Holiday drinking: It’s not excessive, it’s festive! Here are five great recipes to try, whether you want to impress friends with a few cocktails or are whipping up punch for a party.
Mazel Tov cocktail from DGS Delicatessen
Toast Hanukkah dinner with this sparkling sip, which gets floral notes from sloe gin (or Averell Damson plum gin liqueur, if you can find it) and lavender syrup.
Spiced Swedish punch from Todd Thrasher
The Swedes know their booze, as does Todd “Liquid Savant” Thrasher. Put the two together and you have an impressive, party-worth punch.
Sparkling pomegranate cocktail
This is my holiday go-to: easy to make, fairly potent, but not so strong that wine-drinking friends will shy away. The pomegranate seeds bob up and down with the bubbles, which is like a little fruit party in a glass.
Cape cobbler from Micah Wilder
If there’s any leftover cranberry sauce kicking around from a holiday dinner, this is your cocktail. The bourbon-based sip is also delicious, so it’s worth splurging on a fresh container of the red stuff.
Ben Franklin’s Milk Punch
The America Eats Tavern bar team helped rediscover this brandy-based punch. It’s much lighter than eggnog—no heavy cream, less sugar—and can be stored for long lengths at room temperature.
And for a little nibble…
Bacon-roasted pecans from Ripple
Party guests will eat this savory snack like peanuts. Or pecans roasted with Benton’s bacon, which are far superior.
Jewish holidays have a wonderful culinary reputation, and rightly so. But drinking? Not so much—unless you like Manischewitz. To remedy that, we asked DGS Delicatessen beverage director Brian Zipin for a festive Rosh Hashanah sip.
This rum-based refresher uses two fruits traditionally found in Jewish New Year festivities: apples and pomegranates. Don't worry about deseeding the latter, which can be tricky; Pom juice serves as the base for a tasty pomegranate syrup. Zipin likes rum for holiday cocktails, as many varieties are already kosher. L'Chayim!
Makes 1 cocktail
1¾ ounces Appleton Estate V/X Rum
1½ ounces organic apple juice
1½ ounces pomegranate syrup (see recipe below)
½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 drops Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters
Optional: lemon wheel to garnish
Shake all ingredients and serve over ice in a wine glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Makes 2 cups
2 cups pomegranate juice, such as Pom brand
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon pomegranate molasses, found in Middle Eastern groceries and some Whole Foods
½ teaspoon orange flower water, found in Middle Eastern groceries and specialty shops like Dean & Deluca
Heat juice slightly over medium, just enough to allow other ingredients to dissolve easily. Stir in remaining ingredients, allow to cool, bottle, and refrigerate. The syrup keeps for two weeks.
Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.
City Tap House beer director Andy Farrell isn’t a snob when it comes brews.
“The way I feel about summertime beer is that it’s hot outside, so drink what makes you happy and cools you down,” he says. “Ice-cold Miller High Life is a hell of a thing on a hot summer day.”
In addition to the “Champagne of beers,” we asked Farrell to recommend some of his favorite all-American suds for Fourth of July grill-outs. You can find most at Whole Foods or a liquor store with a better-than-average selection.
You want: A brew that goes well with barbecue.
Try: An American IPA, like Terrapin Beer Company RecreationAle (Athens, Georgia)
“You have all kinds of rich sauces, big flavors,” says Farrell. “I’m usually a fan of using your beer as a palate cleanser in this case.” Hoppy IPAs also pair well with tangy sides such as slaw and potato salad, and are typically lower in alcohol, so you can drink a few over the course of a ’cue.
You want: An easy-drinking beer with seafood.
Try: Port City Brewing Company Optimal Wit (Alexandria, Virginia)
“This is a great wheat if you’re not into hoppy beers, and you want something easy, clean, and bright,” says Farrell. He recommends the citrusy brew with seafood dishes, such as crabcakes and lobster. Want a little more hop? Try Port City’s Downright Pils. “Pils are hoppy on the front with a crisp, clean finish,” says Farrell. “They’re made for eating, the ultimate palate cleanser.”
You want: A robust, unusual brew.
