Food and Drink, The Features, Where We Live

Best Rickey: DC Craft Bartenders Guild @ Jack Rose Dining Saloon–8/3/14

Dustin Beruta of Cashion's Eat Place created a yummy vanilla Rickey.

Dustin Beruta of Cashion’s Eat Place created a yummy vanilla Rickey.

Sunday was a perfect day to stand alongside a bar on a roof and drink a refreshing beverage, maybe something a little sweet, maybe something a little fruity.

Seven of the top bartenders in the city were happy to oblige as they faced off under the auspices of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild for the title of best Rickey at the Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Adams Morgan. The seven Rickeys came in a variety of mixtures, and included recipes made from gin, bourbon or rye.

The arrangement for the 2014 contest was simple and effective. Three bartenders with gin-based Rickeys served their creations upstairs at Jack Rose, while the whiskey-based Rickeys were served by their mixologists downstairs. A reasonable $35 provided unlimited access to all seven Rickeys, allowing the audience ample opportunity to judge their own personal favorite from among the competitors.

The judging panel for the Rickey competition awarded best Rickey to the gin-based “Supafly Rickey,” created by Lukas B. Smith of Daikaya. It consisted of Half Moon Orchard Gin, cured sweet potato soda and a drop of rose water, garnished with a lime and a spray of lemongrass. It was pretty damn easy to drink, and it was probably the freshest and most memorable beverage among an excellent lot. The bartenders ran out of the ingredients for the Supafly Rickey well before the conclusion of the four-hour event.

Daikaya vows to display the Best Rickey Trophy at the bar for the next year, and perhaps they will continue to serve their winning cocktail as well.

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All Politics is Local, Food and Drink, History, The Daily Feed, The District

On This Day in 1934 …

Photo courtesy of daveinshaw
Faith and Insurance
courtesy of daveinshaw

As you might know by now, we’re big fans of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s annual Repeal Day Ball, which celebrates the national repeal of Prohibition. What you might not know is that DC’s local prohibition law remained on the books for a few more months after the national repeal.

Today is the anniversary of the repeal of prohibition in DC. According to Garrett Peck’s book Prohibition in Washington, DC, DC’s repeal went into effect just after midnight on March 1, with some 200 licenses hand-delivered by police and other DC officials. The first recipients? The National Press Club, who still have license ABRA-000001 [PDF].

Know of any official or unofficial celebrations? Post ’em in the comments.

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks (Lots of Them): Repeal Day Ball 2011

Fog Lifters
All photos by the author

We here at We Love DC are unabashed, unequivocal fans of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild and their annual Repeal Day Ball. So much so that, within about 48 hours of the announcement that tickets were on sale (by which I mean within about twelve hours, really), Jenn, Brittany, and I (and the Social Chair, naturally) had all bought our tickets for this year’s ball. It’s the biggest party of the year, it’s focused on craft cocktails, and it’s thrown by bartenders themselves. This idea intrigues me and I would like to subscribe to its newsletter.

The ball (8pm Saturday at Halcyon House) is sold out now, but those of you who are going for the first time are in for a treat. A continual supply of treats, to be honest. I won’t go over all the names (you can do that yourself) and I can’t predict what the drinks will be, but I can provide the voice of experience to get you to the end of the night with your dignity intact and your clothes unstained. Join me, won’t you?

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Food and Drink, Night Life, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Reminder: Rickey Month Party Tonight

August Rickey on the @tabardinn patio. Yum.

You may recall from previous years that July is Rickey Month. July’s over, but tonight the DC Craft Bartenders Guild wraps things up for 2011 with its Rickey Month Party at Jack Rose.

Finalists, announced via email on Friday, are after the jump, along with a few tasting notes from our team on the ones we tried.
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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Best Of: Drinks 2010

Photo courtesy of
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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Entertainment, Food and Drink, Night Life, People, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Repeal Day Ball

The 1980's Room of the 2010 Repeal Day Ball. Photo credit: Elba Giron. Courtesy of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild.

400 people. 1,000 limes. 2,400 glasses.

