Bringing MacMillan Whiskey to Old Town Alexandria

Our latest restaurant client, MacMillan Spirit House in Old Town Alexandria, has caught the eye of the Washington Business Journal, which reported that:

“Derek Anderson and Emma Hand hope to open MacMillan Spirit House by the end of the year at 500 Montgomery St. The roughly 3,800-square-foot space, including an outdoor patio area, is more than twice as large as the whiskey room they opened at 2920 District Ave. in Fairfax in 2019 … In addition to being able to accommodate more customers, the larger space will give the pair room for an expanded food and beverage list.” (Visit WBJ to learn how the couple selected this location for their second venture.)

The addition of MacMillan to 500 Montgomery is part of an effort to transform this 1980s-era office building into a mixed-use property activated by community-serving commercial and cultural uses. This type of conversion is not without its share of architectural challenges, as reimagining a first-floor office — with low ceilings and base building systems (HVAC and other mechanical components) — into a full-service restaurant and tasting bar. This calls for some creativity and a deep understanding of how the space will be used.

Our design reconfigures large spaces into smaller, intimate social areas using texture, color, and lighting. Luckily, a whiskey bar lends itself to darker finishes, such as rich wood paneling, that can mask certain pre-existing elements that might otherwise be out of character for this use. To add a sense of height, we will leave exposed utility lines and hanging pendant light fixtures that shield the ceiling plane. Details such as these will help to create a different experience in each area of the establishment. 

We look forward to sharing progress photos in the near future, and toasting this new Northern Virginia business later this year.