Try: A German-style rauchbier, like Mad Fox Rauchbier (Falls Church, Virginia)
“If you really want to get crazy outside the box for your barbecue, try a German-style smoked lager,” says Farrell. “It’s like drinking bacon-beer.” If you can’t find the local version—it’s a seasonal item on Mad Fox’s list—make an exception to the American rule and try German Aecht Schlenkerla. The brewery specializes in smoked lagers, which Farrell says pair best with fatty, rich dishes like smoked pork butt and ribs.
You want: A crisp, fruity sip.
Try: A European-style radler, like Sixpoint Brewery Rad (Brooklyn, New York)
This style of beer, which literally means “cyclist” in German, originated in Europe as a biker’s drink: golden ale mixed with fresh fruit juice for a refreshing, low-alcohol thirst quencher. “They’re really bright, citrusy, and fresh,” says Farrell. If you’re not sticking within US borders, he also likes Stiegl Grapefruit Radler from Austria.
You want: A classy keg.
Try: Atlas Brew Works Rowdy Rye (Washington, DC)
Kegs don’t necessarily mean sticking to collegiate quantities of Bud. “If you’re going to invest in a keg, go local. That way you can ensure freshness,” says Farrell, who recommends calling nearby breweries or wholesalers (you can browse producers in our local beer guide). Even if you don’t know what exact beer you want, brewers can be helpful in recommending a variety that meets your style. Fitting for the Fourth, Farrell likes Atlas’s Rowdy Rye. “It’s an awesome food beer in general, and really complements barbecue. It has a nice spice, but it’s not bitter.”
You don’t have to hit the beach to have fun this Fourth of July weekend. Restaurants and bars throughout Washington are celebrating with outdoor barbecues, pool parties, special brunches, all-day happy hours, and more. And if you’re planning on heading down to the Mall or the Georgetown waterfront to watch the fireworks, make sure you pack a picnic.
BARBECUES AND PARTIES
Poolside barbecue at Art and Soul
415 New Jersey Ave., NW
Fancy a dip? The Liaison Capitol Hill throws a rooftop pool party with all-American eats from Art and Soul—think burgers, hot dogs, and corn on the cob. Tickets ($35) get you all-day access to the hotel pool and a limited view of the fireworks (food and drinks are priced individually).
Patio barbecue at Cafe du Parc
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Celebrate America’s birthday with a block party-style feast before hitting the fireworks at this French bistro in the Willard InterContinental. The kitchen grills up hamburgers, hot dogs, and vegetarian wraps from noon to 8 on the patio, while you can also purchase $15 picnic lunches to go to from the à-la-carte menu.
All-you-can-eat cookout at Cashion’s Eat Place
1819 Columbia Rd., NW
Enjoy homestyle favorites such as slow-roasted pork shoulder, corn dogs, and coleslaw at Cashion’s all-you-can-eat cookout on July 4. Service runs from 2 to 6 or whenever food runs out, so come early and hungry—the restaurant will not be open for regular dinner service. Tickets ($40) are required for the party and include a cocktail.
No-cover party and boozy pops on the DNV Rooftop
1155 14th St., NW
One of the best roof top pool bars in DC revisits its “freedom from cover charges” bash on July Fourth. Look for the regular, individually priced menu of Asian-inspired eats from Zentan like pork belly bao buns, tamarind-beef tacos, and Jon Harris’s cocktails. Another plus: boozy red, white, and blue popsicles. There’s no direct view of the fireworks, but you can catch them on an outdoor screen. The doors open at noon, and it’s best to get there early for a space.
Boozy popsicles and deejays at the Gibson
2009 14th St., NW
Hit this 14th Street cocktail bar’s back patio for alcoholic popsicles and tunes from DJ Jazmine and DJ Eskimo from noon to 8 (no-reservation admission is free, pops are $6). You can pad the stomach with $1 veggie burgers and hot dogs.
’Cue and tunes from Hill Country
401 F St., NW; 410 Seventh St., NW
Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue at the National Building Museum opens from 2 to 9 on July 4 with the regular menu of barbecue eats and live music by Jeremy Steding and the Slim Kings (free admission; food and drink priced individually). Should you decide to head inside, the Penn Quarter restaurant serves special cocktails like a watermelon-vodka “watermelon crawl,” and throws a free post-fireworks show by Jonny Grave and the Tombstones at 9:30.
