George and Martha Washington welcomed thousands of guests to Mount Vernon in the more than forty years that they lived here. Most of their visitors stayed for meals, enjoying the Washingtons’ famous hospitality and the plentiful food they provided.

Dining at Mount Vernon

Dining at Mount Vernon

A number of sources provide insight into food and food service at Mount Vernon. Chief among these documents are George Washington's carefully maintained financial records, diaries, and correspondence.

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Madeira

Madeira

George Washington had an affinity for this fortified wine, produced on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the eastern Atlantic.

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Mrs. Washington's Great Cake

Mrs. Washington's Great Cake

Among Martha Washington's surviving papers is a recipe written out by her granddaughter Martha Parke Custis, which calls for 40 eggs worked into four pounds of butter, four pounds of sugar, five pounds of flour, and an equal quantity of fruit.

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Cooking Demonstrations at Mount Vernon

Watch our historic trades experts prepare 18th century recipes.

Flour and Grains from the Gristmill

George Washington's merchant gristmill was capable of producing 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of flour and cornmeal a day.

During the 1760s Washington had moved away from tobacco cultivation and began to plant more grains, primarily wheat and corn. The switch to grains gave Washington a dependable cash crop, something tobacco did not provide. With an expanded and more efficient gristmill, Washington could turn his crops into another product, flour or cornmeal.

In 1791, George Washington upgraded his milling operation by installing improvements invented by Oliver Evans. Today, this milling system is faithfully interpreted, fully-functioning, and open to guests seasonally.

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Whiskey and Spirits from the Distillery

In 1799, George Washington's distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons, making it the largest whiskey distillery in America at the time.

Distilleries were very common in early America. In the 1810 census there were more than 3600 distilleries operating in the state of Virginia alone. Washington's distillery was the largest, measuring 75 x 30 feet (2,250 square feet) while the average distillery was about 20 x 40 feet (800 square feet).

Today, a faithfully reconstructed working distillery produces small batch spirits on site and is open to visitors.

visit washington's distillery

Distilled Spirits from Mount Vernon

Washington was once the largest whiskey producer in America. Today we continue the tradition of producing whiskey as well as other small batch distilled spirits at our historic Distillery & Gristmill site. 375ml bottles of the distilled spirits produced at Mount Vernon are available for purchase at the Shops at Mount Vernon.

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