With an unkempt mop of long, brown hair covering his eyes and a calm, somewhat shy disposition, Rasika bartender Jason Strich, 26, could easily pass for the drummer of a rock band. Unlike the unfair reputation that precedes most drummers, however, Strich has been getting nothing but accolades from patrons and fellow bartenders for his cocktail menu. That’s no small feat for this Atlanta native, considering that he took over bartending duties at a spot made popular by well-loved local cocktail guru Gina Chersevani.
“I knew I was coming into a place that had a reputation,” says Strich, “so I had to step it up and make sure I didn’t bring down the menu.”
Since moving to DC nine months ago and landing a job at Rasika a few days later, Strich has been honing his skills behind the bar. A month into the job, he already had a roster of original cocktails.
“Back in Atlanta, I’d help friends who were opening restaurants with their cocktails menus or develop certain drinks for spirit promotions,” says Strich, “but I never did anything very interesting until I got here.”
Interesting, like . . . ?
“There’s an alcoholic root-beer float on the menu for which I make my own root beer,” he says. “It’s a favorite”
The dessert drink is a combination of vanilla ice cream, bourbon and of course, root beer.
Strich explains: “The idea for it came from a joke. I was talking with some friends about this bar that always puts a dark-rum float on every drink, and I just thought I’d joke around and put a bourbon float on something. It then ended up turning into an actual drink.”
Another interesting item on Rasika’s cocktail menu is a pomegranate pisco sour, a variation on the staple South American drink that, at least initially, seems out of place in an Indian restaurant. The cocktail’s nod to Eastern cuisine comes from the use of Domaine de Canton, a French liqueur that counts ginger as one of its main ingredients.
“Canton’s a fairly sweet spirit, so its usually used for flavoring,” explains Strich. “I wanted to use it as base instead, so I started thinking of a drink where it could work, and a pisco sour just came to mind.”
Watch Strich make the ginger-pomegranate pisco sour in our video and make sure to get the recipe below.
Ginger-Pom Pisco Sour
Jason Strich, Rasika
2 ounces Domaine de Canton
1 ounce Macchu Pisco
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
Splash of pomegranate juice
1 egg white
Shake all ingredients without ice. Add ice and shake again. Strain over fresh ice. Add a mist of Peychaud’s bitters and garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Check out more videos of local bartenders making their favorite drinks here.