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, The Features, We Love Food

DC Chefs Head to the James Beard House

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Chef Logan Cox at the James Beard House
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

One of the greatest honors a chef can have is cooking at the James Beard House. Each year an extremely talented group from DC heads up to New York City with the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington to prepare a meal for 60 or so people who get to dine in the late James Beard’s bedroom.

Is it a little weird to be eating in what used to be someone’s bedroom? Not unless you’re seated under the mirrored ceiling. That used be over his bed. The Beard House is full of lore, to say the least. After the jump, you’ll find a slideshow of all the photos from this year’s “The Best of DC” dinner that took place this past Monday evening, along with a little history lesson on the man behind the foundation.

Kudos to this year’s lineup at the “Best of DC” dinner, featuring Justin Bittner of Bar Pilar, Logan Cox and pastry chef Alison Reed of Ripple, Claudio Pirollo of Et Voila and Vikram Sunderam of Rasika. Also on hand were Todd Thrasher of Virtue Feed & Grain and Dan Searing from Room 11 for cocktails, along with Greg Engert, the beer connoisseur of Neighborhood Restaurant Group.
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Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features, We Love Drinks

The Week in Drinks in Pictures

Tiki Tuesday 7
All photos by the author

If you follow me on Twitter, you might be aware that this has been an eventful week. Literally. Friday the Social Chair and I hosted her birthday party, Sunday we hit our usual brunch, Monday I had a tasting, and Tuesday saw the launch party for Dan Searing’s new book, The Punch Bowl. Plus Tuesday was, as always, Tiki Tuesday at the Passenger. So I was busy.

Instead of picking just one of those, I thought this week would be a perfect opportunity for a photo feature. So here goes.

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Food and Drink, Night Life, Special Events, The Daily Feed

The Punch Bowl: Book Launch Tonight


Remember how I said I reached out to Dan Searing about a launch event for his book? I found out earlier today that launch event is tonight, at 6pm in the Warehouse Theater behind the Passenger.

I’ve already made use of the book, as you might discern from the above picture. That’s an oleo-saccharum in progress — sugar muddled with lemon peel, extracting the oil from the peel and resulting in a much more complex final product than you’d get with just lemon juice. I’ll see you tonight!

The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

We Love Books About Drinks

Photo courtesy of
‘Temperance Fountain’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

It may come as a surprise to you that I have time to read in between all those trips to the Passenger for brunch, but it’s true. It probably won’t come as a surprise, though, that I’ve been reading a lot about drinking and prohibition lately. Two DC area authors have new books on those subjects.

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