Drink Cristal French 75s and Fancy Amaro Floats at DC’s Newest Cocktail Series

“Ideal Conditions” at Cotton & Reed will create cocktails as if time and money didn't matter.

Bartender Lukas B. Smith. Photo by Farrah Skeiky.

Price. Popularity. Practicality. These are all things bar owners consider when putting together a cocktail list—and they’re also all qualities being thrown out the window at Ideal Conditions, a new drink series launching at Cotton & Reed on Monday, October 21. Instead, barman Lukas B. Smith and a group of DC’s top tenders will make the kind of libations they’d like to drink if time and money were of no consequence.

“While sommeliers and chefs sell individual steaks for hundreds and bottles for thousands every day in this city, the press and public scoff at such cocktail pricing, limiting the scope of our ambition,” Smith says. “Good bartending often amounts to making mountains of money from budgetary molehills. It’s no wonder if we tend to get a little too loose when rarely let off the chain.”

Photograph courtesy of Ideal Conditions.

That said, you can still test out Ideal Conditions on a regular drinking budget—cocktails, such as a “fully fermented” homemade kaffir-lime soda with gin, will start between $10 and $12. Smith is joined by Sophie Szych (Quill, Night Witch), former Barmini (and current Hanumanh) bartender Al Thompson, and Jason Swaringen of Bresca, all of whom will contribute their own impractical and/or cost-ineffective creations. Think “the world’s maddest Tequila Sunrise” with real grenadine from Szych, a two-cocktail-in-one-glass phenomenon from Thompson, and Swaringen’s “posh float” with homemade Amaro cola. Smith will take inspiration from black garlic and make a boozy slushee with blackened pineapple and coconut. Also: a “Cristal French 75”  that goes for a cool $25 and is made with Grand Marnier VSOP Cognac, lemon, and a split of Cristal Champagne for topping off.

The pop-up will run Mondays from 6 to 10 PM, or until the industry friends clear out.

Ideal Conditions at Cotton & Reed. 1330 5th St., NE

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.