Like a good wine list and a few craft beers on tap, having an interesting cocktail program is par for the course at ambitious new restaurants, and established spots are eager to keep up.
“Mystical woodland” is how Jon Harris describes the vibe at Firefly, the twinkly restaurant inside Hotel Madera at 1310 New Hampshire Avenue, Northwest. Through September, Firefly is undergoing a renovation that will keep intact the candlelit tree at its center but add a porch swing and a new lounge, and elongate the bar itself. It will also create a more clearly demarcated bar area—it currently sort of flows right into the dining room—and add more bar seating. To oversee this new drinking attraction, managing group Kimpton Hotels tapped Harris.
Cashion’s has long been an Adams Morgan neighborhood spot, but it’s adding one more incentive for regulars: a bar food menu, launching this Thursday.
Offered during normal dinner hours, the lineup of new dishes supplements one of our favorite late-night menus, which run at the bar on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight until 2. Fortunately you won’t have to wait until the wee hours for the new dishes from chef John Manolatos, such as a juicy pork burger topped with grilled onions, cornichon, and Gruyère, crispy potatoes with garlic aïoli, and house-made pork rinds. You’ll also find a new cocktail list with riffs on the classics, like a Manhattan made with fig-infused Bulleit Bourbon and a mint julep mixed with the bartender favorite Fernet Branca. (See samples of both menus below.)
You may want to try it out on night one, but if you can hold off, the Cashion’s crew is offering $2 off all of the new plates on Friday (which all currently clock in at under ten bucks). Also look for a few Oktoberfest specials starting Saturday.
Daisuke Utagawa and his partners have been working on their two forthcoming Gallery Place restaurants—a
40-seat ramen spot and a separate upstairs
izakaya, which will seat about 100—for more than two years. More recently, they added an
additional project to the plans: a cocktail bar at 600 F Street, Northwest, just down
the street from the new restaurants at 705 Sixth Street.
The team—which includes 18th Street Lounge co-founder Yama Jewayni, chef and Think Food Group vet Katsuya Fukushima, and designers at the DC firm Edit—traveled to Japan together to gather inspiration for the new projects. They spent time at the factory in Sapporo that will supply the noodles for their ramen—noodles that Utagawa and Fukushima agree can not be replicated in the States. They also visited a lot of restaurants and bars, and it was the Japanese drinking spots that inspired them to open the cocktail bar. Utagawa points out that there are virtually no restrictions on liquor sales in Japan, which has helped create an amazing variety of bars in that country.
Yes, it’s always national something day. What can we say? We’re suckers for this stuff. Especially when it involves drink specials and new taco bars with really exciting food. So here it is: Tonight, El Chucho is offering $4 shots of Tequila Real Blanco, a spirit newly available to the states and only available in the Washington market, and $5 margaritas. The restaurant is also taking 20 percent off of every offering on the tequila and mezcal menu. Bonard Molina, Tequila Real importer, will be on hand to talk agave spirits.
Not to be outdone, Mike Isabella’s Georgetown spot, Bandolero, has a special called “tequila for amigos” that begins at 4 PM. Buy one agave-based spirit neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, and the second one—which you will presumably pass on to your amigo—is gratis. The special lasts all night.
J&G Steakhouse is charging just $5 for its ginger margarita tonight from 5:30 to 7 PM; the drink is regularly $12.
By Jessica Voelker
A trip to the Museum of American History is always an edifying experience, but all the learnin’ goes down a lot easier when you’ve got a strong drink in your hand. Last Wednesday, guests of the museum had the very cool opportunity to sip cocktails made by some of the city’s best bartenders at an event called Raise a Glass to the Silver Screen, part of the Mingle at the Museum series and a collaboration with the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) in New Orleans.
The Tabard Inn’s Chantal Tseng and Tim Burt served up gin drinks inspired by The Thin Man, while Passenger ’tenders mixed and poured at the Casablanca table. Local cocktail scribe Philip Greene, a MOTAC cofounder, served as emcee, taking guests through a montage of cocktail cameos in films like The Idle Class, Animal House, and Dead Reckoning.
Check out the slideshow for a close-up look at the boozy event, and visit MOTAC’s website to find out about future opportunities to learn while you drink.
I’ve been out drinking a lot of cocktails over the past few months. Quite a lot, if we’re being honest. Some of them were not so good, some of them were great. Here are five of the latter.
Champagne Crusta at Bistro Bohem
This riff on the classic brandy crusta (Cognac, orange curaçao, lemon juice, bitters) is the only cocktail on the wee Czech restaurant’s brief brunch menu, and it’s excellent. Bar manager Mark Reyburn shakes Ragnaud-Sabourin Cognac with Cointreau and lemon juice, pours the contents into a sugar-rimmed flute, and tops the drink with the semisweet sparkling wine Russkoe Igristoje—it’s a light, lovely way to start a Sunday.
