Craft Distillers Were Booming. Now They Face Bust.

In recent years, sales for small liquor makers have been surging, but coronavirus has shuttered tasting rooms and disrupted distribution.

For Todd Thrasher, it seemed like a sure bet. In October 2018, he opened a sprawling bar and rum distillery along the newly revitalized District Wharf in Washington, D.C., with three floors, space for 300 diners and 56 employees. He figured that with the area’s heavy foot traffic and a booming local economy, his wager would pay off quickly.

And for a while, the bar, Tiki TNT, and the adjacent Potomac Distilling Company were a huge hit. Then came the coronavirus outbreak. In late March, Mr. Thrasher closed the bar and furloughed his entire staff, including himself. Though he is still distilling, he doesn’t know how long he can stay in business.

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