AmeriCan Drink Dependence Day at Jack Rose
2007 18th St., NW
Nothing says freedom like inexpensive canned beer, and you’ll find plenty of it during Jack Rose’s rooftop party. Flying Dog supplies $4 Snake Dog IPA and Easy IPA from noon to 5 ($5 from 5 until close) as well as $5 to $6 drafts alongside food specials. Another party July 3 features a Sam Adams tap takeover, more inexpensive pours, and $4 beer snow cones.
Unlimited punch and half-smokes at Lincoln
1110 Vermont Ave., NW
Starting early on Monday, June 30, you’ll find specials on American beers including $3 PBR, $5 Jack’s Hard Cider, and $6 Port City Pilsner. On July 4 the party includes unlimited drinks from the “emancipation punch bowl” and a barbecue menu ($30 adults; $15 kids under 12).
Roof-deck barbecue at 1905
1905 Ninth St., NW
Hit the deck at this Shaw bistro and bar for an outdoor bash from 3 to 10 featuring 3 Stars beer, and grilled fare such as burgers and ribs. Tickets ($15; $20 at the door while available) include either two gratis beers or a choice of protein and two sides. Extra beers and food are $5.
First Annual Freedom Fest at Republic
6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park
Republic hosts an al fresco beer and barbecue festival from 11 to 7 featuring live music from Yamomanem and Human Country Jukebox. More than 25 local brews will be on tap, along with cookout classics like slow-smoked pork, deviled eggs, and corn on the cob. Tickets include free-flowing beer and food, and run $35 for a four-hour pass (11 to 3 or 3 to 7), or $50 for the whole day. Those looking to just swing by can grab $1 oysters in the tent outside the restaurant.
Patio party at 701
701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
The Penn Quarter restaurant opens its outdoor patio for an Independence Day cookout. An à-la-carte menu features starters and sides such as green eggs and ham and Mexican grilled corn for $4 to $8, and heartier barbecue fare like pulled-pork sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs for $8 to $15. The 701 dining room is also open for regular business from 4 to 10.
Dinner and dancing cruise aboard Spirit and Odyssey Cruises
600 Water St., SW
Skip the crowds on the Mall and catch the fireworks from the water aboard these sister vessels, which host dinner cruises on July 4. The Odyssey trip starts at 6 and includes a three-course meal, open bar, and dancing ($275). The Spirit ride involves a dinner buffet, open bar, and deejays ($200). Both offer full views of the light show and end at 11:30.
All-you-can-eat and $1 oysters at Teddy & the Bully Bar
1200 19th St., NW
Just a couple of blocks from Dupont Circle, this presidential-themed eatery has a whole lineup of specials for the holiday. Stop in between 2 PM and 1 AM for $1 oysters, happy hour specials, $8 cocktails, and an all-you-can-eat menu of grilled fare, salads, sides and desserts for $32 per person ($16 for kids 12 and under).
1308 G St., NW
Show your stripes with Astro’s picnic basket ($36), which includes eight pieces of fried chicken, three USA doughnuts (vanilla with raspberry drizzle and blueberries), three chocolate birthday cake doughnuts, and one pint of potato salad. The picnic feeds four and is available for pickup on July 4 from 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Place your order online, e-mail email@example.com, or call 202-809-5565.
414 H St., NE
Take your Fourth of July feast to go with a fried-chicken bucket ($40) from Boundary Road. The picnic-ready package includes eight pieces of fried chicken, watermelon salad, potato salad, and cookies for four, and must be reserved by Thursday, July 3. Call 202-450-3265 to place your order, then pick up at the restaurant on the Fourth.
277 S. Washington St., Alexandria
Society’s Fair BBQ bag for four ($75) comes with cookout essentials like pulled pork, barbecue chicken, coleslaw, honey cornbread, and potato salad. Reserve online or call for availability. Bags can be picked up at the Alexandria store from Thursday at 11 until Friday at 2.
