Chef Justin Bittner (nee Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar) cares deeply about the food he makes. Touring of his prep kitchen is like stumbling through the evidence dungeon of a serial feeder, who lures hungry people into his unmarked van and then, inexplicably, feeds them.

He's smoking meat in one corner, making his own hot sauce with hatch chilies on a shelf, freezing cookie dough pucks in the walk-in, and there is - and I'm not making this up - a beat-up, rolling suitcase full of god-knows-what in the fridge.

I feel bad that I've gotten this far and haven't talked about Matt Strickland. It's just that, when you've come so close to death, you tend to forget some of the details along the way.

Strickland is District's distiller, formerly of Nashville's Corsair Distillery. In most books, there's the crazy guy (Bittner) and the sane guy. District Distilling has two mad scientists, instead.

Strickland has copper stills and stainless steel vats towering over him like boozy skyscrapers. The copper column still has two trunks that run up from the distillery into the restaurant upstairs, dotted with portholes that allow you to watch the liquor being produced. It sounds confusing, but it's a striking image.

District Distilling opened with four spirits - vodka, gin, a blended whiskey, and white rum. They're all excellent. The standout, to me, was the rum. It's a crystal clear spirit made with panela and the flavor of that sugar shines through.  There was also a rye in the works, and even without any age on it, it was excellent.

I didn't die. There was a moment where I thought, "This would be an alright place to fall asleep forever in," but then I remembered a party I was supposed to go to and decided to live.

I ended up with a to-go box for some cookies and an unearned and imperfect sense of accomplishment. Sure, the woman across from me had stood out in the cold all night to cover reactions to the election in front of the White House and slept something like 30 minutes. That's impressive - I guess.

I, however, ate a whole bunch of incredible food while downing awesome drinks. So, really, who's to say which one of us is most dedicated to the pursuit of the Truth?

If you need me, I'll be not eating for the next six months. So I guess you'll find me at the bar.

Arcadia Foods Mobile Markets - A Summer Internship Story

Words and Photos by Bishop Snedden, Special to Edible DC

It’s summer in DC. Out of an oven of a truck, crowded with refrigerators, across scorching asphalt with armfuls of tents, tables and overflowing vegetable crates, our Arcadia team creates an outdoor farmers market. Our market, although lush, local and bountiful, is different.

Arcadia Foods Mobile Markets were created to distribute sustainably grown fruits, vegetables and meats to neighborhoods that aren’t served by other farmer’s markets or do not have ready access to nutritious food. Growing up in Northwest DC, I have never had to question the quality of the food I eat or when my next meal would be, but I know that this is not every DC resident’s experience. This summer, I have come to understand that good food should not be a privilege -- it’s a right: that is Arcadia’s belief and one that I share.

We’ve arranged mason jars full of herbs at the front counter, labeled boxes of fresh berries and beans, all while eyeing the throbbing line of customers waiting to shop. The opening hour arrives, vouchers are distributed and a throng of customers move towards the market. There’s chaos. There’s commotion. There’s a mad dash toward the cherry bins.

There are whole sections of DC that lack grocery stores or easy transportation to them. Arcadia’s Mobile Markets bridge that gap, driving outfitted trucks loaded with fresh, seasonal produce and other selected items directly where they are needed most. According to DC Hunger Solutions, while DC has 49 full-service grocery stores, only two are located in Ward 7 and one in Ward 8 in comparison to neighborhoods like Ward 3 that has nine full-service stores and is the highest-income Ward.

Arcadia partners with Department of Health and DC Greens on the Produce Plus Program to distribute $10 worth of fruit and vegetable vouchers per qualifying household up to two times per week to be spent at farmer’s markets. DC residents qualify for this program if they participate in WIC, SNAP/EBT, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI or TANF. Additionally, the Mobile Market accepts and doubles SNAP, WIC and Senior FMNP. That means if a customer spends $5 with us in federal nutrition benefits, they go home with $10 in the finest local food available. The Market also accepts cash, credit and debit. Arcadia’s Mobile Markets source their food from its farm on the grounds of Woodlawn-Pope Leighey in Alexandria, from George Washington’s Mount Vernon farm, and from other farms within a 125 mile radius of DC.

Working on the cash register, I am usually the final member of the Arcadia team that our customers meet. As I ring up orders and pack bags, I love talking to people about their experience at the market: every week at United Medical Center, a customer shares a new way that he prepared the whole chicken he bought from our market. A woman consistently raves about the cantaloupe and the smoothies she prepares with the fruit she freezes. Having a customer remember our names and tell us how much they appreciate our efforts makes all the difference.

Neighbors run into neighbors, children tag along with grandparents and parents: the Mobile Markets are a part of these communities. The Arcadia team is only at each market stop for a few hours once a week, but in a small way, we have become a part of these communities as well. Our team has come to know and love our customers, like an elderly man at our Wah Luck stop. For weeks he would come to our markets, claim his Produce Plus vouchers for the week and leave without purchasing anything.  He showed up a few weeks ago and, using his saved up Produce Plus vouchers, ordered $100 of white peaches -- at our surprised expressions he explained that they were a gift to serve at his sister in law’s birthday. Her favorite fruit is white peach, and he had carefully saved to give her this gift. He is now a fixture at our market every week. Caring moments like these are never-ending and make working at Arcadia more than just a job. There is an endless need for more support for programs like Arcadia’s Mobile Markets and Produce Plus.

Ahhhhh, summer; summer with Arcadia Mobile Food Markets. Come September, I will return to college, but the market will go on into the fall. I will miss the Arcadia team, the fresh fruits and vegetables and the controlled chaos of a joyful market.  I know our customers will be lining up under the warm sun, chatting with neighbors, sharing recipes with us, and carting home their bounty.

My name is Bishop Snedden and I am a junior at Washington and Lee University, pursuing studies in Chemistry and French. I have a deep interest in food and nutrition, which led me to my summer work with Arcadia's Mobile Markets.