After what seemed like an extended “coming soon” period, followed by a week or so of soft-opening, 14th Street’s new Pearl Dive Oyster Bar is officially open, as is the upstairs bar, Black Jack.
Black Jack is designed to be a fun, casual spot – complete with that buzzed-about indoor bocce pitch. They have a nice selection of whiskeys behind the bar and a short list of signature cocktails, two of which come out of a slushie machine. There are colorful lights strung from the ceiling to give a suggestion of being outdoors on a cool patio.
If you are getting the impression that they just crammed every bar trend into one place, you might be on to something. However, the staff are nice, the crowd seemed fine and surprisingly, not-crowded – and based on what I have sampled, the drinks are tasty. Continue reading →
There was a lot of buzz surrounding the recent arrival of New Belgium in the DC market, but I was not that worked up about it. My nonchalance is largely a product of having lived in California with easy access to the stuff and so there was not much novelty in it for me.
On the other hand – though my colleagues here may tease me about it – I have never lived in Brooklyn and so I have never had the opportunity to get bored by the output of Sixpoint Craft Ales and was delighted when they announced that they would be widely available in the DC, Maryland, Virginia region. Getting bored of Sixpoint would certainly take me some time. I like just about everything I have had from them and they produce a fairly long and rotating list of beers. (Not that I am unwilling to put in the time drinking their beers to find out, if pressed, of course…) Continue reading →
Sometimes Patty Boom Boom feels almost a little bit “secret.” As the numerous nightspots by the Hilton Brothers go, it seems to get a little less attention than its sister bars around the corner and down the street. The upstairs is reserved for dj nights which skew towards reggae and dub, the sounds of which filter down to the small area just inside the door where one can sit, grab a patty for dinner, and enjoy a Red Stripe or one of the bar’s signature rum cocktails. Continue reading →
‘01497-07Crop’ courtesy of ‘furcafe’
A long drink, a term with which you might not be familiar, is a bartender’s term for a cocktail which is longer on non-alcoholic mixer than it is on base spirit. You may already know some long drinks as highballs, a slightly younger name which refers to a long drink made with just a single base spirit and a single mixer, often with a fruit garnish. A gin and tonic is a highball, but a Tom Collins (containing not only gin and soda but sugar and lemon juice) is a long drink. The Tom Collins, by the way, gave its name to the archetypical tall glass in which these drinks are served. A highball glass is usually synonymous with a Collins glass (and vice versa).
Cocktails follow formulas, and the combination of a single base spirit and a particular mixer often lends its name to some other concoction made with the same mixer and a different base spirit. The Tom Collins, for instance, begat the Vodka Collins. You could ask a bartender for a Whiskey Collins, and while he or she might look at you funny they’d know exactly what you mean without having to stop to think. Some names have lost popularity over time (Mamie Taylor, anyone?), but others are still current and show up in all sorts of interesting combinations. The Mojito, by the way, is also a long drink; replace the rum with gin and it becomes a Southside; add lemon to that and it turns into a Major Bailey. Formulas! They’re magic! Continue reading →
Local beer nerds have been atwitter for months over the long-anticipated arrival of beers from New Belgium Brewing in the DC market. In particular, there seemed to be a lot of curioristy about two newer beers in the brewery’s Lips of Faith big-bottle series, Clutch and Kick.
I like a lot of the beers I have tried from the Lips of Faith series and when I was at ChurchKey on Wednesday wanted to try one I had never had. They had the dark sour ale Clutch available which sounded very interesting, and so I gave it a try. The beer surprised me immediately by being more chocolately and less sour than I was expecting. There is a sour element which makes the beer brighter than many traditional American stouts, but it is very approachable even to those who do not consider themselves fans of more Flemish sour styles. As the beer warmed a little, I found it opened up and became a bit richer and more nuanced, so if you order it in a bar you might want to hold it in your hands for a bit before drinking.
Ultimately, Clutch is not my favorite of the New Belgium beers I have tried. I prefer the La Folie and the Le Fleur Misseur of the ones currently in production. Clutch is solid, but when I want a sour beer (and, really, I usually do) I want the sour quality to be more defining. I look forward to tasting the Kick sometime soon, but that cranberry-pumpkin beer in a bottle with jack o’ lanterns on the front feels a little more autumn than I am ready for right now while I squeeze the last bit out of summer. Ask me about Kick again in October and I will probably love it.
There will be a release party for the Clutch beer on Monday at Red Palace, notable because it will feature the Maryland-based band Clutch who collaborated on the creation of the beer. The New Belgium beers are available at a number of bars now and will be showing up on more menus and store shelves within the coming days. Currently, most places only have 22oz bottles, but smaller bottles and draft kegs will be their way over the fall.
