New Year’s Eve is a day of resolution, reflection . . . and drinking. But the last need not involved a packed, expensive, and sweaty scene. For those drinkers among us who prefer a less insane evening, a smattering of spots are planning low-key New Year’s Eve experiences. So relax, there’s no rule that says you have to fight it out at an open bar this year.
Boundary Stone, a wing-lover’s paradise, will continue its golden tradition of doing absolutely nothing special for New Year’s Eve. (Well, we’ve been told there might be a toast at midnight, but that’s a sort of whim-of-the-evening type thing.)
If smoked meats and whiskey are more your style, then Dupont Circle’s Smoke & Barrel has you covered. The only thing it’s doing to ring in the New Year is keeping a steady supply of succulent barbecue at the ready.
Maddy’s Bar & Grille, which recently added a Logan Circle location, will have a fairly basic night, as well: no cover but a few drink specials.
Glover Park’s game-and-sandwich filled Breadsoda won’t make anyone pay upon entry, but it’s not ignoring the holiday altogether: There will be free games all night, plus a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight.
Columbia Heights favorite Meridian Pint offers a normal night at the bar and a twist in the dining room: Diners can enjoy a three-course prix-fixe meal for $45. After dinner, sidle up to the bar and try not to get overwhelmed by the extensive beer list.
The haven for lovers of Belgian beers and mussels, Granville Moore’s, is doing “absolutely nothing” to ring in the New Year—save, of course, offering a fantastically eclectic beer menu and some of the best mussels in this city.
Georgetown classic Clyde’s welcomes the New Year with its usual food, drinks, and good times. It closes when the ball drops, but that just leaves all of Georgetown at your disposal.
Dupont beer bar the Big Hunt has no cover as usual. The only difference during New Year’s Eve is the deejays that’ll be spinning tracks for all its brew sippers.
One of the newcomers on this list, Central, plans to keep serving its cheese puffs, bacon-and-onion tarts, and the rest of its regular menu for the New Year.
The triple-leveled Black Squirrel is still deciding what to do for the big day, but one thing’s certain: At least two levels will be experiencing a normal evening. A caveat: The bar may instate a cover at around 11:30 to deter those seeking nothing but the free Champagne at the midnight toast.
The Tune Inn, home of stuffed deer heads, PBR, and cheese fries, is closed on Christmas, but is serving up its lowbrow delicacies on New Year’s Eve.
Off the Record, the politico favorite nestled in the Hay-Adams Hotel, will be following standard operating procedure to ring in 2013. As will the Jefferson Hotel’s bar, Quill. The Willard InterContinental’s bar, Round Robin, will also keep on keeping on with its normal service throughout New Year’s Eve.
The perpetually packed Old Ebbitt Grill will be doing what it always does: catering to the hungry and the thirsty late into the evening, long after most restaurants have closed their doors.
If you’re looking for a decent meal but don’t want to decide between a prix-fixe menu and à la carte, Poste will be offering an à-la-carte version of its New Year's Eve tasting menu—along with signature burgers—at the bar.
Dickson Wine Bar is taking things up a notch without taking too heavy a toll on your wallet. You’ll find food and drink specials, music, and a projection screen showing the ball drop—all for no cover.
Every World War I-obsessed writer’s favorite haunt, the Hemingway-inspired Bar Pilar, will have its usual blend of well-made cocktails and tasty small plates, plus tunes from a deejay
Know of other great places to spend a quiet New Year’s Eve? Let us know in the comments section!
When beverage director Brian Zipin was plotting the cocktail list for the newly opened DGS Delicatessen, he focused on drinks that both spoke to the Jewish culture and paired well with the briny, smoky, meaty flavors that are the signature of any good deli.
Thus were born sips like the Mazel Tov: a lightly floral libation topped with Champagne that uses the flavors of plum, frequently found in Judaic cooking. The festive flute is equally tasty sipped on its own as an aperitif, or served alongside latkes topped with smoked salmon or applesauce and sour cream.
The New York-based Averell Damson plum gin liqueur won’t be available in your corner bodega, but you should be able to find it in most specialty liquor stores. If not, Zipin recommends substituting a quality sloe gin, such as Plymouth.
We love Thanksgiving for the leftovers nearly as much as the real deal, but when it comes to that bowl of cranberry sauce, there’s little you can do besides spread it on a sandwich. Until now, that is. We challenged mixologist Micah Wilder—half of the brotherly team behind the creative libations at Pearl Dive/Black Jack and other Black Restaurant Group spots—to concoct a seasonal sip with the tart condiment. The result: a twist on a cobbler—usually a base spirit (often wine; the sherry cobbler is a classic) with a bit of sugar and fruit and lots of crushed ice as in a mint julep.
Here’s the real beauty of this drink: Whether your sauce of choice is a homemade blend or Ocean Spray straight from the can, you can use it to make Wilder’s sweet cranberry syrup. The recipe makes more than you’ll need for a round of cocktails, but the festive flavoring will keep through the holidays, so you can mix it with rye or a nice Highland Scotch for a Christmasy cocktail come December.
