In the Spirit

In the Spirit: Distillery of Modern Art (DoMA) | Listen

By: Amber Chase

Tucked in the Chamblee neighborhood on the outskirts of Atlanta, the Distillery of Modern Art (DoMA) stands as a beacon of creative community and collaboration. Spearheaded by Seth Watson, the distillery envisions a space that is interdisciplinary, multi-faceted, and a cultural center for artistic exploration in Atlanta. Watson engineered the 15,000 square foot warehouse to function as its own living installation piece, lending itself to the ebb and flow of community events in their galleries, tasting room, and cocktail lounge. The Local Palate sat down with Watson to hear about the evolution of DoMA and the stories behind their artistic spirits.


DoMA Artistic Spirits and Communal Collaboration

Seth Watson Headshot for DoMA

TLP: Tell us about your foray into the distilling world.

Seth Watson: My background is in event design and production, and working with creatives in the industry always kept me tapped into the arts world. I also always carried an interest in whiskeys. Pretty soon I recognized the gap in the market for affordable spirits that were approachable and made with reputable practices. In 2017, I decided to sell my events business and shift toward a project that would marry my passion for spirits and my expertise for designing intentional, community-minded spaces. In 2022, I opened the doors at DoMA.

TLP: How is art woven into the vision for DoMA and your spirits?

Seth Watson: As I was brainstorming the distillery, I traveled around and hosted a lot of tastings. It was interesting, people were drawn to tried-and-true classics rather than the expensive bottles, and opinions were often all over the map. People like it all, and that subjectivity is empowering. Around the same time, I remember visiting an art museum with my wife and friends and felt really drawn to one of the pieces. The others with me just couldn’t connect with that piece at all. This sparked the inspiration behind DoMA, a space where opinions, subjectivity, creativity, and personal takes are welcomed and encouraged.

From there, I sought to infuse art into every aspect of the distillery. A large portion of our space is a dedicated gallery for local artists who will be on site to personally discuss their works. A big thing for me is showcasing local work without charging commission, whereas other gallerists will take 50 or 60 percent off the top. Artists loved the concept and flocked to it ever since. 

I also wanted to integrate art in our branding. Our bottles are square-shaped like a decanter with a handmade canvas label. Each label was commissioned by a local abstract artist who sampled the spirit then created a 40×40 canvas representation of their take. The original canvases now proudly hang in the distillery and are rendered on the individual bottles. Whether someone purchases our bottles in-house or across the country, we still wanted that artistic vision to shine through.

TLP: How is community integrated into the DoMA space?

Seth Watson: DoMA is a really beautiful marriage of art and community. When you walk in the doors, you can feel the space buzzing. Artists are discussing their work, live jazz or funk is playing, and we have a seasonally rotating cocktail menu paired with elevated bar snacks. We’ve become a staple for neighborhood night caps and the before-a-show crowd. Whether we’re hosting comedy, yoga, food pop ups, or burlesque shows, the communal space is always lively.

Amaro Peach by DoMA

TLP: Tell us about some of your signature spirits and how they lean into the creative eye of DoMA.

Seth Watson: First and foremost, I wanted to make spirits that were affordable and approachable, but bottles that people would display and share at home. Anything over $50 is a gift bottle, and, in my opinion, spirits are meant to be shared. While many distilleries will outsource their base spirits to quickly push their label to market, we wanted to start from scratch, aging our whiskeys properly. Just like artists patiently chip away at their masterpieces, we wanted to do the same with our spirits.

While we waited for our whiskey to age, we crafted other spirits that we could begin selling immediately. Our Peach Flavored Vodka and Amaro Peach lean into that Georgia-grown inspiration. In the Amaro Peach, the subtle sweetness of the peach balances out the Amaro’s bitterness, and is a favorite collaboration with my head distiller, Matt Greif. The Peach Vodka was a way to create flavored vodka without the awful chemical taste. Ours incorporates a slightly sweet French grain for the perfect summer vodka. Toss it in with Topo Chico and a lime wedge, and you have your next favorite sipper.

TLP: What’s your personal favorite DoMA spirit and how do you like to enjoy it?

Seth Watson: We just released a brand new Rye Whiskey made with an abruzzi rye that is local to the Southeast. It’s got a delicious, unique rye spice to it that I prefer to drink neat or on the rocks. Otherwise, you’ll find me sipping a Black Manhattan with our Amaro Peach; I can’t get over that perfect bittersweet balance. 

DoMa Cocktails To Make at Home

In Bloom Credit DoMA

In Bloom Cocktail

Black Manhattan Credit DoMA

Black Manhattan

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