Friday Happy Hour: Bistro Bohem

I have been hooked on Bistro Bohem since the I first went there for a job interview (for this job actually). I love everything about the place, It’s a bar and a restaurant and a cafe and a late night spot and a brunch spot and a pretty-much-whatever-time-of-day-spot all in one. They have good, cheap, hearty food, a great tea selection, everyone I’ve met on staff is really, really friendly, and some of the drinks I’ve never even heard of before. Bavorak, Beton (Czech for concrete)? Sure! But the drink that first caught my eye was the Becherovka Old Fashioned.

I have a bit of a love affair with amaro-based Old Fashioneds; Campari-gin, Fernet-bourbon, sometimes I just want to sip something strong and bitter. No surprise then that I immediately noticed Bistro Bohem’s Becherovka Old Fashioned. It’s a mix of Becherovka, Bols oude genever, and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, all muddled with a lemon (bye bye, winter weather blues). Don’t worry If you’ve never tried Becherovka. It’s a rather uncommon ingredient in cocktails because not many people know what the heck it is. Actually, no one does – the recipe for this spirit is a closely guarded secret.Think of it as Czech cough medicine. But cough medicine that makes getting a cold worth it. It has a herbal flavor similar to an Italian amaro with strong cinnamon, clove, and ginger notes. And you bet those spicy flavors will heat you right to the core, making for a great little winter warmer that’s perfect this time of year to mix with a juniper-y, Christmas-y, genever. After one or two you’ll be ready to face this bitterly cold weather we’ve had recently. Or not, stay inside and have a few more Old Fashioneds instead.

Other things to look out for on the menu at Bistro Bohem: mulled wine (okay, now I’m ready for the cold), adorable little 10 oz beers (perfect for any time of day), Fernet Martini (what!?), the Pompear with bison grass vodka (drool), and the milky oolong and darjeeling tea at Kafe Bohem. Unfortunately the Absinthe Gin Fizz is no longer on the brunch menu. Though the word on the street is it might make a menu appearance within the next few weeks. For now we’ll just have to make them at home with this simple recipe:

Absinthe Gin Fizz
4 parts gin (1 oz/32 ml)
2 parts absinthe* (0.5 oz/16 ml)
3 parts lemon juice (0.75 oz/24 ml)
2 parts simple syrup (0.5 oz/16 ml)
white of one egg (0.5/16ml)
sparkling water to fill

Combine gin, absinthe, lemon juice, simple, and egg white in a shaker tin. Dry shake without ice for 15-20 seconds. This will froth the egg white and make that creamy texture we’re after. Add ice and shake for another 15-20 seconds or until the shaker tin gets frosty. Strain into a collins glass and top with sparkling water. Impress your friends or significant other (or someone else’s) with this extra fancy little tipple. Just make sure not to skimp on quality lemon juice and fresh squeeze it yourself, unless you enjoy making a face like you just ate an entire pack of Warheads, that is. The store bought stuff has added citric acid and is best suited for canning or preserves.

*There’s no reason you can’t substitute Becherovka for absinthe if you’re feeling adventurous or a little under the weather.

Paul Allen

While having only recently relocated to DC, Paul has been a long time fan of DC’s cocktail culture. In his short career he has tended bar for GQ, Bombay Sapphire, Campari, and Nikka Whisky in London. Currently you can find him behind the stick at Firefly. When not working, he’s likely vociferously advocating for the DC Craft Bartender’s Guild or trying to brew the perfect cup of tea. Though he misses his native Rhode Island’s beaches and beautiful fall weather, Paul is proud to live, work, and–most importantly–drink in DC.


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