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Stop by Jack Rose Dining Saloon after 6 to check it out. By Jessica Voelker

A little head butt. Photograph courtesy of Bols Genever via Facebook.

Beer mashups must be all the rage. Earlier today we posted about Port City’s Revival Stout, a beer brewed with oysters. And tonight in Adams Morgan, Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Bols Genever are presenting their new genever-flavored collab brew, Kopstootje. “Kopstootje,” which translates to “little head butt,” is the word the Dutch use when they want to order a beer and a shot of genever—a malty ancestor to gin that is a staple spirit in the Netherlands. (In Holland, they lean over the bar and take a sip of the genever, then pick up their beer and toast, thus the head-butt thing.) 

Stillwater brewer Brian Strumke and Bols Genever reps Tal Nadari and Jacob Grier will be at Jack Rose Dining Saloon tonight to debut Kopstootje, a beer brewed with rye, wheat, corn, and barley, plus juniper, the classic gin/genever botanical, and five other spices. Rachel Sergi, Jack Rose’s very good bartender, will be making genever cocktails. There will also be other Stillwater brews on hand. Stop by at or after 6 PM.

Posted at 11:51 AM/ET, 03/01/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Food, beer, and wine specials are on discount weekdays at this Gallery Place watering hole. By Jessica Voelker

PS7's, where early evening lounge discounts attract Gallery Place 30-somethings.

Hours: Monday 4 to close, Tuesday through Friday 4 to 7.

Specials: Beer $3 to $4; wine $5 to $6; flatbreads $6.50, burger $5; salami poppers $5.

If you find yourself in Gallery Place on an early evening with a hankering for a drink and a snack, consider the lounge adjacent to Peter Smith’s PS 7’s. I recently stopped in to survey the situation in the aftermath of cocktail mixer Gina Chersevani’s very public departure, and found a bar area full to the brim—with people drinking beer and wine. 

Happy-hour-goers—thirtysomethings-plus for the most part, the ladies in boots and clingy dresses with bold orbicular patterns, the men wearing ties—leaned on windowsills and squeezed around little lounge tables to take advantage of $3 and $4 beer specials and wines discounted to $5 and $6 a glass. I perched grumpily on a sill and prepared for a wait, but soon finagled a seat at the bar, where a friendly young bartender immediately presented me with a bowl of popcorn and a menu of food and drink specials. The snacks on offer include half off flatbreads and the house burger, and salami poppers for $5. The poppers, along with the Nutty Goat flatbread—topped with walnut butter, goat and Gouda cheeses, arugula, and toasted shallots—are just the sort of fatty, rich snacks that taste good with strong drinks, but they do all right alongside a lager and/or a Super Tuscan, too.

Posted at 01:58 PM/ET, 02/29/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Just in time for your weekend drinking: Fernet on draft. By Jessica Voelker

The Passenger's Fernet tap. Photograph courtesy of the Passenger via Facebook.

Fernet Branca is an herbaceous amaro from Italy that has become something of a symbol among craft bartenders. Think of it as the quaffable equivalent of wearing an arm band and curling your mustache. It also is rumored to have magical hangover-curing properties.

A couple of bars in San Francisco have a Fernet tap—Fernet is huge there; watch this video if you don’t believe it, (but don’t blame us if the song becomes irrevocably lodged in your brain)—and there’s at least one place in Boston that has one. In Seattle, star-tender Jamie Boudreau has toyed with the idea of a Fernet tap at his bar Canon. But as far as we and Passenger owner Derek Brown know, the Fernet tap recently installed at the bar he owns with his brother Tom is the first in the Washington area.

Enjoy, but do so with restraint. Fernet’s other magical power is that it can make the world start spinning very suddenly.

Posted at 11:14 PM/ET, 02/24/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The barman built a dream drink-mixing station in his basement. He offers us a look at it, and some advice. By Jessica Voelker

Duane Sylvestre mixes it up in his basement bar. Photographs by Dakota Fine.