Almost Home at Columbia Room
Katie Nelson offered up this invention—dreamed up on a cab ride home, thus the name—at a recent Columbia Room class on honey (the Seventh Street lounge keeps a beehive on the roof). She starts by heating honey and infusing it with lavender. This is combined with crisp Manzanilla sherry and Yamazaki 12 Year, a bright Japanese whiskey. You have to reserve a stool in advance at this tiny libations spot (and keep in mind it will be closed briefly this month), but there’s magic happening behind that bar.
By Jessica Voelker
If you’re a hardcore Passenger and/or Columbia Room fan, better gulp it up now. A rep tells us that the conjoining Seventh Street bars—owned by brothers Tom and Derek Brown—will close temporarily this month.
The occasion is Tales of the Cocktail, the boozy convention held each July at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Along with seminars, tasting events, and other stumble-inducing events, the conference hosts an important industry awards ceremony known as the Spirited Awards. This year, Columbia Room is a contender for Best American Cocktail bar, competing against Anvil Bar in Houston, Clover Club in Brooklyn, and Los Angeles’s the Varnish. When the winner is announced on Saturday, July 28, nearly 20 Passenger/Columbia Room staffers will be in NOLA cheering on the little libations lounge.
Both bars will be closed starting July 25, reopening on the 29th. In an unrelated honor, Columbia Room was counted among Playboy's Best Bars this year. “Owner Derek Brown is one of the friendliest and smartest barmen ever to shake one up,” says Playboy. Cheers to that.
The scorching temperatures are bad enough—not to mention fierce storms causing the lights (and A/C) to fail for hundreds of thousands of people. The power companies may be dragging their feet, but fortunately the bars and restaurant have your back. Here are six deals popping up today to help you beat the heat, from cheap drinks to summery dishes.
Half-Price Iced Tea and Lattes at Bayou Bakery
Until the power is back in Arlington, chef-owner David Guas is filling 20-ounce glasses with half-price pours of hibiscus-ginger iced tea and basil-mint lattes. Factor in ample seating and free wi-fi, and you may have just found your new office.
Unlimited Refills at Dino
Forget super-size sodas—the Dino crew are pouring limitless glasses of nonalcoholic house-made drinks while the weather stays unreasonably hot, such as grapefruit fizzes, ginger ale, and local blackberry or strawberry limeade. They’re also waiving the $3 fee for their purified still and sparkling water.
Frozen Rooftop Cocktails at Donovan House
As if you needed another incentive to sip poolside drinks on this swank Kimpton Hotel rooftop, the bartenders are mixing up $5 frozen Hurricanes and Dark and Stormy cocktails. Get yours during happy hour this week, 5 to 7 PM (except for the Fourth of July).
Peaches ’n’ Rosé at Fiola
Head to the bar for a light special during lunch and dinner this week: balsamic-drizzled peach salad with basil and toasted hazelnuts alongside a cold glass of Chateau La Tour Petale de Rose, which is typically only sold by the bottle. The duo is $28 per person.
Drink Special at Johnny’s Half-Shell
Global warming brings something positive for once with the special Climate Change cocktail, offered all week for $5. The icy combination of grapefruit-infused vodka and a splash of cranberry is only available on the covered courtyard terrace, where you’ll appreciate its meaning even more.
Margaritas for $2 at Tackle Box
When the mercury rises, dispel dreams of moving to Alaska with $2 margaritas at Tackle Box in Georgetown. Owner Jonathan Umbel is offering the deal any time the temperature hits above 90 degrees, which pretty much means until September.
A BAR at Avenue Suites—that's what it’s called—had its first night of service last night, says bar manager Brennan Adams, an alum of Richard Sandoval’s Masa14 and El Centro D.F. Garen Minton is the chef; he previously toiled under Top Cheffers Bryan Voltaggio (at Volt) and Mike Isabella (at Graffiato).
It’s a small-plates spot with an indoor lounge that accommodates 44 and a patio with 35 more seats. “We’re trying to sell it as a happy hour spot,” says Adams. “I’m not trying to do the Gibson. The idea is to put out fun craft cocktails at a good value.” An added enticement: All the wines by the bottle are available by the glass if customers commit to buying two glasses. Cocktails include the Midnight in Paris, with sparkling brut, St. Germain, lime juice, and chili-grenadine syrup; and the Clooney: Old Forester bourbon, apple and cherry cider, Carpano Antica, and orange bitters. Adams will also feature a fresh “patio punch” that will change up throughout the summer.
Minton’s limited menu will include chilled corn and crab chowder with cucumber with crème fraîche; kumquat, prosciutto, and maple-yogurt flatbread; seared tuna with rye croutons and sesame-ginger slaw; and panini. The daily happy hour currently features $5 wines, a $6 specialty cocktail, and $4 punch and select beers. During soft opening, it will be offered from 5 to 7; those hours will change to 4 to 7 next Wednesday.
A BAR at Avenue Suites. 2500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-333-8060.