After her sophomore year at the University of Maryland, Gina Chersevani begged her parents to let her go to a summer bartending school. “It was fake school,” she laughs. “The only thing I learned was to mix a drink the same way, every time.”
Now Chersevani, 31, is the mastermind behind cocktails at the five Northern Virginia restaurants owned by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group: Evening Star Cafe, Rustico, Vermilion, Tallula, and EatBar, where she’s based. She’s often in the kitchen quizzing chefs and testing new drinks—cooking down fruit, making purées in a Vita-Prep, rolling out ribbons of alcoholic strawberry-and-coriander “fruit leather” with a pasta cutter.
Chersevani, whose father is a chef, recently debuted a summer drink that took two years to perfect. “My baby lives in a tray,” she says, displaying an ice tray filled with frozen cubes of Tuscan sangría made of vin santo, Chianti, lemons, limes, and oranges.
Tableside or at the bar, she stacks a few of the cubes in a glass and pours wine—red or white—over them from a carafe. “The choice of wine makes it a completely different drink,” she says. “Or it’s great with gin and a splash of Champagne. Then it’s a cocktail.”
Frozen Sangria is available at EatBar, 2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-778-9951.
This appeared in the July, 2008 issue of The Washingtonian.