Hot Drinks Cure All Blues

Flaming cafe brulot. Photo by author.

If you’re like me (and half the city, it seems) you may be struggling with a hacking cough caught just in time for the winter blues. It almost prevented me from attending the Hot Drinks event last night at Tabard Inn, but I rallied to see what Chantal Tseng and Adam Bernbach came up with to showcase warming cocktails. Three rounds of soothing hot liquid later and I felt much, much better. My camera, on the other hand, has met its maker, so forgive the foggy photos! But it was just the night to lift my battered spirits and I definitely recommend future events.

In the beautiful private room upstairs at Tabard with its preppily colored walls of pink and green, guests enjoyed two courses by chef Paul Pelt including perfectly prepared duck breast, ending the evening with pastry chef Huw Griffiths’ famous doughnuts. Though the food was delicious, it was the drinks that I needed! So, fellow sufferers of the winter cold blues, I give you Adam and Chantal’s remedies. I guarantee they will cure you (at least temporarily). Let’s start with Adam’s Genever Punch, whose amazing ginger and lemon scent led me up the stairs. There’s something about liquor and spice that’s instantly therapeutic. The Genever Punch contained Bols Genever gin, fresh ginger, lemon, cinnamon and star anise. I could’ve had several mugs of this revitalizing hot drink, better than any Theraflu, the spiciness both clearing my sinuses and waking up my mind. I want more!

Eyebright Bugler by Adam Bernbach. Photo by author.

Next up was his Eyebright Bugler, exquisitely colored red by cranberry syrup and made oh-so-drinkable by one of my favorite hot cocktail ingredients – butter-washed rum (Mt. Gay rum, to be precise). Finished off with hot water, lime zest and a sprig of mint, I was surprised how well this matched with the duck breast. Adam joked that this drink was “the bastard child of a mojito and a cosmopolitan.” Let’s have more love matches like this.

The evening ended with Chantal laddling out some Cafe Brulot, the famous New Orleans coffee drink with a flaming twist. This version featured chicory coffee, Remy Martin 1738 cognac, Cointreau Noir, orange peels studded with cloves and a cinnamon stick. This was the way to end my day. I loved the bitter kick of chicory in the coffee and of course who doesn’t love drinks with pyrotechnics! Adam stood valiantly by with a fire extinguisher as Chantal lit long curls of orange peels on fire.

Chantal Tseng making cafe brulot. Photo by author.

Hot cocktails are definitely the cure for what ails me right now. Time to do some experimenting at home!

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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