Food and Drink, Interviews, Music, People, We Love Arts, We Love Drinks, We Love Food, We Love Music

Spotlight: Carlie Steiner and Tea Time DC

Hey DC, it’s time for tea with one of my new favorite bartenders, Carlie Steiner. I first met Carlie a few weeks ago, and after a few coffees and a rather short meeting, we were already scooting all over town in her new Vespa, Sophia, shooting back and forth about classic cocktails, and quickly becoming fast friends.

If there’s one piece of advice I can give about the food and bev scene in DC, is don’t follow places, follow people. No matter where you go and what you like, I guarantee that if you develop a relationship with a bartender, server, manager, barista, whatever, you will love wherever it is they are working or whatever it is they are doing. Try to get less caught up in what new bars are opening and instead try to make connections with industry people that you like and respect, because if I follow them wherever they go, you’ll have the same great experience every time. And Carlie is one of those people to follow.

Fairly young to the DC bar scene, Carlie started in New York at culinary school, where she honed her skills as a chef, learning valuable techniques to put to use behind the bar and in the kitchen. It’s no wonder then that she was hired right out of school to work the bar at José Andrés’ Minibar, where she made such an impression that she was moved over to his new, experimental cocktail lab, Barmini.

What can you expect from someone who has been working in restaurants all her life and has an unquenchable passion for classic cocktails who’s then dropped behind a bar as advanced as Barmini? A lot, and Carlie doesn’t disappoint. Partly because she studied her butt off for months before Barmini opened, and partly because she posses a bright creative spark, and this was her first opportunity of express herself with full creative reign.

Turns out she had so much fun at Barmini that she wanted to create the same environment to foster the creative spirits of other artists, musicians, and industry professionals. And thus Tea Time DC was born. It’s hard to describe exactly what Tea Time is. It’s a multisensory artistic experience. It’s like hanging out with old friends, even if you’ve never met before. It’s food, music, drinks, visual art, people, experiencing things, and making memories.

The events are small and intimate, with talented professionals at the top of their game, and it’s all presented in a simple, approachable way that lets the focus stay on the art and guests’ experiences. Carlie and her team of close friends have created a truly unique, social way to share and experience art, and next Thursday, April 24th, Carlie and us over here at WeLoveDC are partnering to put on the largest Tea Time DC event yet hosted at the beautiful Ulysses Room (“it looks like the coolest wedding I’ve ever been too!”)

This month Tea Time is going to feature FAIR Girls, a local nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking, food, art, blue grass, and all the rock’n’rye you can drink (and other stuff, but damn, can you be sure I’m making everyone drink rock’n’rye). Make sure to get your tickets and if you would like to get involved, contact Carlie at teatimeinformation [at] gmail [dot] com or on Twitter via @teatimedc.

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Lupo Verde

I hope our last article got you in the mood for aperitivo hour, because that’s what’s on the menu this week. Specifically, the menu at Lupo Verde; and with Campari, Cocchi Americano, Zucca, and Fernet all in their rail (best rail in the city, I tell you), it’s going to be aperitivo time for a long time.

But first, I have a confession: I don’t like Negronis. They’re Italian cocktails 101, I know, and this must seem like blasphemy, but it’s the truth. I’ll freely admit they taste great, but I can never appreciate the gin, it just gets lost amidst the campari and vermouth. At home I don’t waste the gin and mix Americanos. When I’m out, if I want something a little more high test, I go for a Negroni Sbagliato instead.

But the Negroni at Lupo Verde is a Negroni worth mentioning. The addition of Barr Hill gin in the Annarella is a total game changer. The earthy honey flavor makes the gin take center stage. I could be biased, Bar Hill is my favorite gin, I just can’t get enough of that honey infused junipery goodness, but this is the most memorable Negroni I’ve ever had.

And speaking of riffs on classic Italian cocktails, an Americano variation? Hell yes! Classic juniper bite from the gin, interesting earthiness from the addition of pisco, but the muddled coffee beans are the all star. Especially since they’re left floating in the cocktail. Forget your vodka Red Bull, this is how I’m going to get my late night buzz from now. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Top Drink Picks for Spring

Pay no attention to forecast of snow, spring is upon us. Now is the time to start thinking about what you’re going to be drinking. I get excited about a few very specific things once the weather warms up, mainly wine and spritzes. Weird, I know, but don’t knock it until you try it.

