Bartenders often borrow flavors from chefs, but Jessica Weinstein is taking culinary-inspired cocktails to the next level as the new head bartender at Hank’s Cocktail Bar (née Twisted Horn). She just launched a new menu at the Petworth watering hole with drinks that incorporate yoghurt, charred eggplant, and snap peas (though not together). Others are inspired by popular dishes such as French bouillabaisse.
“I don’t want to go as far as to say we’re bridging the gap between drinks and food, but basically that’s where my head is at,” says Weinstein.
Weinstein has a background working in restaurant bars—most recently Hank’s Pasta Bar in Alexandria—and picked up cooking lessons from colleagues and hospitality courses in college. Her new cocktails are divided into two categories: “Food Production 101,” inspired by classic sauces and techniques, and super-seasonal “Market Fresh.” (There’s also a list that riffs on classics for those who don’t like drinking their vegetables.)
In 101, you’ll find drinks like the Béarnaise that takes flavors from the French sauce with tarragon-infused honey, tangy Greek yoghurt, fresh orange juice, and vodka—all served in a honey bear bottle. The market-driven lineup incorporates spring and summer produce, including a fat-washed mezcal cocktail that’s enriched with eggplant butter, or a refreshing mix of house-made sweet pea juice, Meyer lemon, and gin dubbed “Shelling Peas is Torture’—a phrase borrowed from Weinstein’s brother (minus the f-bomb), who’s a chef at Requin.
As for the bouillabaisse-inspired Club Med, the interpretation is looser. Saffron, a key component in the stew, is infused in tequila and blended with coconut milk and Pastis, an anise-flavored French spirit.
“There’s no seafood in that cocktail,” says Weinstein.
Hank’s Cocktail Bar. 819 Upshur St., NW.