News & Politics

Fall Cocktails: From Clever to Classic

October 2005

With autumn here, summer drinks such as margaritas and Dark and Stormies are giving way to a more warming class of cocktail. Here's what you'll find at local restaurants.

NEW OLD-FASHIONEDS: Tired of the millionth twist on the mojito? Get reacquainted with some classic cocktails. Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria makes a New-Age Gibson, with saffron-infused and carbonated vermouth, chilled Bombay Sapphire gin, and saffron-pickled onions. At the New Orleans-inspired Acadiana, bar manager Scott Clime has put together a drink list "straight out of the 1800s." There's a Sazerac made with rye whiskey and two kinds of bitters. It's poured over a sugar cube that's been soaked in absinthe and singed by a flame. He'll also offer a Bourbon Fizz with a dash of praline. At the Italian bistro Dino in Cleveland Park, nudge your way to the bar and request a Blood and Sand. Dino's take on the Rob Roy–an ice-cold shaker of blended Scotch whiskey, sweet vermouth, orange juice, and maraschino cherry liqueur, garnished with a mission fig–has "a Scotch nose but not a real Scotch flavor," says barmaster Chris Cunningham. "A lot of girls love it." At Franco-Indian Indebleu, where the young and scantily clad linger over $14 mango martinis, bar manager Naveen Sidhu is tinkering with a Manhattan made from bourbon, bitters, and vermouth infused with herbs and spices.

IT'S TEA TIME: Now you can load up on antioxidants while you catch a buzz: expect green tea to make a showing at Vidalia, where sommelier Doug Mohr is playing with a new vodka flavored with citrus and green-tea leaves from Napa's Charbay distillery. The bar at the Topaz Hotel, off Dupont Circle, recommends sipping Zen, a lemongrass-infused green-tea liqueur, chilled and straight up. At the Southern-inflected Palette, look for vodka infused with hints of jasmine, Earl Grey, and peach teas. And at Penn Quarter's Zola, bar manager Ralph Rosenberg plans to spike pots of hot tea with a splash of pisco or sake. This Valentine's Day, Restaurant Eve plans to roll out a hibiscus tea cocktail crowned with warm passionfruit foam.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.