Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Best Of: Drinks 2010

Photo courtesy of
‘Chilling’
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’

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.

Now, on to my favorite Drinks moments of 2010!

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Cool Hand Cuke

Photo courtesy of
‘Cucumber Cocktail’
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’ 

Welcome to the Friday Happy Hour, your single drink primer for the weekend.

Last month Samer and I were treated to a sneak peek of the incredibly refreshing cocktail Owen Thomson would mix up to inaugurate the “Farm to Glass” program in his new role at Cafe Atlantico. Beginning tonight, you can try it too. Called the Cool Hand Cuke, it has a beautiful green hue quirkily topped by a baby cucumber blossom. Perfectly balanced between vegetal and spice flavors, it features SubRosa Tarragon Infused Vodka, Black Rock Farms Baby Persian Cucumber Juice, black pepper and thyme juice and “Dr. Thomson’s” spiced liquor #2.

The “Farm to Glass” program is part of Cafe Atlantico’s Farmers’ Market Dinners, a three-course menu (priced at $45) sourced from the Penn Quarter FRESHFARM market by newly appointed head chef Richard Brandenburg and served every Friday evening during market season. The “Farm to Glass” cocktail program will complement the dinners and their seasonal ingredients.

A green cocktail for a green program. Sip up what Samer called “summer in a glass,” and don’t forget to eat the baby cucumber garnish too – it’s part of the fun!

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Owen Thomson

Photo courtesy of
‘Owen’
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’

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.

Owen Thomson has an interesting tattoo on his arm. His sister points it out to me as we sit at Cafe Atlantico’s bar, while he rustles up a selection of cocktails both old and new. “Abandon Hope All Who Enter Here” scrolls across his forearm, the inscription above the gates of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. Not an atypical tattoo choice perhaps but as the story behind it unfolds, it seems there’s nothing typical about the man now helming the bar at Jose Andres’ “nuevo latino” restaurant.

A native Washingtonian, creator of the cocktail program at Bourbon in Adams Morgan, president of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild, with studies in archaeology and the law under his belt – all this might make you expect that Owen would have a bit of an extreme Type-A vibe about him. But instead he’s completely down-to-earth, with a dry wit and a passion for educating both consumers and restaurants about the glories of fresh ingredients. Fellow WLDC author Samer and I sat down with him one Saturday afternoon to find out more about Owen’s plans for his new role behind the bar at Cafe Atlantico, and what happens when you mix the molecular gastronomy of Minibar with a rare 1950′s cocktail book…

“I want to turn this into a smoke and a fog and they said ‘oh yeah we can do that.’ Cool!”

Cool indeed.
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