Chocolate City Beer officially launched Thursday night, with a party at RFD which was among the most-anticipated events of 2011’s DC Beer Week. The new “nano-brewery” based in the Edgewood neighborhood of Northeast brought all four of their beers for the occasion: Big Chair IPA, Cornerstone Copper Ale, 1814 ESB, and Cerveza Nacional de la Capital. The room was packed full of brewery friends and supporters and what seemed to be every beer writer in the city, everyone wading through the crowd to get their taste of the new beer and then, of course, dutifully Twitter their reactions.
One of my favorite things about Room 11 is the taste of the folks behind the bar. On any given evening, there are only a couple of featured cocktails, but they are consistently interesting (as are the wine selections which take prominence on the menu). Wednesday evening, as they celebrated their second anniversary in business, was no exception. There was special strawberry-allspice birthday punch. And, painted on the window, the GNR Lies.
I was at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday night for Gilt’s private Yeasayer show, which was totally great but ended really early – right around 10:15 or so. As it wrapped up, my friend and I walked the half-block over to American Ice Co. and settled in at the bar for some post-show drinking and carrying-on.
While the staff there are well-prepared to make elaborate, creative cocktails (and, indeed, bartender/manager Patrick started my friend and I off with a riff on a blood and sand that was pretty delicious), when they get slammed after a concert, it just makes sense to stick to simpler things. Things like beer, whiskey, and pickle juice. Continue reading →
It is the season of the Rickey cocktail. Recently proclaimed the official potable of the District, everybody has been talking about Rickeys. As July, aka Rickey Month draws to a close, many bartenders around the city are featuring variations on the classic summer refreshment, culminating in an event at Jack Rose on Monday night. (Our team will be covering that for you next week.) In that spirit, I felt compelled to tell you about my favorite recent Rickey – the Riquitita at Estadio. Continue reading →
On a hot late-afternoon this week, just settling down at the long, cool, marble bar in (very air conditioned) Blackbyrd Warehouse was a pleasure. Having a tasty, interesting drink to sip on made it even better.
Blackbyrd Warehouse opened last week to a fair amount of buzz – without even doing too much to promote. Everybody in town had been eagerly awaiting the new Hilton Brothers project for over a year, though several considerable delays and even concept changes. At one point in the process, Blackbyrd was seen as an all-day place, more like Tryst, with a specialty coffee program for day time, transitioning to more of a nightspot in the evening. As it has been realized, though, it is primarily a lounge with a seafood-focused menu of dinner options. (As with American Ice Company and Patty Boom Boom, with whom Blackbyrd shares owners, food is principally prepared in the kitchen at Marvin, next door.) Continue reading →
It is pretty out of the way for me, but I do enjoy stopping by Againn over on New York Ave for an early evening drink. Especially if one can beat the after-work happy hour crowd and grab one of the outside tables, it makes for a nice summer sundowner.
To drink on at that sunny table, I suggest the Reddrum. Evocative of a Hemingway style daiquiri, the coral-colored mix includes grapefruit-infused rum, maraschino for a hint of sweet, lime juice, and bitters. This is the perfect fruity drink for me because it is juicy without a lot of sweetness.
Of note, on a recent visit I asked our server if I should order the Reddrum or another original drink off their list, Pineapple Express. The server was quick to say he would go Pineapple Express. When he came back to the table with the Reddrum, he apologized that they were out of an ingredient for the other drink. I guess this means I need to return soon to try that one as well – though I might need to have another Reddrum, too.
Do you know there are places that do not serve things like sangria at lunch on weekdays? Or technically will serve it, but you might be the only table in the place drinking while everybody else is sipping Diet Coke because they have to go back to the office? Apparently in DC this is pretty widespread, which I think is just ridiculous. How will we ever be taken seriously as a top-tier international city if you cannot pass a couple of hours with friends and wine in the middle of the day at any charming little cafe? That is pretty basic “civilized lifestyle” stuff.
Luckily, the people at Estadio have things figured out, which makes them one of the go-to spots for me to meet a friend for lunch. (The other, notably, is Proof, which is by the same team.) Continue reading →
Do you see that cappuccino in the photo? That is a cappuccino made with love. How, you might ask, do I know it was made with love?
Because I told the kid making it to make it with love.
It helps, of course, that the barista in question is one of my very favorite people/best friends – who just happens to also be the general manager of Mid City Caffe on 14th St. (If you have been following this column, you might recognize him as the cute boy drinking in the background of many of my photos.) Continue reading →
Thursday night was an evening of my favorite things. My favorite DC food truck, TaKorean parked outside one of my favorite coffee shops, Chinatown Coffee Co. for one of Chinatown’s brilliant “Food Truck Happy Hours.” With my delicious Korean-inspired tofu tacos, I enjoyed another of my favorite things: Imbibing a tasty beer.
