What with all the craft distilleries popping up everywhere, new spirits enter the Washington market all the time. One notable newcomer is Angel's Envy bourbon, made by a legend--the longtime Brown-Forman distiller and all-around gentleman Lincoln Henderson. Angel's Envy has shown up on liquor store shelves all over town,* including those at Ace Beverage, Potomac Wine & Spirits, and Harry's Reserve Liquor. While it's not likely to replace your favorite sipping bourbon, it works well in a variety of bourbon cocktails--for advice on toying with Angel's Envy at home, I'd refer you to Jeff Faile over at Fiola.
Jamie MacBain has a pretty classy gig over at the lounge at Bourbon Steak, Michael Mina's restaurant in Georgetown's Four Seasons. Make that two classy gigs--he also does a weekly shift at the Passenger. In his younger years, however, he put in some time slinging beers to college kids in Worcester, Massachusetts. In honor of St. Patrick's Day this weekend, MacBain shared the story of his worst shift ever, which happened to go down on one of the drunkest days of the year.
"It was my first bartending job, and it was St. Patrick's Day. It was at this steakhouse, Cactus Pete's Steakhouse & Saloon. One side was a steakhouse and on the other side was a bar separated by swinging saloon doors. Worcester loves its St. Patrick's Day. The parade would go by the restaurant and we'd take out all the stools; all the bar tables would come out. We opened at 10 AM. So it's, like, 2 PM, and the parade has gone by already. We're packed, and we have police on the exit and entrance on either side. It's standing room only--some of the people have been there since 10. And this fight breaks out at my end of the bar.
By Mary Yarrison
Get at early start on your drinking at Irish Whiskey, which opens at 9 on Saturday. Photographs by Jeff Martin.
Bayou Bakery will open its patio for the first time at 8 AM Saturday and serve up Irish specials including a corned beef po' boy all day. There will also be a crawfish boil beginning at 2 and live music beginning at 6:30. All day long, lucky diners who find gold coins on the patio will be able to turn them in for prizes (think $2 pints, free beignets, and $8 pitchers).
Cafe Dupont will serve brunch beginning at 7 AM, with Taste of Ireland specials such as bangers and mash for $15, in addition to the standard food and cocktail offerings. When Bar Dupont, also in the Hotel Dupont, opens at 11:30, pop over for $10 specialty cocktails like the Peppermint Patrick, made with Jim Beam, caramel Bailey's, crème de menthe, and cream.
Capitol City Brewing Company's two locations will each tap kegs of house-made Irish red ale and Irish dry stout on Saturday; pints will go for $4. The festivities start at 11 with a corned-beef-and-cabbage lunch special, among other things, running all day.
The staff at Eamonn's has created a signature cocktail, the Eamonn's Sour Irish, made with Irish red lemonade and Powers Irish whiskey, in honor of the big day. The place will open early, around 11, to offer this and its standard fish and chips, Guinness, and Smithwick's. Hours may also stay be extended, so stopping by for round two at midnight is not out of the question.
Port City founder Bill Butcher’s latest project, Revival Stout, is a collaboration with Dave Svec and Brad Blymier of War Shore Oyster Company. As Butcher tells it, the War Shore guys—who farm Pungoteague Creek and Battle Creek Oysters in Virginia—approached the brewery after noticing that its products were often available at the same restaurants where they were delivering oysters. Beers and bivalves are frequently paired, so they thought, Why not get them in the same glass?
“Oyster stouts”—dark beers that incorporate oysters in the brewing process—have their origin in the early 1900s British Isles. For Revival, oyster shells are steeped in the brewing water, and then the oysters and liquor are included in the boil, where they essentially disintegrate in the process. So how does it taste? There’s a hint of salinity from the bivalves, but there’s no seafood flavor. What’s left is a rich, savory brew with a smooth texture, perhaps best matched with a raw-bar platter or smoked fish. It will be available on draft beginning April 6—at the brewery for tasting or by the growler, and at select spots around town.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.