Earlier this month, the Repeal Day Ball truly came into its own with an absolutely smashing party on December 4th. Or do I mean smashed? Maybe that’s why it’s taken me this long to wrap it up for you. No, no, we’re here to encourage intelligent drinking! Thrown by the DC Craft Bartenders Guild, this party celebrating the end of Prohibition is in its third year. Here are some highlights to get you excited about our local bartending talent – and get in line now for next year. DC’s drinks scene is becoming more nationally known by the minute, and its in no small part due to the Guild and its amazing members.

Am I gushing? I don’t think so, honestly. Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Entertainment, Food and Drink, Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Wrapping Up the Rickey

Alex Bookless wins the Rickey Contest. Photo: Scott Wolfson.

The Third Annual Rickey Month Celebration was Monday night, and I’m only now getting around to recap it after being honored to participate in the final judging. That should give you a better idea of what kind of wild fun party it was than anything I could possibly write, but…

The five final contestants presented a quintet of Rickey riffs highlighting the enormous talent we have on hand here in DC mixology. None were derivative, all were inventive, and it was a very tough call. That’s the sign of an excellent field of contestants – congratulations to the DC Craft Bartenders Guild!

But there has to be a winner, and it was Alex Bookless (The Passenger) with her The Root of All Rickey, a complex mix of both event sponsors Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Hendrick’s Gin. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Rickey Month

July is Rickey Month in DC

Close your eyes and imagine life in our fair city over one hundred years ago. Imagine it was a week like we’ve had, a scorching heat wave, in your restrictive starched collar or corset – and there is no relief in sight, no air conditioned buildings to dart in. Sweat is dripping down the back of your neck, the small of your back. You need something refreshing. Now.

Enter the Rickey – “an air conditioner in a glass,” as Derek Brown termed it last night at a Columbia Room seminar on the history and making of our very own native cocktail. Wait, DC has its own cocktail? Indeed. July is Rickey Month, in its third year designated by the DC Craft Bartenders Guild to celebrate and spread the word on a very simple yet heat wave essential drink. All month long bartenders around the city are debuting their unique versions of the classic Rickey, culminating in a competition at The Passenger on Monday, August 2 at 6:30pm. The event is $10 at the door (including a free Rickey), and you can pick up a “Passport” at any of the competing bars and restaurants this month to try as many of the versions as you can before the contest (get ten stamps on your Passport and you get in free). As Guild President Owen Thomson says, “The Rickey is our native cocktail and designed to combat hot, muggy DC summers. We hope to pay tribute to both our history and future as a great cocktail city, as well as helping everyone stay cool.”

I think we can all get excited about that this month! So let’s explore the background of DC’s historical cooler, find out who the contestants are, and learn what makes a classic Rickey so special. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Owen Thomson

Photo courtesy of
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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Food and Drink, Interviews, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Joe Riley

Photo courtesy of
‘Joe Riley, Ace Beverage’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

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.

So far in our profile series we’ve focused on the people bringing your drinks to you – from bartenders crafting cocktails to sommeliers creating a wine list. But who brings the drinks to them? Those ingredients don’t just magically appear, do they? One name kept coming up over and over again – Joe Riley, fine spirits manager at Ace Beverage. I ventured up to leafy Wesley Heights (near AU) to meet him at the small but packed shop in Foxhall Square. We talked about his experiences as a fine spirits manager, and I also canvassed DC craft bartenders Owen Thompson and Derek Brown, along with cocktail enthusiast Marshall Fawley, to find out what it is about Joe that has loyal customers so buzzed.

Joe’s reputation is that he can find anyone anything. Within a few minutes of talking to him, I’d mentioned my nostalgic love for a rose liqueur I tasted one evening in Paris, topping a glass of champagne (the waiter exploded the bottle over me, but that’s another drinks story). “Not rose water, rose liqueur,” I sighed, “but no one has ever been able to – ” Joe’s head had cocked to one side during my reverie, eyes sparkling, and I trailed off as I realized he was about to make magic. “Crispin’s Rose Liqueur, Greenway Distillers. Hand distilled from apples, infused with rose petals. Crispin Cain’s been perfecting the recipe for years. We should be able to get that soon.”

Quest ended. Just like that. I then spent about an hour in the shop listening to him weave tales of liquor lore. Not only can he find anyone anything, he seems to know about everything – a fine spirits encyclopedia, a libation historian, filled with tales of Prohibition and the Washington of old. Continue reading