Josh Volz, at Marvin. Photo credit: Sam Vasfi
We Love Drinks embarks on a series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.
“The coolest winter I ever spent was a San Francisco summer,” Josh Volz quips as he mixes up… a San Francisco Summer cocktail. A bartender who can quote Mark Twain is high in my books. He’s a man in total command of his sometimes chaotic bar, flooded by loyal regulars and dandies alike. Always in motion, befitting the vibrant and constantly shifting scene of Marvin, he’s rustling up a hand-crafted cocktail with no pretension and no intimidation.
“What’s the one thing people would be surprised to learn about your job?” I ask.
“That it’s easy,” he replies.
This I find hard to believe, watching him juggle multiple drink orders from both the bar and the servers at one of the busiest spots in DC. Not to mention, this is a man who came to cocktails relatively late – his first taste of liquor wasn’t even until the age of twenty-five. But it’s a fitting job description for someone who strives to run an inviting, approachable bar. He’s got a wry sense of humor and a balanced, classic cocktail style. I genuinely enjoyed sitting at Marvin’s downstairs marble bar getting to know him and his regulars better. Isn’t that the best part about going to a bar anyway?
"Monaco" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr
Fall cocktails… Once upon a time, that just meant drinks with heavy cream. No more, thanks to some brilliant mixology (my waistline is thankful too).
I’ve been sampling some luscious fall drinks. Everyone is rolling out menus featuring autumnal tastes – apple, pear, cinnamon, pepper, rosemary, cardamom – oh my. Spice has cream beat! Mulling and infusion are everywhere. It’s a good season for sipping slowly, admiring how flavors change and deepen over the course of your evening. Sigh.
Another fantastic benefit of all these freshly squeezed juices and housemade sodas and herbal infusions is that many bars are now offering non-alcoholic versions of their cocktails. With lots of parties and events in the fall, if you don’t feel like imbibing or are not able, you should always feel unabashed to ask. A good bartender should be able to respond without making you feel like a second-class citizen.
So let’s get down to it, shall we? Some of my favorite fall cocktails, with the usual quirky candlelit odd-angle photographs…
courtesy of ‘Erica Wissolik’
Marvin is #100 on Washingtonian’s Best Of list. I thought I should put it out there in front, just because in my mind, it sums up Marvin. It’s not #10 and it’s not even in the top 50, but it’s still a choice pick. Plus, people’s opinions of it, even on our We Love DC authors list serve, vary considerably. Some people believe it to be a hidden gem (not so much on the hidden part any more) and some people consider it totally crap. Me? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s #100. A neighborhood joint with above-average food, a rooftop deck, and some excellent fried chicken.
Marvin, named after DC native Marvin Gaye, is at the intersection of 14th and U. Thanks to the savvy folks behind Eighteenth Street Lounge, The Gibson and Local 16, Marvin is both a bar hot spot and a tasty evening dining destination. The menu pairs southern with Belgian, and has a little something for everyone. On a recent pilgrimage to The Gibson for an after-work drink, a friend and I stopped by Marvin for dinner and had a mostly pleasant experience. Continue reading
courtesy of ‘voteprime’
Get used to this metro station, folks, because we’re thinkin’ you’re going to be heading to it quite a lot in the future. The rumors that have been circulating for months about the potential of a new restaurant/bar owned by the folks who brought us Marvin and The Gibson at 14th and U have been confirmed by the Prince of Petworth, who’s basing his report on a confirmation he received from Chris Donatelli, the developer behind the project.
Although the details are not crystal clear on what type of establishment will be, it will be dedicated in some way to Billy Simpson, the owner of Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood that occupied the space before it switched hands. If Marvin and Gibson are any indication, it’s going to be swanky and there’s going to be great beer and a patio. Suh-weeet! Am I going to be hanging out in Petworth a bunch now? Maybe not immediately, but I wouldn’t have dreamed of hanging out on U Street 8 years ago either…sign of changing times for Petworth, perhaps?