Winter is the time for brown spirits and red wine. Come spring and summer I do a total 180 and switch almost exclusively to white wine. This season I’m most excited about the whites coming out of Greece. Last month I was raving about a crisp assyritko from Santorini, since then I’ve been exploring whites from all over Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. Turns out they’re damned good and easy to find in DC. My favorite spots have been Iron Gate in Dupont and Dunya in Shaw, which has one of the best roof decks in the city.

The rocky soil and salty sea breeze make for great wines to pair with light springtime fare. Look for a wine with light citrus notes and a great minerality to pair with a golden beet and goat cheese salad. Or that salty assyritko with any seafood. My favorite is fried oysters. Totally non traditional, but it’s the best fried oysters and white wine you’ll ever have. And albeit the first fried oysters and white wine you’ve ever had.

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Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Ivy and Coney

Just as that bitter taste lingers in your mouth for what feels like forever, malört has managed to linger in the DC drinks scene since it broke out in late last December. This is due in no small part to the massive hype it’s been generating, getting continuous press and even a bar dedicated to it.

The malört craze started with Boundary Road, which was the first time I saw malört on a DC menu, and Bar Pilar who featured Malört Bombs on their Anti-Valentine’s Day Menu. But the real stuff, Jeppson’s Malört, as of now, is only behind one bar in the city, Ivy and Coney.

Ivy and Coney is DC’s shrine to this bitter Chicago spirit. Opened in late December, Ivy and Coney has been making waves for it’s no frills, divey neighborhood bar take on midwest taverns. Come to drink the inexpensive beers, eat cracker jacks and the Chicago-style hot dogs and coneys. And, of course, shoot malört. This isn’t a place to get fancy, it’s a place to have an unpretentious beer and a snack after work, and see your friends’ malört face. Continue reading

Adams Morgan, Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Roofer’s Union

Welcome to the rest of your spring and summer, people. You’re going to be spending it with me, going out in Adams Morgan. I was skeptical, just like everyone else, when I heard 18th Street was undergoing a bit of revival, but then I went to Roofer’s Union and I finally saw the light.

Good food, good drinks, friendly staff, great concept, you know the deal. The team from Ripple isn’t messing around. The drinks menu reads like my wish list–sour beers, Gansetts (Rhody pride!), amari, quinquinas–and the food is certainly a step above Jumbo Slice. Though one thing they have in common is I’m certainly going to start craving that andouille at three AM.

But what sealed the deal for me was when “Too Afraid To Love You” came on the radio. I was relaxing at the bar with beer before work and realized this would be my new go to spot if I lived around the block. Which is exactly what Adams Morgan had been missing for so long, a low key spot to hang out.

I’ve spent too many nights drinking too many whiskies at Jack Rose, followed by pints next door at Blaguard, and a bleary-eyed brunch at Cashion’s. But that was all that could get me up to Adams Morgan for a long time. Now there’s Smoke & Barrel for even more whiskey and even more pints, Dram & Grain for fancy cocktails, and mainstays of the neighborhood like Bourbon and Tryst. Slowly Adams Morgan is changing from a destination neighborhood to a more central hub, like 14th Street or Shaw.

And Roofer’s Union is going to play a big part in changing Adams Morgan’s image. I really digged everything I had there, the food, the drinks, the vibe, but what stood out to me was the downstairs bar. All the drinks are the same–beer, wine, cocktails–but there’s no food. That means less of a wait during weekend dinner rush and less of a crowd during happy hour. Which is great news for those of us just interested in the drinks and not the crazy Adams Morgan crowd.

Most people will file into the downstairs bar and have a few drinks while waiting for a table to open up upstairs. But if you’re really there for the drinks, downstairs is where you want to camp out all night. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Café Saint-Ex

I haven’t frequented Cafe Saint-Ex for very long, but to be fair I haven’t frequented anywhere in DC very long. But in the time that I’ve spent at Saint-Ex I’ve noticed their slow and steady change from a great neighborhood bar to one of the tops spots to get a drink in DC.