1612 14th St., NW
Fried chicken lovers can pick up some of the best in town when preordering Pearl Dive’s crispy bird buckets. The $35 deal includes six pieces of dark-meat chicken, German-style potato salad, slaw, jalapeño corn muffins, and blueberry hand pies. Orders must be received 24 hours in advance.
3222 M St., NW
Stop by this Georgetown bocce and bowling restaurant for a game and some takeout before watching the fireworks from the waterfront. The Italian fare includes sandwiches and party platters like Italian grinders and a roast turkey cobb.
EatWell DC restaurants
All five of EatWell DC’s restaurants serve brunch on July 4, including the Heights, the Pig, Commissary, Logan Tavern, and Grillfish. Offers vary by location, from $1 oysters and $5 American drafts at Grillfish to a swine-centric barbecue menu at the Pig.
1238 H St., NE
Sip cocktails and munch on brisket hash, sourdough French toast, and eggs Benedict as part of this Belgian gastropub’s special Firecracker Brunch. At 4 PM, Granville turns into a day-drinking haven until the fireworks at 9.
2007 14th St., NW
A limited brunch menu runs from 11 to 6 for all your egg-and-mimosa needs. Hit the upstairs roof deck before or after for boozy snow cones, available starting at noon.
Each of Richard Sandoval’s six DC establishments offer unlimited brunch for patriotic patrons, including Masa 14, both El Centro D.F. 14th Street and Georgetown, Ambar, Toro Toro, and Zengo. The $35 feast includes all-you-can-drink cocktails, wine, and beer, and never-ending dishes. Flavors vary by eatery, from Latin-Asian-style drinks and eats at Masa to Balkan fare at Ambar.
SPECIAL HAPPY HOURS
613 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
The Capitol Hill bourbon bar is serving up an all-American menu featuring lobster rolls, Chicago-style hot dogs, and deep-fried apple pies. Happy hour starts at 4 PM, with $3 Bud and $5 American bourbons and whiskeys.
3115 14th St., NW
Boozy red, white, and blue floats are offered all day ($9), with cooling combinations such as gin, St. Germain, bubbly, and sorbet. The regular happy hour menu runs 3 to 7.
4001 Campbell Ave., Arlington
A tri-colored brew, $8 cocktails, and food specials for the entire holiday weekend will be available at Capitol City Brewery’s Arlington location. Grab a burger-and-beer combo or a wing-and-beer combo and get Capitol City Core Four beer included. Members of the military receive 10 percent off.
1904 14th St., NW
Policy starts the weekend on Thursday with an all-night happy hour, including a $5 food menu and other drink specials. On Friday and Saturday, pair a cocktail with items from the Patriotic menu: pulled-pork sliders or fried chicken drizzled in honey.
8226 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring
Kick-start your weekend with an early happy hour at Urban Butcher, starting at 3 on Thursday. The Silver Spring market/restaurant is also serving brunch on the Fourth from 11:30 AM to 5 PM, with happy hour running all day.
Trying to decide between feasting and partying on New Year’s Eve? Luckily you don’t have to. The following restaurants mix both, offering special eats, live music, bottomless bubbly, costumed soirees, and more. Just make sure to book reservations before it's too late.
Roberto Donna whips up a four-course meal (think Buffalo mozzarella with caviar and lobster gnocchi) starting at 9:30, while a DJ starts spinning at 10 for dancing until the early morning. [Event page]
Details: The dinner and party is $60 per person (otherwise a la carte until 8). Wine pairings are pretty affordable at $25 and $35.
Penn Quarter’s newest beer-heavy restaurant pairs a four-course menu with an open bar after-party from 10 to close. Dishes include the likes of kale-pomegranate salad and bucatini with rabbit bolognese. [Event page]
Details: Those who opt for the menu ($50 per person) from 5 to 11 can add the $50 open-bar option (regularly $75 without dinner).
Channel Bourbon Street on 14th Street with a New Orleans-inspired fete that includes three or four-course menus, a DJ, and a gratis glass of bubbly for the second seating. [Event page]
Details: The 6:30 seating with a three-course menu is $39 per person, while the second at 9:30 offers four courses for $59.
