We’ll Drink to That: Local Bars Create Cocktails for the Inauguration

By: Ashley Jacobs

The US of A Rocks drink, available at Brasserie Beck, Hook, and other local restaurants.

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As Washington gets ready to welcome our country’s 44th president, local bars and restaurants are toasting the occasion with a slew of special inauguration-themed cocktails.

Several drinks will be available at Penn Quarter’s Poste Moderne Brasserie, including beers from both Barack Obama’s and Joe Biden’s native states—Hawaii and Delaware. At the bar, specialty cocktails include a handful of classics made in honor of past presidents, such as Bill Clinton’s Snakebite—equal parts organic hard cider and North Coast Stout—and Harry Truman’s Old Fashioned—Maker’s Mark, soda water, and a maraschino cherry. Poste’s drink for Obama is called the Americano = Change, and it features Bluecoat organic gin, Campari, and a foam of sweet vermouth. All cocktails are $11.

The Bushwacker ($8) wasn’t named with President Bush in mind, but Nage couldn’t resist serving it anyway because of the name. A traditional recipe in the Caribbean, the Bushwacker is a combination of Kahlúa, Mount Gay rum, crème de cacao, and a shot of espresso.

At this homey spot in DC’s Dupont Circle, Firefly mixologist Alice Gaber named her cocktail the First Lady Marmalade ($12.50). It’s created using a house-made preserve of Meyer lemons and candied ginger mixed with citrus vodka and topped with sparkling wine.

Alexandria’s Jackson 20 is named after President Andrew Jackson, and its inaugural specials pay homage to that president’s rather boisterous inauguration. Jackson was the first president to invite the public to a White House ball, leading to a mob of excited civilians that proved too much to control. To pull revelers out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a hastily made punch was served on the lawn. Jackson 20’s Presidential Punch ($10) is in honor of this chaos, and it’s made with Leblon Cachaça, peach Schnapps, sparkling cider, house-made raspberry syrup, and fresh apples, peaches, and pineapple. Another drink is the O’Pama ($12), made with Absolut mandarin vodka, Grand Marnier, pomegranate liqueur, and lemon-ginger syrup.

The Obama Mama ($7) was so popular during the presidential debates that Hudson Restaurant and Lounge decided to keep it on the menu through the end of January. The flavorful drink features three Caribbean rums mixed with fresh pineapple and strawberry juices and a splash of house-made sour mix, garnished with fresh pineapple and strawberries.

Located in DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, Urbana has a new drink called Barack’s Fizz ($12), created by mixologist Kevin Rogers. A sweet, classic combination, the drink mixes cognac, Grand Marnier, maraschino liqueur, and orange juice with muddled strawberries and topped with Domaine Carneros sparkling wine.

Through the end of January, Penn Quarter’s Indebleu is serving a complete menu of Inauguration 2009 cocktails, including both blended and on-the-rocks specialties. The Obama-rita ($12) and #44 ($14) are our preferred libations. The former blends Jose Cuervo, Captain Morgan spiced rum, apple liqueur, and Sprite, while the latter is a mix of muddled cranberries and house-made triple sec with vodka. Indebleu also has the Lady Michelle ($13), which blends rum, huckleberries, mint, lime, and raw sugar, and a White House Coco Martini ($12), a savory combination of house-infused four-chili tequila with Bailey’s and crème de cacao.

Tonic Restaurant in DC’s Mount Pleasant has no fewer than seven speciality cocktails available on January 20, but we’re most curious about the Chang’aa, a potentially lethal drink enjoyed each night in Kenya. Its ingredients range from fresh mangos and pineapple to methanol—the country is so impoverished that liquor is sometimes difficult to come by at an affordable rate. Tonic will serve its version with vanilla pods and Kettle One vodka. Other drinks include the Doggone It, using three liquors—Stolichnaya vodka, blue curaçao, and Cointreau—from three countries Sarah Palin has never visited, and the Yes, We Can, a purple drink combining the colors of both parties with vodka, grenadine, and blue curaçao. All three drinks are $8 each.

Located inside the Willard InterContinental Washington, the famed Round Robin Bar has a full collection of presidential-themed cocktails, including something for President-elect Barack Obama. The Obama Shake ($14)—so-named because of his promise to shake things up—the drink is a light mix of fruit-infused vodkas, raspberry and other fruit syrups, and cream.

Skyy Vodka has announced a collection of four special cocktails created in honor of the occasion using its infused vodkas, and they’re available at Brasserie Beck, Hudson Restaurant and Lounge, Hook, and PS 7’s. The American Dream—a mix of Skyy Infusions Cherry, triple sec, cherry juice, and a squeeze of lime—is a sweeter version of a cosmopolitan, while the US of A Rocks, a drink favoring citrus flavors, combines passion-fruit-infused vodka with peach Schnapps, simple syrup, and orange and lemon juices. The patriotic Stay True to Red, White, and Blue uses raspberry-infused vodka, lime juice, and ginger simple syrup, and the Hail to the Chief muddles fresh blackberries with grape-infused vodka, ginger, and sugar, topped with ginger ale.

Know of an inauguration-themed cocktail that we missed? Add it in the comments! 

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