For those of us who dream of one day building a tricked-out wet bar in our own home, Duane Sylvestre is a source of considerable inspiration. The Bourbon Steak head bartender has built a fully equipped mixology lab in his finished basement, complete with two fridges, a drainage system, a well, an ice machine, refrigerated wine storage, and a kegerator. And he didn’t even spend very much to do it. Here are his tips for scoring the home bar of your dreams.

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Posted at 10:15 PM/ET, 02/23/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
From the roof of the Rock and Roll Hotel to the streetside patio at Room 11, these watering holes are all serving al fresco tonight. By Anna Spiegel

Perry's is opening its twinkly rooftop bar tonight. Photograph courtesy of Perry's via Facebook.

With the high nearing 70 degrees today, we have one thought on our minds: Where can we get a drink outside? Unfortunately, plenty of patios and roof decks are still locked tight for winter, while newbies like Irish Whiskey, William Jeffrey’s Tavern, and Sixth Engine are still working on their outdoor areas. Fear not: We have the intel on three recently opened al fresco spots for a sneak peak of where to sip this spring, plus 11 more of our favorites that are embracing the unseasonably warm weather with outdoor specials.

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Posted at 12:43 PM/ET, 02/23/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Classic, frozen, and swirled: Here are nine places to pop in for a tequila-based cocktail tonight. By Jessica Voelker

Oyamel's foamy margarita. Photograph by M.K. Tye.

What a week, right? President’s Day, followed by Fat Tuesday, followed by National Margarita Day. Yup, today is National Margarita Day, a time to celebrate a drink with a mysterious history.

At its purest, a margarita is just tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau (or, yes, Triple Sec, but if there’s Cointreau, get that). Any cocktail bar worth its salt rim will make you one of those, but if you’re a fan of fruity, frozen, and/or swirled, you’re in luck: Washington is awash in Mexican and Tex-Mex-themed bars specializing in such drinks.

Alero—U Street 
Alero on U Street has 15 types of margarita available by the glass, half pitcher, and pitcher. During happy hour, a house marg with Jose Cuervo is $5.50.

Cactus Cantina
This large Tex-Mex restaurant by the Cathedral has margaritas flavored with mango, peach, and strawberry. Combine them—Slurpee style—to create a margarita “swirl.” These creations are available by the glass, half pitcher, or whole pitcher; see the full menu here.

Casa Oaxaca
This Adams Morgan Mexican spot is recognizing National Margarita Day by extending its $4.50 happy hour special on flavored ’ritas through 9 PM. It’s also debuting two new flavors tonight: ginger-mango and jicama-cucumber.

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Posted at 11:10 AM/ET, 02/22/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The lounge at Jeffrey Buben’s downtown eatery will host an “exhibition bar station” on weekday evenings. By Jessica Voelker

The lounge at Vidalia. Photograph courtesy of Vidalia via Facebook.

Fans of Vidalia’s happy hour, fear not. The early evening discounts you’ve come to love at Jeffrey Buben’s Southern-inspired eatery—featuring impossibly cheap and delicious snacks (like crayfish hush puppies and pork belly sliders, each two for $3) and discounts on cocktails, beer, and wine—will remain intact.

But beginning February 20, Buben will add an interactive element to happy hour, according to Jacqueline Herrera, a rep for the restaurant. Burners have been installed behind the bar in the lounge, where chefs will craft custom bar bites in front of diners, while sommelier Ed Jenks will mix cocktails, including specialty drinks featuring Southern sodas like Cheerwine, Frostie root beer, RC Cola, Ale-8-One, and Blenheim’s spicy hot ginger ale.

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Posted at 03:41 PM/ET, 02/15/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus an Argyle Winery dinner at Restaurant Eve and a new brew from DC Brau. By Anna Spiegel

Restaurant Eve hosts Oregon winery Argyle this week. Photograph courtesy of Restaurant Eve.

If you’re in the Dupont area this morning, get over to the Washington Hilton for free coffee and breakfast goodies during the grand opening party of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. You know this California-based chain from paparazzi photos of celebrities exiting its various branches, but it’s the Bean’s first outpost in DC.

