There’s a holiday for just about everything these days. There’s Bunson Burner Day (March 31), National Hugging Day (January 21) and—fittingly— Make Up Your Own Holiday Day (March 26). Now there’s one to really say cheers to— World Cocktail Day. And raise your glass, because it’s today.
World Cocktail Day celebrates the first known instance of the use of the word “cocktail,” which was May 13, 1806 in the Balance, a New York newspaper. To celebrate the holiday, Penn Quarter wine bar Proof hosted a dinner last night that featured cocktails from some of the area’s most creative bartenders, including their own Sebastian Zutant, plus Derek Brown of Komi, and Gina Chersevani of EatBar. Read on for the best moments of the night.
Reason for the buzz: The dinner was a fundraiser for the Museum of the American Cocktail, which opens a permanent exhibit this July in New Orleans.
A very happy hour: The evening kicked off with a cocktail hour that featured five specialty cocktails created just for the event. The drinks included Lady Randolph’s Revenge, a reinvented Manhattan, by John Hogan of Hudson, and the Zenzero Apertivo, a sparkling wine based drink with limoncello, ginger, and absinthe, by Chantal Tseng of the Tabard Inn.
Drink that could be the official cocktail of Ghostbusters: The Tarragon Gin Fizz by Central Michel Richard’s Justin Guthrie that was served during cocktail hour. The neon-green colored drink— Hendrick’s Gin infused with tarragon and lemon juice, then topped off with a tarragon soda that made it the color of Slimer—was far more delicious than the Green Ghost.
Drink that could transport you to a deserted island: PaRappa the Rapper Punch by Adam Bernbach of Bar Pilar. The summery cocktail, named for a Sony PlayStation character, was a mix of Tommy Bahama Gold Rum with Szechuan-pepper and tonka-bean syrup, lime juice, tarragon, and strawberry puree.
Drink for your summer travels: The Puffin de Velay by Rico Wisner of Poste. The Reyka Vodka mixed with sour mix, agave syrup, Vervaine du Velay, and sparkling wine caused one guest to exclaim: “It tastes like Airborne!”
Best way to soak up the cocktails: The five-course dinner by Proof chef Haider Karoum. The menu included a chilled seafood soup, sake-glazed salmon, braised lamb with spring-pea/tarragon risotto, a selection of cheeses, and strawberry/pink-peppercorn shortcake. Each course was paired with a cocktail.
Best black magic cocktail: The Medicine Man by Sebastian Zutant, which was served with the selection of cheeses. Zutant’s brew was a mixture of Woodford Reserve bourbon, Blandy’s Madeira, Lillet Rouge, Lustau East India sherry, Free Brotheres whiskey, and Armagnac bitters stirred in a cauldron and served over a port-soaked prune.
Workout-inducing Cocktail: The Truffled Amaro Flip by Cork’s Tom Brown, which was served with the strawberry /pink-peppercorn shortcake. The drink, a blend of Korbel brandy, Ramazzotti Amaro, egg whites, lemon juice, bitters and truffle oil, required vigorous shaking. When a couple of guests stepped behind the bar to give it a whirl, one said, “this is the hardest workout I’ve had in weeks.”
Best Topper: The Cereza la Fuma by Gina Chersevani of EatBar, which was paired with the braised lamb. The tequila, Lillet Rouge, agave nectar, and lime juice cocktail was topped off with a cherrywood-smoked, white-pepper meringue.
Best swag: A small bottle of Hendrick’s Gin. Bags also included a Finlandia Vodka bottle opener and t-shirt and a Tommy Bahama pen.