We Love Drinks authors Kirk and I were really spoiled this year. In 2010 with wine, beer and cocktails alike we saw a resurgence of the desire to enjoy and educate ourselves in the world of libation. Sure we still like a shot from a dive bar but we also love craft cocktails. It’s not a drunk town, it’s a drinks town!
In addition to the old favorites, a number of new places opened up. We found ourselves covering everything we could despite busy day jobs (it certainly improved my tolerance level. shut up, pesky liver, wine is good for you!). There was the continuation of the wine bar explosion with cosy Dickson Wine Bar, DC’s raging beer love with Biergarten Haus and the promise of DC Brau, luscious cocktail smoothies at Fruit Bat, the rough-and-tumble American Ice Co. – I know we missed a few, and I’m going to do my best to stay on top of 2011. We’ve got burning questions in the coming year – will the winter opening of Jack Rose get me to hang out in Adams Morgan again, or will the Bier Baron successfully revive the faded Brickskellar space (and reputation)?
Anything you’d like to see covered? Interested in joining our merry drinks band? Drop me a line, I’d love to know.
We Love Drinks continues our series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.
When Ivan Iricanin first tells me his favorite drink is tequila, I don’t quite believe him. After all, as beverage manager for Masa 14 with its 100+ tequila collection, doesn’t he have to say that? But the care is evident as he lines up a flight showcasing some exquisite ultra-aged tequila. And once I sample his simple margarita, I definitely believe him.
Ivan’s originally from Serbia, spending the past five years in DC and previously working with Richard Sandoval at Zengo. When I ask how a Serbian came to love a Mexican liquor, he mentions rakija, a fruit brandy usually made with plums. The best varieties are homemade and difficult to get. Traveling to Mexico as part of his stint with Washington Wholesale, he was reminded of his national liquor when trying the micro-tequilas – and of course Sandoval’s Mexican heritage was a huge influence as well.
Most Americans never get past mixto tequila, artificially colored and only 50% or so of it actual agave – the remainder coming from other sugar sources. “You’ll get a headache if it’s mixto,” Ivan says strongly, “all our tequilas served here are 100% agave.” This is serious stuff, with a regulatory council and bottle identifiers similiar to wine regulation. Ivan suggests starting your exploration with a flight – and what better way to completely wipe all memory of previous bad tequila choices than to go with a micro-tequila flight. Masa has six on the menu, and you won’t find them anywhere else.
As he lines up the gorgeous bottles with a card explaining each one, I’m thinking this could be dangerous, even though Ivan says the quality is flawless. I’m still relieved that fellow WLDC author Max is also along for the ride to help me with the tasting! Continue reading →