All three locations of José Andrés’s Spanish spot serve unlimited tapas from the New Year’s tasting menu after 8 (earlier seatings are a la carte). After 10 a DJ starts spinning in DC, while those in Bethesda and Crystal City can dance to a live band. [Event page]
Details: The tasting menu is $90 in DC, and $85 in Bethesda and Crystal City.
Go old-school with a Love Boat Cruise-themed party with live music from Yacht Rock Schooner, an international buffet, open bars, and more. [Event page]
Details: Tickets start at $125.
You'll find Russian Santa Claus, karaoke, a costume contest, caviar, and President Putin's official New Year's address all under one roof. [Event page]
Details: Three package options for bubbly and caviar start at $150, with a 9 o'clock New Year's dinner menu included in all.
Book after 9 for a prix fixe menu with dishes like duck confit steamed buns and drunken adobo pork. What makes this a party? The option of bottomless Champagne service for $40. [Event page]
Details: There’s more casual options early on, but the post-9 pm “premium” menu is $75, with the option of bottomless champagne.
Ashok Bajaj’s American brasserie celebrates 2014 with a three-course menu for the second seating, including dishes like butter-poached lobster and roasted duck, plus a DJ for dancing.
Details: The set menu is $100 (it’s a la carte before 8).
Details: Tickets start at $175 per person.
Head to Bethesda row for a Speakeasy Soiree, including a three-course dinner, poker, live entertainment, and more. [Event page]
Details: Packages vary, starting at $78 for a reservation after 6:30 (early-birds can get dinner for $45, but it doesn’t include the party).
This retro diner-bar tucked behind the 9:30 Club goes punk rock for New Year’s eve with a DJ, Champagne toast, and regular dinner menu (including boozy milkshakes!) until 2.
Details: That’s it! No cover here.
Get a taste of Venice on the Hill with this Venetian Masquerade, which includes a three-course menu with dishes like truffle-ricotta ravioli and foie gras-topped veal tenderloin. Head up to the lounge after for the masked party and roulette. [Event page]
Details: You can opt for just dinner or the party (which starts at 8:30), but the combination is $79.
Those looking to feast will find five and seven-course tasting menus at 6 and 8:30, plus "live action stations," a DJ, and Champagne toast. [Event page]
Details: The two menus are $125 and $150 per person, plus optional wine pairings.
1200 19th St., NW; 202-872-8700
Party presidentially with unlimited cocktails, dinner and dessert buffets, and DJ Huck Finn (Tom Sawyer is jealous). [Event page]
Details: Packages vary by ticket, but you’ll have to buy “gold” ($110 per person) for dinner.
La Fête Rouge (i.e. Red Party) brings options of three and six-course menus, red-hued everything, and surprise entertainment. [Event page]
Details: The first seating, 5:30 to 6:30, is for the three-course ($84 per person), while the second from 8:30 to 9:30 includes the more elaborate menu ($145 per person).
This U Street neighborhood bar does it up for New Year’s with an open-bar Champagne party on the (heated) outdoor plaza, and a five-course menu with optional wine pairings in the restaurant. [Event page]
Details: Seatings for the dinner are at 6 and 9 ($65 and $75, respectively). The party is regularly $75, but is $50 for dinner guests.
In case you haven’t heard, pomegranate seeds are good for you. Funny enough, so is sharing delicious drinks with friends. In the spirit of both: my go-to holiday cocktail from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day. It looks festive (and kinda fancy), goes down smooth, and is potent enough to satisfy your booze tooth without tasting overtly alcoholic (so yes, drinker beware). The recipe is very similar to a classic French 75, with the gin-soaked pomegranate seeds as an extra treat.
Another perk of this recipe: It’s budget-adaptable. If you’re splurging for cocktails a deux, Hendrick’s gin and true Champagne are hard to beat. When I’ve whipped up a batch for a holiday party, moderately priced Citadelle and Prosecco make tasty substitutes. The key is to use a lightly flavored or floral gin versus a herbaceous one. Regardless of your alcohols, slightly sweet Meyer lemon juice is the ideal seasonal citrus.
The only thing daunting about this formula may be seeding the pomegranate. Fortunately, we have an instructive video for that.
Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktail
2 ounces lightly flavored gin, such as Hendrick’s or Citadelle
½ ounce simple syrup*
½ ounce lemon juice, preferably Meyer lemon in season
About 6 ounces Prosecco or Champagne
1 tablespoon fresh pomegranate seeds
Optional: a lemon twist for garnish
Pour the first three ingredients into an ice-filled shaker and strain into a Champagne flute or coupe.
Add the pomegranate seeds, and top off with the bubbly. Add the lemon twist, if using.
* Don’t let specialty stores lure you into buying $12 bottles of plain “bar syrup.” It’s called simple syrup for a reason: put equal parts sugar and water in a small pot (say ½ cup of each), and let it sit over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Chill it before mixing your cocktail, and keep it stored in the fridge.
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken offers “decorate your own doughnut” boxes, and does most of the heavy lifting—or baking, in this case. The kit comes with three vanilla-glazed doughnuts, a piping bag of chocolate glaze, and Halloween-themed sprinkles ($10 each). Preorder through Thursday (recommended) by calling 202-809-5565 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free meals for spirited kids
Dress your kids in their Halloween best and head to Mi Cocina in Chevy Chase for free kids’ meals for any costumed child under 12 through Thursday.
This Sunday marks Bastille Day, the French national holiday, and there are plenty of places to sip Champagne, eat fromage, and get into the Gallic spirit all week long.
Provençal feast at Mintwood Place
When: Tuesday through Sunday
Chef Cedric Maupillier shows his patriotism by whipping up dishes from his native Toulon. Order à la carte or splurge on a five-course feast featuring dishes such as dorade with braised fennel and lamb saddle with ratatouille and squash blossoms. $65 per person; $100 with wine pairings.
Let them eat cake bar at the Phillips Collection
When: Thursday 5 to 8:30 at the Phillips Collection; Malmaison after-party 9 to 2
Brightest Young Things teams up with the gallery for an art-filled soiree, the Unstill Life. Come for cubism-inspired cocktails, absinthe, and an all-you-can-eat cake bar; stay for a gallery talk and tour and an after-party at the newly opened Malmaison.
Need a great cocktail for your Memorial Day party? This simple and refreshing drink from Zentan barkeep Josh Berner is just the thing, thanks to a make-ahead formula that requires few ingredients and fewer steps.
To start, Berner infuses Beefeater 24 gin—you can also sub in Aviation, Hendrick’s, or another brand of your choice—with Mighty Leaf’s chamomile-citron tea. After steeping for three days, the infusion gets mixed with Dolin Blanc vermouth and Aperol for a crisp, refreshing cocktail that still packs a middleweight punch. Once the Donovan House rooftop opens—construction is still wrapping up, but keep your fingers crossed for an end-of-week debut—guests will sip the Negroni-esque libation around the pool. We suggest you do the same.
Livin’ Is Easy
Infuse the gin:
1 liter Beefeater 24 gin (enough for about 20 cocktails), or an alternative such as
Hendrick’s or Aviation
2 tablespoons (or 3 bags) citrus-chamomile tea, like Mighty Leaf chamomile-citron
In an airtight container, mix tea and gin. After one to three days (three is ideal), strain out the tea. Be sure to press the liquid out of the strained tea back into the gin.
Store the infused gin in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.
Make the cocktail:
1½ ounces tea-infused gin
1 ounce Dolin Blanco vermouth
½ ounce Aperol
Stir all ingredients with ice.
Serve on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
If you’re doing it right, buying a bottle of wine for someone is a highly personal gesture. You have to know what your giftee likes—Chardonnay, sparkling wine, dry South African varietals, etc.—and offer something that will fit their tastes while also presenting the chance to try something new. For the wine-drinking mother, a well-chosen bottle is a no-brainer gift. Mom feels special, then buzzed; siblings—petals falling from the sad little bouquets clutched in their fists—shrink in the certain knowledge of your new status as favorite kid forever. (Okay maybe not forever, but certainly through Sunday.)
Great news: This moment of M-Day glory can be achieved by even the most novice of wine purchasers, thanks to this mère-minded list of white and rosé options selected by wine experts around town. The best part? They’re all under $25—less than it costs to order a dozen daffodils to Mom’s door.