Distilled Spirits Council - Celebrating the Opening of its New Washington, D.C. Office

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States – DISCUS is the U.S. spirits industry’s top advocate in Washington, D.C., our nation’s state capitals and around the globe. The association includes the largest distilleries down to the craft and farm distilleries from across the country. As an organization, it unites distillers, producers and suppliers of all sizes to speak with a single, powerful voice.

Coinciding with the DISCUS 50th anniversary it has officially opened the doors of its new headquarters at 101 Constitution Avenue on Capitol Hill. They are now literally 60 seconds from the U.S. Capitol, perhaps a little longer with D.C. traffic.

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“We are beyond excited to be in our brand-new office and in such a prime location overlooking the U.S. Capitol,” said Chris Swonger, President, and CEO of DISCUS and Responsibility.org.  “As we celebrate DISCUS’ 50th anniversary, this modern, one-of-a-kind office will greatly support our mission to be effective and strong advocates for the spirits sector and its consumers well into the future.”

The new headquarters pays homage to the rich history of the spirits industry and takes guests on a journey into the world of spirits with design elements highlighting the heritage, craftmanship and agricultural foundations of spirits products. 

George Washington Letter about his Distillery
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George Washington letter about his distillery is on display in the lobby (click to enlarge).

Guests have an opportunity to view rare historical artifacts in the reception area, including a letter penned by George Washington in 1799 about his successful distillery operation at Mount Vernon, and a 1776 Continental Army Commissary List, which detailed liquor accounts for General George Washington and several other Continental officers.

Special spirits-related themes are featured throughout the office. Illustrations of agriculture, stills, barrels and aging warehouses depict the distillation process from field to glass, and a wall showcasing a wide range of jobs from farmers to distillers to bartenders underscores the spirits industry’s significant economic contributions.

To symbolize the transition from distilling to the consumer cocktail experience, guests walk through an archway shaped like a spirit’s bottle leading to a spacious entertaining area with a magnificent 30-foot tiled bar complemented with stools, cocktail booths and lounge seating. 

The cocktail area features unique touches including pendant light fixtures crafted with glass decanters and a “photo wall” with more than 40-barrel tops to foster a spirit of camaraderie.

The entertaining space can accommodate up to 200 people and has unparalleled views of the Capitol dome. Other organizations and companies can use the entertaining space and executive boardroom for work receptions, meetings and thought leader forums. 

Given Swonger’s dual role as head of DISCUS and Responsibility.org, the non-profit organization dedicated to alcohol responsibility, and the numerous shared members, Responsibility.org  has office space on the same floor as DISCUS. The DISCUS and Responsibility.org workspaces are filled with phone rooms, team and conference rooms, offices, sit/stand desks and lounge furniture allowing staff members to choose their preferred working environment.

“Our new office celebrates the vibrant cocktail culture in the U.S. and the importance of the hospitality industry,” said Swonger. “We set out to create a workplace where our team feels inspired every time they walk into the office, and our guests have an unforgettable experience and a deeper appreciation for spirits.”

DISCUS began the new office search in 2019 with commercial real estate advisory firm, Cresa and landed on 101 Constitution Ave., a USGBC LEED Gold Certified and WELL Health-Safety Rated building, and the closest commercial office space to the U.S. Capitol.

“The team at Cresa led the multi-year project through the challenges of the pandemic and ensured the holistic vision and needs of the association and board were met,” said Swonger. “We could not have asked for a better partner to help us find the perfect location for our new headquarters.”

DISCUS’ office was constructed by rand* and designed by D.C.-based interior architecture and design firm, sshape.

“The new office space tells the story of the tradition and innovation of the distilling process through its architecture and will offer a venue for work, meetings and events that will support the organization’s growth and outreach,” said Roger Sola-Solé, partner and managing director for sshape. “Working with DISCUS has been an exciting process, merging creativity with the strategic vision of the organization to ‘sshape’ a workspace that embodies the spirit of collaboration.”

Bob Milkovich, rand* CEO, added, “rand is so proud to partner with DISCUS and Responsibility.org to build their new high-end offices and custom event space. We were able to utilize our expertise in both high-end tenant interior buildouts and event space amenities to execute on the goal of progressing their causes.  It was all made possible by the vision of the organization and its leadership, with the help of key stakeholders, that made the offices a reality.”

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is the leading voice and advocate for the distilled spirits industry and adult spirits consumers in the United States. For 50 years, DISCUS has effectively advocated on behalf of its members on legislative, regulatory, and public affairs issues at the local, state, federal and international levels.

DISCUS members are committed to responsibility and encourage adults who drink to do so in moderation.

Learn more about Distilled Spirits Council of the United States – DISCUS.
Learn more about Responsibility.org.

Bourbon ‘Lubricate the Wheels of Government’

The Henry Clay Center - Bourbon Barrel of Compromise
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The Henry Clay Center – Bourbon Barrel of Compromise.
Henry Clay - Apr. 12, 1777–June 29, 1852
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Henry Clay first arrived in Washington, D.C. in 1810. He believed that despite their differences, Americans must be willing to talk with each other. To assist him in starting conversation, he brought with him one of his state’s most iconic products – a barrel of Kentucky bourbon – believing bourbon could “lubricate the wheels of government.” His legacy of holding court at the Round Robin Bar in the Willard Intercontinental Hotel survives today.

In addition to this famous line, he is also credited with writing the first historical recipe for the mint julep and introducing it to the public at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

DISCUS Office Photo Credit: ©Ron Blunt.

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