Favorite Things: The Columbia Room’s Katie Nelson

The bartender shares her hangover remedy, favorite day drink, best work outfit, and more.

The Columbia Room’s Katie Nelson. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

When it comes to mixing hard liquor with feminine style, few do it better than Katie Nelson, bartender at the Columbia Room in DC’s Mount Vernon Square neighborhood. We checked in with Nelson about her favorite drink, thoughts on vodka, and morning-after pick-me-ups.

Always on the home bar: Plymouth

Cocktail to make at home: Dark and Stormy with
Gosling’s ginger beer or Blenheim ginger ale and a dark rum such as

Cocktail to impress guests: Gin martini. “I
pinch the lemon peel to distribute the oils and then toss it.”

First drink: Whiskey sour.

Liqueur: Chartreuse Green.

Bitters: Peychaud’s.

Brand of tonic: Fever-Tree.

Vodka is . . . : “Tasteless, which can be

Mixer: Blenheim ginger ale; Canada Dry
bitter-lemon soda.

Special-occasion drink: Champagne from small
growers like Pierre Gimonnet and Henriot.

Secret ingredient: Vinegar, such as Maple
Vinegar from Kalustyan’s in New York. “I like using it in shrubs or in a
version of a Manhattan. Its gives a brightness and tanginess to the

Banned from the bar: Sour mix.

Day drink: Chilled manzanilla

Bottled water: Apollinaris.

Guilty pleasure: Starbucks vanilla

Hangover remedy: Pedialyte.

I wish I could sip my way through:

Place to drink on a day off: Estadio in DC’s
Logan Circle; the Tabard Inn in DC’s Dupont Circle.

Place to eat on a day off: Room 11 in DC’s
Columbia Heights.

Recently splurged on: Bittercube blackstrap

On the wish list: Cherry-red

Can’t live without: MAC Lipglass.

Work outfit: Cocktail dresses. “My favorite is
a dark-green wrap dress from Meeps on DC’s 18th Street in Adams Morgan
that I can wear a zillion different ways.”

Breakfast dish: Grits and eggs.

Lunch spot: Absolute Thai in Chinatown for the
veggie pad Thai and tofu-seaweed soup.

Ice cream: Dolcezza coconut-milk

Cocktail book/guide: Cocktail Guide and
Ladies’ Companion
by Crosby Gaige or Barflies and Cocktails
by Harry McElhone.

People I’d like to drink with: Hilary Swank,
Zooey Deschanel, Chris Thile, Jon Hamm.

Food shop: Seasonal Pantry in DC’s

Liquor store: Ace Beverage in upper Northwest

Place to buy glassware: The Hour in Old Town

Place to buy

This article appears in the May 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.