Let’s be real, we all know Saint-Ex. We’ve all been there for more than a few unforgettable nights and, of course, a few that we can’t remember. The 14 street staple opened in 2003 and since then the upstairs bar has been the go to spot for an afterwork drink, whether you’re 9 to 5 or stopping by for last call after a night behind the stick, and downstairs Gate 54 has taken on iconic status for its late night dance parties. While Saint-Ex may already be a DC standard, they prove with their new food and bar menu after all these years they’re still good enough to go round for round with the biggest names in the industry.

Driving the new bar menu is Ben Wiley, formerly of Jose Andres’ Think Food Group, and Noah Broaddus. One look at the menu and you can tell they took a serious, no frills approach to making good, simple drinks. Nothing too crazy, nothing too complicated, but all ridiculously good. Each drink is flavor-driven, with a focus on quality while still being approachable. As Noah puts it, “it’s all about bringing people into the fold.” Saint-Ex is and will always be the spot to drink a beer and get a shot on 14th, but now you can be sure to get a killer cocktail too. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Perfect Pairings at Flight

This photo perfectly sums up my night at Flight, DC’s newest wine bar in Chinatown. From the moment I stepped through the door, I was seduced by the simple, yet sophisticated amber-washed interior. So seduced that I forgot to take enough photos of the amazing food and wine. Sometimes drink writing is harder than it looks.

Luckily I snapped a photo of the tomato soup cake before we devoured it and drank all the madeira. I’m sure you’re a little curious, just like I was, as to what exactly tomato soup cake is. Put simply, think carrot cake only made with a can of tomato soup instead. But that just doesn’t do it justice. I was with a professed carrot cake hater who went crazy for it. I did too, of course. It’s spiced and sweet like carrot cake, but with a great tomato zing to it.

Spicy, sweet, a little fruity? Sounds like a perfect match for a glass of madeira. And hats off to Mike behind the bar for the awesome recommendation. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Sixth Engine


For someone who writes a column called “Friday Happy Hour,” I’ve attended dreadfully few happy hours since I’ve moved to this city. Unless you count late night Industry happy hour at Eat The Rich, in which case, I’ve done more than my fair share. But this past Tuesday, with the city practically shut down due to snowmageddon, happy hour sounded like a perfect reason to check out the city, all decked in white, and have a few drinks along the way.

This started out with the best intentions, but after the freezing five block walk from the bus stop to Sixth Engine, I was starting to regret my decision. Once I got my butt in a seat at Sixth Engine, I was there to stay.

First order of business was certainly going to be one of their winter warmers. Everything sounded great, but when the weather’s so gosh darned Scandinavian out there, nothing quite warms me up like a Swedish Punsch. Bonus if it’s served with spiced butter batter and grated nutmeg in the cheekily named Hot Butter Röm. Swedish Punsch is a spiced liqueur made from a base of Batavia Arrack, a Southeast Asian spirit very similar to rum and distilled from coconut sugar. It makes for a smart variation on the classic Hot Buttered Rum (or tiki drink if you’re at Hogo). Simple, warming, delicious – this might replace my morning coffee for the rest of the season. Continue reading

Adventures, Entertainment, Food and Drink, Get Out & About, Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed, The District

We <3 Snow Days (Part 2): Solid Places To Hunker Down

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Got cabin fever already? Wow…jeez….yeah…..us too. Here are a few spots to escape to – that is if you can make it there safely. Yes, all listed below are open. I checked. If you’ve got other recos, post ‘em in the comments section or reach out to me @digibec

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, The Features, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Tacos and Tequila at El Rey

I’m done with this cold, rainy nonsense. It’s time for spring, people! I want to see more balmy temps, cool drinks, sundresses, and cherry blossoms. But most of all, I want tequila and tacos because nothing quite puts me in the spirit of warm weather quite like drinking tequila and eating tacos under the sun. So I’m sure you can imagine my feelings towards the opening of El Rey last week, Shaw’s new U Street tacqueria/beer garden. It went sort of like this (only replace “bacon and eggs” with “tequila and tacos”).

