It’s hard to say what’s been the wackiest cocktail to come out of Columbia Room. Was it the Armagnac drink made with a musty tincture of 100-year-old books? Or perhaps the colorless concoction inspired by an art exhibit about absence? Or maybe the sipper served on a tray resembling the gardens at Versailles?
Actually, the latest tasting room menu, launching today, may be the trippiest of them all. Check this out (with sound on):
The punch-style cocktail, called “Sound,” is stirred using sound vibrations in a “singing bowl.” It’s the first course in a new “Spectrum” tasting menu offering “an interpretation of sound, color, flavor, and time through food and drink.”
Still with us?
Beverage Director JP Fetherton says the acoustic cocktail started simply enough with Google searches about sound spectra. One thing that grabbed his team’s attention were Chladni plates—metal plates sprinkled with sand that create different patterns through sound vibrations.
Then, they came across a music producer who setup elaborate musical contraptions to show off cymatics:
“We looked at it and thought, ‘This is really cool. We have to put this across in some kind of way and at least introduce this to people—even if we’re not setting up a whole cymatics music studio,” Fetherston says.
Enter the singing bowls or “standing bells,” an old instrument used in Buddhism which, yes, you can buy them on Amazon. Columbia Room has two different bowls that produce different notes while causing the liquid inside to “dance.”
“Hopefully it’s a soothing noise,” Fetherston says.
The cocktail itself includes Copper & Kings brandy, which is “sonically aged,” meaning the distiller sets up speakers and subwoofers to blast rock music in its barrel room. The vibrations from the sound allegedly impact the aging process.
A Corsican aperitif wine, fino sherry, verjus, and cirtus ash finish off the cocktail. Fetherston describes it as “wine-forward” with “sweetly herbal” notes and a touch of bitterness.
Other cocktails on the new menu riff off other types of spectra. For another course called “Pick a Color,” patrons choose from white, green, and red cocktails without knowing what’s in them. Each drink aims to capture the flavors most people associate with those colors.
*Sound* interesting? The four-cocktail tasting, which includes bites from chef Johnny Spero, costs $85 (excluding tax and tip). Find it through early June.
Columbia Room. 124 Blagden Alley NW.