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, The Features

We Love Food: Vinoteca

Courtesy of ThreeLockharts Communications

I can’t say U street is the first neighborhood that comes to mind when I’m deciding where to eat dinner. Sure, there are a few choice spots and classic haunts; however, if you ask what word comes to mind first, it’s “drinks,” not “dinner.” But now, I’ve got the right place up my sleeve that delivers on both the drinks and the dinner fronts: Vinoteca.

Having previously thought of Vinoteca as the place where I could satisfy a craving to play bocce while having a good glass of wine (what? Sometimes those things coincide), I somehow forgot that the five-year-old wine bar also served dinner. There’s a mix of small plates for sharing, as well as larger entrees that could even be split if you’re not starving. There are the appetizers you might have seen before, such as pan con tomate topped with jamon Serrano and manchego cheese, or an Appalachian cheese paired with green apples and candied onions. But then there are more unusual bites like the petite, pickled kiwiberry with onion or more jamon layered over a housemade, salty fish cracker.

I know you might not think to opt for liquor over wine at a wine bar, but start off with a cocktail–the kind with interesting ingredients that you’re unlikely to stock in your own home bar but wish you could. For example, the light and refreshing “Bonal sparkling cocktail” combines aperol, grapefruit juice, St. Germain, Bonal Gentiane-Quina, Toso Blanc de Blancs and a dry sparkling wine. Or the “Spanish Spirit” that combines gin with two types of sherry, a French aperitif called quinquina and a housemade thyme syrup.
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Food and Drink, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Get Out The Vote (and appetite) – Election Day Specials

Photo courtesy of Pianoman75
Vote by cookie! courtesy of Pianoman75

Nothing screams democracy quite like election-day food specials. In true Capital fashion, DC restaurants are getting in the swing of things and offering a host of President-worthy deals, giving you further incentive to get up and get heard. Shake Shack in Dupont Circle has partnered with Rock the Vote to offer “Shack the Vote”. On November 2nd, the burger mecca will be setting up a Pledge to Vote table, where you can pledge to rock it while also receiving a coupon for a free Presidential Caramel Custard, redeemable on Election Day. #brainfreezefordemocracy anyone?

One of my favorite wine bar’s, Vinoteca, if offering an all-day Happy Hour Party, featuring $5 wine and food specials, if you have the “I Voted” sticker. Vinoteca’s 7-day-a-week happy hour usually runs from 5-7pm, but will be extended on November 6th to celebrate all those who voted.

The Park Hyatt Lounge (also home to Blue Duck Tavern) is offering Presidential cheese, literally. Two blue cheeses representing the Democratic candidate and two red cheeses, representing the Republican candidate will be available nightly, nothing gets better than being political over cheese.

Photo courtesy Heather Freeman PR

Capitol City Brewing Company will host a thirteen-hour All Day Election Day Happy Hour from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight on Tuesday, November 6, at both their downtown and Arlington locations.

701 is offering a special three-course fixed price Bipartisan lunch until Monday, January 21, Inaugural 2013, with a special lunch menu consists of an appetizer, entree and dessert priced at $25 per person, tax and gratuity not included.

Over in Old Town, Jackson 20 Chef Brian McPherson has created an Andrew Jackson-inspired prix fixe menu, available for $20 on Election Day for those wearing an “I Voted” sticker. The three-course, colonial-inspired menu pays homage to the restaurant’s namesake, President Andrew Jackson, and the foods he enjoyed.

There is nothing more patriotic than coming together to exercise your right to vote, demand your voice be heard, and party (and eat) together with your closest law-abiding citizens… Enjoy!

Food and Drink, The Features

Summer Loving, and Eating

Photo courtesy of kimberlyfaye
courtesy of kimberlyfaye

Dates. Those awkward, exciting, beautiful things we all go on at some point. I am by no means an expert in this field- quite far from it- and I don’t have a magical solution for how to make your next date the best you ever had, so unfortunately you won’t be finding the next We Love DC dating service here (sigh). The inspiration for this post really came from a conversation with a friend of mine the other day. He asked me where he should take a girl out, wanting to strike the right balance between serious young professional, trendy and casual. I realized many of us have gone through this mental exercise before. The exhausting over-planning and over- analyzing we do: choosing the right spot for that first interaction (or second or third), focusing on every detail from time, to dress code, to the big goodbye, mulling over tiny logistics as a method of defense to shift our thoughts away from the weirdness that could ensue.  But enough of that.

I think a shared meal is the perfect way to break the ice, a way to bond over something simple that brings anyone, no matter what level of culinary expertise you may have, together. We all share stories around a dinner table, have memories of a favorite meal, and can reveal oneself through a dish. So for me, sharing a meal is a perfect way of getting to know someone, whether it be a sit down dinner or a casual picnic. I decided to write some recommendations for where you can break bread and the ice along the way, in case you need to outsource thinking on the next time your big date is lined up. I polled some of the We Love DC crew for their suggestions as well, as not all of us are food focused daters.

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour: Tomorrow at Vinoteca

Happy Hour Flyer March 3

Interested in starting a food blog? Or maybe you have one up-and-running, but you want to share ideas with local bloggers about recipes, photography and software? Or really, maybe you just want to talk about food. We know people who do that, too. Join the DC Food Bloggers tomorrow night for happy hour at Vinoteca.

See you there! And make sure to RSVP on the Facebook fan page.

Special thanks to co-hosts The Arugula Files, Beerspotter, Biscuits and Such, Capital Spice, Capital Cooking, Common Man Eats, DininginDC Gradually Greener, ModernDomestic, Thrifty DC Cook, and WeLoveDC.

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Vinoteca

Malbec at Vinoteca

"Malbec at Vinoteca" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

So, here’s my question: the wine bar proliferation over the past few years – fad or fabulous? I mean, with all these places popping up everywhere, are people actually learning about wine? Becoming educated oenophiles? Or still just stabbing nervous fingers in an overwhelming list and hoping like mad they pronounce “viognier” correctly?

Seriously, dear reader, hasn’t it come down to one thing and one thing alone – the size of the charcuterie plate? Isn’t it all about the meat and cheese?

Well, maybe not. In a city like DC there really are a lot of wine connoisseurs who would be far more qualified to talk about this trend than me. I’m just lucky to have two neighborhood wine bars – Cork and Vinoteca – where I can hang out and slowly pick up some idea of what I like. Of those two, I think Vinoteca has evolved the most. It didn’t spring out of the gate fully formed as a Frommer’s pick. There were some hiccups along the way since its opening in fall of 2007. But after several recent sojourns with good service giving spot-on wine recommendations, not to mention one of the best charcuterie plates in the city, I’ve really warmed up to Vinoteca as a favorite drinks spot.

And maybe not just for the sinful duck prosciutto… or the fact that they have tasty venison, lamb, and bison sliders… though that certainly helps! 

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