Firefly’s bar supervisor, Alice Gaber, blushes slightly when asked how she ended up in DC. “I moved here for a boy,” she says, embarrassed. The relationship didn’t last, but Gaber stuck around. Her experience working at a brewpub in Texas—where she worked while getting a philosophy degree from Rice University—helped her land a managing job at the Middle Eastern restaurant Skewers in Dupont Circle. There, she caught the cocktail-making bug.
“I became frustrated with the standard cocktail list provided by the large liquor distributors,” she says. “I thought it would be nice to incorporate the flavors of our Middle Eastern menu—apricots, almonds, and rose water—into the drink list as a complement.”
From Skewers, Gaber moved on to Poste, where, she explains, bartenders were routinely assigned a liquor around which to concoct a drink. This encouraged her to play with classic recipes and more innovative flavor combinations. After a year and a half at Poste, Gaber switched over to Firefly, where she’s been since.
As bar supervisor, Gaber comes up with the cocktail menu, which changes seasonally and usually features five to eight drinks. Some of Gaber’s favorite ingredients include aromatic spices, peaches, rosemary, and grapefruit. “Anything that’s fresh from the farmers market, really” she says. “I just want people to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables as much as I do.”
The Poison Ivy cocktail combines Belvedere vodka with muddled blueberries, and the Catatonic mixes a melon-infused vodka with tonic. But it’s the Opal, a drink based on a chai-tea latte, that Gaber calls her personal favorite. To make the Opal, Gaber infuses 10 Cane rum with a combination of spices including cinnamon sticks, cardamom, star anise, and nutmeg.
Watch our video of Gaber making an Opal, and get the recipe so you can make the cocktail at home.
Alice Gaber, Firefly
1¼ ounces spice-and-tea infused 10 Cane Rum
½ ounce heavy cream
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon black tea (Earl Grey)
Check out last week's VideoBuzzed with the Palace of Wonders' Priscilla Jerez!