The beer/wine/absinthe alcohol program at Chinatown Coffee is a bit quirky and easy to forget about if you mostly come in for a morning caffeine burst in the form of their expertly-executed espressos. Stop by in the evening, though, and it is a charming place to have a drink from their seasonally-curated menu of choices, away from the crazy happy hour crush of many other bars in the neighborhood. Also, with several beers usually available for $3 and most options under $6, the prices really cannot be beat. Add delicious tacos and what more do you really want in life? Continue reading →
If there is a better spot in DC to go with a friend for a drink and a lot of talking than the courtyard patio of Bourbon Steak, in the Georgetown Four Seasons, I do not know where it is. The spot is utterly peaceful – there are comfortable outdoor sofa things to lounge on, amazing staff who are attentive but laid-back, and actual birds chirping. It is not exactly a banging dance party scene, mind you. On an early Wednesday evening, the crowd seemed skewed toward hotel guests and Georgetown Ladies – but with weather that gorgeous, a setting that pleasant, and delicious drinks to sip, it did not matter at all.
And delicious all our drinks were. Perhaps slightly under the radar, the cocktail program at Bourbon Steak is really top-notch. Sure, with a name like that, one might focus on the whiskey section of the substantial binder that serves as a menu – and there are many fantastic choices available individually or in curated flights. However, flip toward the front of that binder and you will find several pages of seasonal cocktail suggestions which include classics and newer creations, all well-selected and well-executed.
The bar had just switched over to a summer menu, punctuated with a few tropical touches which make for fun things to sip on in the sunshine and I decided to go with their version of a painkiller, called PNKY. Continue reading →
When I was in high school in Dupont Circle, I had a friend who worked part-time at the R Street Teaism. Occasionally, to amuse herself during shifts, she would play a bit with the yuppies and faux-autheticity-seeking customers who came along. When one of them ordered the chai shake, she would “correct” their pronunciation.
“The chai shaa-KAY?” she would say. Clearly Teaism was a place too fancy for a pedestrian shake. Most times, the customer would quickly follow along. “The shaa-KAY. Of course. That is what I meant.” Part of the game was to see how many would then order it that way next time – and many did. Continue reading →
With all the excitement about the recent launch of DC Brau you could be forgiven for missing the slightly-quieter drop of a second DC based beer company, Three Stars Brewing – but, if so, it is high time you found out.
Debuting with their Syndicate saison, brewed in collaboration with Evolution in Delaware, the seasonally-appropriate style is infused with red, white, and black peppercorns to create a spicy, floral, summer beer. It is quaffable and tasty, without being overbearing. (If you have tried the Green Peppercorn Tripel from Baltimore’s Brewer’s Art, this is a far lighter, more subtle pepper quality.)
If pressed, I would pick 3 Stars’ Syndicate over the DC Brau Public Ale – but they really are very different styles, so the comparison means little. The principal things they share are natures well-suited to drinking on the warm patios of their home city as the season carries on and a hint of more great things to come from both local breweries.
Wednesday started out pretty poorly for me. One of my favorite people celebrated his birthday on Tuesday night (his “actual” birthday, following the “pre-birthday” celebrations at U Hall on Saturday, mind you) and things got a bit saturated. I woke up the next morning feeling pretty sick. After some coffee and water, I got around to checking my email – only to be reminded that I was scheduled to meet up with some other press people to attend a cocktail tasting at Casa Nonna that evening.
I considered canceling, but let’s face facts: A drinks writer calling in hungover is not just unprofessional, it is downright amateurish. When six rolled around, I got myself together and headed over to Dupont Circle.
Casa Nonna is on Connecticut Avenue at N St, in the former California Pizza Kitchen space on the corner. A long, attractive patio stretches along the one side and the place seems absolutely perfect for the drinks-after-work set though, on this evening at least, the place is comfortably populated but definitely not crowded. As the summer evenings drag on, though, one expects that to change. To sweeten the deal: a trio of special “granitia cocktails” that bring together icy, fruity, and boozy to appealing result. Continue reading →
This 2011 American Craft Beer Week has been marked with many events around the DC area – some of which will carry on in the craft beer spirit all though SAVOR next month. While I appreciate the concept, I generally prefer to keep Craft Beer Week in my heart year round and avoided most of the official events. That did not mean, however, that I avoided drinking some truly lovely beer.
Thursday night, the monthly latte art competition-slash-excuse for a party Thursday Night Throwdown (TNT) was hosted by Big Bear Cafe. Hosting rotates each month among various coffeeshops in the area, but with Big Bear’s roomy space and patio, convenient location, and burgeoning beer and cocktail program many attendees noted this was one of the highest turn-outs for a TNT in a long time.
Any cute kid who makes your latte anywhere in the DC area was there, probably with bits of espresso grounds under their fingernails. My hair smelled like coffee by the time I left. However, this will not be a column about coffee. Because, like everyone else in attendance, I was not there to actually drink coffee – I just came for the booze. (Even the competition’s judges just look at the drinks.) Continue reading →