Ready for the best Valentine’s Day ever? No? Our ultimate Valentine’s Day Guide features recipes for Cork’s avocado bruschetta, steak with red wine butter from Bourbon Steak, and a chocolate mousse designed by Birch & Barley’s pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac. We’ve also got a roundup of the best places to buy chocolates, healthy cocktail ideas . . . and a lot more.

H Street watering hole the Pug turns five this week, and there’s plenty to celebrate at the charming dive. Start off today with $2 Natty Bohs, then descend into a week of debauchery with the release of DC Brau’s “Wings of Armageddon” on Wednesday; “liberally poured” whiskey shots on Friday; and a kid-friendly brunch on Saturday so you can bring the whole fam. Your hangover will be for a good cause—partial proceeds go to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

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Posted at 11:32 AM/ET, 02/15/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
A not-so-traditional sherry cocktail at Tabard Inn. By Jessica Voelker

At the Tabard Inn, Chantal Tseng's not-so-traditional sherry cocktail gets a shot of tequila. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The first sherry cocktail that ever touched the lips of Adam Bernbach, bar manager at Proof and Estadio, was the work of another notable local barman: Derek Brown, who owns the Columbia Room and the Passenger cocktail bars in DC. "It was a variation on an Adonis"--a mix of dry sherry, sweet vermouth, and bitters--recalls Bernbach, and the drink made an impression.

Although José Andrés's Jaleo was the area's first sherry-cocktail destination, Bernbach is now Washington's foremost mixer of sherry-enhanced concoctions. He uses dry finos, aromatic amontillados, and dark, rich olorosos in place of base spirits and in supporting roles, sweetening or bittering up drinks as necessary.

Sherry, which begins life as a white-wine grape, hails from the southwest of Spain, in and around the city of Jerez. After vintners press and ferment the fruit, they fortify the wine and age it in barrels, often using the solera system, mixing old batches with new. For years, the Spanish shipped cheap stuff to the United States--that's how it earned its reputation as Grandma's super-sweet postprandial sipper.

Today, wine and liquor stores stock an array of sherries, making it easy to experiment at home. A good place to start is this cocktail--which pairs amontillado sherry with aged tequila and Drambuie--from Chantal Tseng at DC's Tabard Inn.

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Posted at 12:19 PM/ET, 02/10/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Bolivian barman relives the career-defining night at Zaytinya that left him covered in cocktail. By Jessica Voelker

JP Caceres poses at Dirty Martini. The Dupont bar is a current client of his cocktail consultancy business. Photograph by Erik Uecke.

See Also:

Worst Shift Ever: David Fritzler, Beverage Manager at Tryst

Worst Shift Ever: Jeff Faile, Bar Manager at Fiola

Worst Shift Ever: Ellen Cox of Jackie’s Restaurant and Sidebar

“I went to law school, I worked at a desk. It was not for me,” says JP Caceres, a Derek Brown acolyte who owns the Washington-based cocktail consulting business Let’s Imbibe Beverage Consulting.

The Bolivian bartender’s chosen career began when he took a busboy job at Jaleo in the early 2000s. There, he worked his way up while learning English, and when owner José Andrés opened Zaytinya, Caceres moved over to the Penn Quarter restaurant as a barback and service bartender.

It was there that he had his worst shift ever.

“I had worked at Zaytinya for about three months when a club opened up around the corner called VIP. All the pretty boys and all the pretty girls would come very nicely dressed for the club, but they wanted to have dinner or drinks first. And on this particular Saturday, we had a little bit of people coming in. It wasn’t too much. Everybody working was just looking at each other like, ‘What else do we do? What else do we clean?’ And the managers, they said to us, ‘We’re going to get busy.’ And we were like, ‘No we’re not. It’s six o’clock.’ So the manager decided to send a couple of bartenders home. Around like 9:30, 10, people start coming in. We’d never seen the restaurant like that! And by 11 o’clock—I don’t have to tell you—it was four deep at the bar. Crazy. 

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Posted at 03:25 PM/ET, 02/02/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()