I walked into El Rey’s soft opening, having done shameful little to no homework, with a very short check list. First order of business: lots of tequila. Yeah they got that. Second: tacos. I think so. Lastly, not cold. It might have been rainy and nasty all week, but under those heat lamps you could have fooled me. Close my eyes and I’m back to undergrad, eating tacos off a truck and lounging on the sunny quad. Only this time there’s tequila. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Proper Pints at Right Proper Brewing Co.

This is one of my favorite places to open since I’ve settled in DC. And that’s saying a lot, since DC saw a ton of new spots open in the later half of 2013, most of which are in a one block radius of Right Proper. I first came here on a cold, snowy night for a quick pint before I moved on to my next stop, but ended up spending the rest of the night nerding out over the food and beer menu. Maybe it was the snow or the wind that, somehow, always blew right into my face no matter which direction I headed that made me stay the night, or maybe it was the great wintery beer menu–porters, pale ales, a wee heavy (whatever that is, aside from delicious)–but I’ve clocked a lot of hours on those bar stools since then. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Malört at Bar Pilar

Even if you don’t know what it is, you probably already hate malört. It is the most bitter, disgusting, offensive thing I have ever tasted in my life. But you can bet that if I see a bottle behind the bar, the night’s going to end sipping that stuff out of a rocks glass. Malört is near impossible to find outside of Chicago, but there it’s an institution (full disclosure: I’ve never been to Chicago). Practically every bar has a bottle of Jeppson’s brand tucked away somewhere. Lose a bet? Want to impress your friends? Winding down the night? You’re likely drinking malört. I don’t know how it started, I don’t know why people do it, but they do.

Outside of Chicago, malört is much harder to come by. It’s far more common in Scandinavia where this style of liquor originated. Italians have their bitter amari, Deutschland has its herbal kräuterlikör, but they’ve got nothing on the bracingly bitter digestivi that come from the land of ice and snow. It’s no surprise then that bäsk, this wormwood-infused style of liquor, is so intensely bitter when you think of where it comes from. Take a shot of this before you leave the house and those harsh Baltic winds won’t seem that bad. It works great on a snowy day in DC, too. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Champagne Cocktails

We bartenders love to talk about the drinks we loathe to make–mojitos, dirty martinis (my personal nemesis)–but we rarely talk about the drinks we really enjoy making. For every drink that makes me cringe when it’s ordered, there are a dozen that I will always volunteer to make, no matter how busy I am. These drinks never follow any rhyme or reason; sometimes it’s because they’re simple (chartreuse, splash of soda, my unyielding respect) and sometimes not so much. Not sure why, but I love to make Old Fashioneds, maybe there’s some kind of zen in taking the time to muddle the sugar cube and slowly stir the whiskey that mentally takes me out of the weeds for a precious minute. One of my all time favorite drinks to make behind the bar, for all the right reasons, is a Champagne Cocktail. It’s timeless, it’s classy, it’s quick to make, and it’s one of the sexist drinks ever. That wild effervescence from the sugar cube, that luscious pink color from the bitters, that dry, sweet taste like your mouth after you’ve just been kissed; sorry Cosmos, Slippery Nipples, and Sex On The Beach, this cool classic blows you all away.

The Champagne Cocktail is so stupidly simple I’m still surprised by just how perfect it is. Possibly the easiest cocktail recipe ever, all you need to do is fill a champagne flute, add a dash of aromatic bitters like Angostura, and drop in a sugar cube. No fancy technique, no esoteric ingredients, no chilling or stirring or shaking required. Simple, easy, tastes great, and–the best part–it’s infinitely customizable. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: How to Make a Knockout Punch

I’m going to let you guys in on a big secret about cocktail bars: we love batching. Got a delicious drink recipe that calls for half a dozen esoteric spirits and liqueurs? Great! Do I want to run up and down my bar trying to find them when I’m getting crushed during Saturday dinner service? About as much as you want to wait ten minutes for that drink. So we batch ahead of time. Like everyone else in the industry, I’ve got mixed feelings about batching. But sometimes it’s not just necessary, it’s preferred. And by that I’m talking about punches.

Punches are a host’s best friend. Easy to serve, better prepared ahead of time, and taste great; proper punch will earn you some serious colonial-era cocktail cred (maybe not that important to everyone… but check out Benjamin Franklin’s punch recipe). Try a punch at your next party and you will forever sing the praises of batching.