Micah Wilder’s Cape Cobbler
(Makes roughly 2 cups of cocktail syrup)
1 cup cranberry sauce
¾ cup honey, such as orange blossom
½ cup water
(Makes 1 cocktail)
6 healthy leaves of mint
2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
¾ ounce apricot liqueur, such as Rothman & Winter brand
½ ounce lemon juice
1 ounce cranberry syrup
2 dashes of orange bitters, preferably Reagan’s
Combine all the syrup ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and stir together until combined. Strain through a fine sieve and let cool.
Add ice cubes to a cocktail shaker until its about half-way full, add mint and gently muddle until the ice crushes and the mint releases aromas. Pour the crushed ice into a julep tin or heavy-bottomed glass.
Shake the rest of cobbler ingredients together and strain over the ice.
Garnish with a sprig of mint, a segment of fruit like an apricot, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
To make this festive, warm drink from Ripple bar manager Josh Berner, you can use store-bought cider or make your own; leftovers can be used for the basis of a tasty spiced nonalcoholic offering, as well.
The cocktail makes use of bright yellow Spanish liqueur Liquor 43 which “is made with 43 herbs and botanicals, hence the name,” says Berner. “The main flavors are of vanilla and citrus, and the spirit adds a lovely vanilla sweetness to the drink, while the lemon juice balances it out with acidity.” At Ripple, Berner uses Gosling’s rum in the cocktail, but says any dark rum with a strong molasses flavor will do nicely.
For the cocktail
1 ounce dark rum
½ ounce Liquor 43
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
3 ounce hot apple cider
1 lemon (for garnish)
For the cider (makes one gallon)
20 apples (Berner uses Gala)
To make the cider, juice apples—“skins, cores, seeds, and all,” says Berner—in a juicer and strain liquid twice through a cheesecloth. For the cocktail, heat the cider over low heat until warmed through. Combine all ingredients in a stemmed glass and stir gently to thoroughly blend flavors. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.
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Now that we’re into our first full week of October, you’re no doubt already planning this year’s Halloween costume and are most likely looking for an occasion to show it off. While there’s certain to be plenty of boozy events heading down the pipeline, here’s the early word on four adult-oriented parties.
It’s National Rum Day, and as we reported earlier this week, Cuba Libre is offering a special: half off rums and rum cocktails during a “Caippy” hour from 4:30 to 6:30 in the bar area. If that doesn’t appeal, consider heading to Bar Pilar, where you can try a Cuba Libre float, one of the greatest things we’ve ever tasted through a straw.
Whatever you do to celebrate the versatile spirit, here are five rum facts likely to impress your fellow drinkers.
1) Generally speaking, rum is a alcohol distillate made “from the fermented juices of sugar cane, sugar cane spirits, sugar cane, or other sugar cane byproducts,” per federal regulations—which also stipulate that to be called rum, the spirit must also demonstrate characteristics of the category and be produced and bottled at certain proofs.
2) Barbados is believed to be the birthplace of rum. Records of the spirit date back to the mid-1600s.
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 Anna Spiegel
Bastille Day is this Saturday, and whether you prefer to drink old-world wines, indulge in buttery delicacies, or dash across the street in a French maid costume, there’s a celebration out there for you.
Party at the Embassy: The International Club cohosts a grande fête at the French Embassy beginning at 7 PM on Friday, probably the swankiest affair held in honor of Bastille Day. Don svelte cocktail or “festive ’20s” attire and get ready for dinner, dancing, an open bar, and a silent auction (tickets are $100 and available online).
Run in Your French Maid Outfit: It wouldn’t be Bastille Day—or Adams Morgan, for that matter—without scantily clad party people running across the street. L’Enfant Café makes it official, closing down Vernon Street for its 6 PM “running of the maids” as well as a blowout party with a beer garden, a food truck pavilion, sandwiches from A.M. Wine Shoppe, deejays, can-can dancers, and a masquerade street ball. Bring $5 for the entrance fee, or buy tickets online. 3 to 11 PM.
Or Fast-Walk With Bread: Paul Bakery and Café in Penn Quarter carb-loads a baton relay during its second annual Baguette Relay Race. Six-person teams (adults race at 10:30 AM, children at 11) walk briskly around the US Navy Memorial; the winner receives a $25 gift certificate to Paul.
It’s not likely to show up on the bar menu any time soon, but ask nicely while reserving your table--and at least three days in advance--and Bourbon Steak bartenders might be able to prepare slices of vodka-filled watermelon for you and your dining companions, says head bartender Duane Sylvestre. Sylvestre and his fellow head bartender Jamie MacBain recently served a more refined version of this frat-house favorite during a cocktail class at the bar, and we thought it would make a great centerpiece for a Fourth of July picnic. It works like this: You poke small holes in the melon, allowing its juices to drain, and vodka fills in the liquid space. It takes about three days to fully infuse the fruit—the best way to do it is in the fridge, but if space is an issue, cover your project with foil or plastic wrap and keep it stored in a cool space.
One final word of warning from Sylvestre: “Sometimes the melon tastes like there’s no booze in it at all, until you take a step. Have no more than two slices, and drink water, water, water, with your watermelon.”