My recipes always follow the same format: 750 ml spirits, 375 fortified wine, 1000 ml tea, 250 ml citrus juice, 250 ml sugar, and 250 ml water. That’s roughly equal to one bottle of hooch, half a bottle of fortified wine, a pot of tea, a cup of citrus, a cup of sugar, and a cup of water. As far as actual ingredients goes, I’m a stickler for tradition (when it suits me) so I like to use colonial-era ingredients like applejack and maderia, two of the most consumed alcoholic beverages during foundation of our nation. Other than that, it’s dealer’s choice. Similar to boozy nogs, punches can take a mixture of multiple spirits; bourbon, rye, rum, brandy, genever, it will all blend in the end. You can even do a vodka-based punch. The ladies of LUPEC served one up at the Repeal Day Ball and it was so delicious, I was ready to cry witchcraft. Generally though, I avoid using vodka in my punches because we can’t all have skills like its creator, The Passenger‘s Alex Bookless. The exception being zubrowka; bison grass-infused vodka, that is. Mixed with apple cider, manzanilla sherry, and chamomile tea, a zubrowka punch is a beautiful thing. But that’s another post.

Final punch pro tips: don’t get fancy with the spirits, go fancy with the other ingredients. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: How To Stock Your Holiday Bar

Tis the season for holiday parties, so let’s talk about how to keep your bar stocked. The first mistake that everyone makes–myself included–is to try to find the best of the best and impress your friends with your masterfully curated liquor selection. Which, for me, usually ends with a hefty dose of buyers remorse after I mourn over my empty bottle of $70 dollar scotch the next morning. The best thing to remember with parties is don’t get too fancy; keep it simple and keep it cheap. Cheap doesn’t have to mean bad, it’s easy to find a great bourbon when you’re not worried about the price tag, it’s much harder to find a great bourbon when you’re on a budget. Hopefully this list of how I stock my bar will help.

First and foremost we start with American whiskies, so pick up a bottle of Buffalo Trace. A good, cheap bourbon is harder to come by than almost any other spirit, by my count. But Buffalo Trace clocking in at around $20 for a 750 ml fits the bills. It makes for a killer Old Fashioned, works great as a sipping whiskey, and isn’t too expensive to blush at the thought of pouring a bit in your morning eggnog. After bourbon, the next most important whiskey to have on hand is a good rye. The only rye I want you to even think about buying for your holiday parties is Old Overholt. There’s a reason I tell people this is the cornerstone of American mixology. Rye whiskey is an essential component in so many fundamental cocktails–Manhattan, Sazerac–and we are very lucky to have such a cheap and abundant source in the US as Old Overholt at only $15 a bottle.

Now let’s hop the pond and round out your sipping whisk[e]ys. Scotch can be an expensive endeavour, but fortunately it doesn’t have to be Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Holiday Gin Giving Guide

The holidays are upon us and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from tending bar, preparation is half the battle. So let’s get an early start on gift giving. It is Black Friday, after all. My holiday gift giving secret is I buy people booze and only booze. You can buy it online, have it shipped, and avoid all that normal holiday shopping madness. Everyone loves booze or all of my friends do, at least (admittedly, all of my friends are lushes or in Industry). And no matter how well stocked your loved ones’ bars, there’s always something they don’t have. So what do you get the drinkophile in your life when it seems like they have everything? More gin. And lucky for us, this month saw the release of three new gins on the DC market.

New Columbia Distillers released its Green Hat fall/winter selection, Ginavit, a hybrid spirit that is a mix of barrel aged and non barrel aged gins with akvavit. Before we continue, I owe you guys a bit of a disclaimer, I HATE akvavit. It is one of the only things that I have difficulty mixing with. Kümmel, malört, black pepper-infused belgian ale? No problem! But this esoteric, pervasively caraway-flavored spirit is my one weakness. And I really, really like caraway too. Just not in a liquid, high test medium. But I was excited to try Green Hat’s new seasonal offering nonetheless.

The Ginavit release party was held at Boundary Road, a refreshingly understated H Street bar. I started the night cautiously, opting for one of the cocktails that featured Ginavit, rather than the spirit straight up. I chickened out, admittedly. I told you akvavit scares me. The first drink I tried was a Ginarac, a gin based sazerac with malört rather than absinthe rinse. It was dry on the palate, not too sweet, a bit savory. With the bitter, herbal malört and the herbaceous Green Hat, it worked great as an aperitivo. And, thankfully, the malört helped settle my stomach (Five Guys wasn’t such a great idea afterall).

After a bit of liquid courage, I had finally built up the nerve the try Ginavit neat. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Flipping Out

It’s less than a week until Thanksgiving, people, which means it’s time to start gearing up for holiday parties. Are you guys flipping out? Because I am planning to flip out. Hosting a holiday party for friends and family with quality cocktails on the menu can be a tough feat to pull off. I certainly learned my lesson last year when I volunteered to make a proper boozy egg nog with whipped eggs whites and all. Let me tell you… never again. Even with my trusty all-in-one immersion blender/egg white frother/home defense weapon, it was impossible to keep a mixture of cream, eggs, sugar, and booze warm and frothy all night. If only I had known about flips back then. The flavor and texture is not exactly like egg nog, but it’s close enough that flips are a worthy shortcut. That said, not all flips are created equal.

A tale of two flips: there are two schools of thought concerning flips. One way is the old school mix of eggs, spirit, sweetener, and (very optional) citrus and soda. Which is more akin to egg nog, especially without the citrus and soda. Then there’s the stuff that sailors used to drink, a mix of spirits, sweetener and beer. That’s the old, old school method, so old that it ranks up there with grog, rock and rye (low and slow, baby!), and colonial-era punches in its historical street cred. And there’s the question of serving temperature, hot or cold? Egg flips are traditionally served cold but can be served warm–though I can’t say that I recommend it, unless you don’t mind the occasional scrambled egg in your cocktail–and beer flips are almost exclusively served warm.

Where can you get a good flip in this city? Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

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. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Lion’s Share Cider at Tryst

I was asked recently what I consider my guilty pleasure drink. I didn’t know what to say. Most of the time I’m drinking rather straightforward drinks. I like to get a little extravagant sometimes and experiment a bit, but I wouldn’t consider that a guilty pleasure. That I reserve for marshmallow vodka or whiskey from a plastic jug. I thought about it and decided that the closest thing I have to a guilty pleasure is day drinking. Even when I had a more traditional 9 to 5 style job I had a tendency to mix up a sherry cocktail before I made my way into work. It was how I got my morning OJ.

Before brunch cocktails became a weekend staple, I had such a hard time cajoling my friends to commit to serious day drinking. Bottomless Bloodies, Mimosas and Bellinis are some of the greatest things to happen to recent cocktail culture. Now it’s suddenly trendy and it’s not just me and Hemmingway drinking Daiquiris at ten in the morning. And thankfully cocktails for brunch are such a big thing in DC. Working as much as I do, I’d never get a chance to go out for a nice cocktail if it wasn’t for brunch. Which is exactly why I hoofed it across town to Tryst on a Sunday morning, to get my day drinking on (the food was good too).

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Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Mezcal, Los Spirits de Muertos

As a native New Englander there’s no time of year that I enjoy more than autumn and, hands down, the best part of the season is Halloween. No question about it. When you’re young, you get to dress up like a monster and get free candy for it. How amazing is that? Then, when you’re an adult, you get to use it as an excuse to go out drinking at inappropriate times–got work on Friday morning? Who cares!–and dress as ridiculously as you can financially and imaginatively afford. That being said, I’ve always had a fascination with the Day of the Dead too. Maybe it’s because my mother was a Spanish teacher for over twenty-five years, and each year she would set up her little sugar skulls and Catrinas around Halloween. I’ve always been intrigued by the holiday and wished that more people celebrated it. So this week we’re doing a tribute to seasonal cocktails and Dia de Muertos. And to me that means we’re doing mezcal (whoops!).

If you’ve never had it, mezcal is a little spirit that comes from the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Similar to tequila, it’s distilled from agave (albeit a different species, but that’s a bit too wonky for now), the primary difference is that the hearts of the agave plants are roasted for three days in ovens dug into the ground, which imparts this beautiful, earthy, smoky flavor. Continue reading