Food and Drink

Cocktail Competitions at Quill

Twice a year, Quill lounge at The Jefferson invites in a a handful of DC’s most acclaimed mixologists for a little friendly competition. It offers the rare opportunity to see individuals from across the city behind one bar together – and to sample the wide variety of creations all featuring a single highlighted spirit.

Up for the judges’ consideration this summer were Joe Cleveland of Oyamel, Clinton Terry of PX, Patrick Owens of American Ice Co., JP Caceres of Bourbon Steak, and Dean Feddaoui of Beacon Bar & Grill, each making a cocktail that included Tequila Ocho.
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The Daily Feed

Jefferson’s Winter Storm Special

Photo courtesy of
‘Quill Bar interior, Jefferson Hotel’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

Maybe you don’t live in the city proper and it looks like you may get stuck in DC tonight. Or you just can’t take the sight of those four walls anymore and need a change of scene. If your tastes tend to the luxurious, The Jefferson is offering a Winter Storm Special rate of $195 a night tonight and tomorrow.

These are for the Deluxe Rooms which have a usual rate of about $380 a night, and judging from my visit last year post-renovation I’m actually debating checking in for a long hot soak in a soothingly beautiful bathtub. The rooms are truly gorgeous and serene.

Though restaurant Plume will be closed, never fear – Quill bar is open, and you can cuddle up in a cushy chair and read by the light of the glowing glass bar. The staff is gracious and you can pretend all this insanity doesn’t exist. Book by calling the hotel directly at (202) 448-2300. I’ll at least trudge on over for a drink!

The Features, We Love Drinks

2009, A Glass Half Full

Glass Half Full

"Glass Half Full" by Jenn Larsen on Flickr

When I inaugurated the We Love Drinks feature back in September 2008, I really didn’t give it much thought to start with, honestly. We founding writers were tossing around feature ideas, and I said, “hey, what about drinks? I go out a fair amount.” That simple. It began mostly with bar reviews, with some coffee and tea thrown in for good measure.

But that slowly started to change when I realized there were people passionate about drinks culture in the city – not just nightlife and where to go to get wasted (not that I was writing about that! those days are over, darlings, good-bye jello shots!). It was a humbling experience to discover what a neophyte I was – when I got caught in the crossfire of a discussion on how to make your own bitters, for example, or the first time someone asked me whether I preferred green or yellow Chartreuse. Certainly the vast world of wine was still a mystery despite the wine bar explosion, and don’t even get me started about my beer ineptitude.

So why I am admitting this to you? Because these days I’m all about humility. I may be opinionated, but I’m still eager to learn and am constantly excited about the many different possibilities in our city of drinks. Respect for the taste and the balance of a proper cocktail, diving into the vast world of wine and beer, and most importantly understanding your own tolerance – that’s been my experience in 2009. Here are a few key moments that helped me on this continuing journey. Continue reading

The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Fall Cocktails


"Monaco" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Fall cocktails… Once upon a time, that just meant drinks with heavy cream. No more, thanks to some brilliant mixology (my waistline is thankful too).

I’ve been sampling some luscious fall drinks. Everyone is rolling out menus featuring autumnal tastes – apple, pear, cinnamon, pepper, rosemary, cardamom – oh my. Spice has cream beat! Mulling and infusion are everywhere. It’s a good season for sipping slowly, admiring how flavors change and deepen over the course of your evening. Sigh.

Another fantastic benefit of all these freshly squeezed juices and housemade sodas and herbal infusions is that many bars are now offering non-alcoholic versions of their cocktails. With lots of parties and events in the fall, if you don’t feel like imbibing or are not able, you should always feel unabashed to ask. A good bartender should be able to respond without making you feel like a second-class citizen.

So let’s get down to it, shall we? Some of my favorite fall cocktails, with the usual quirky candlelit odd-angle photographs…
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Food and Drink, The Features

First Look: The Jefferson

Jeffersonian Truth

"Jeffersonian Truth" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

If someone asked me to define elegance, I would have to toss out other words like simplicity and restraint, covered with a kind of luxury that has nothing to do with pretentious opulence but everything to do with exquisite comfort. It’s a hard sell in our over-the-top world, but I think there is a yearning to return to that kind of old-fashioned mystique. And the reopened Jefferson hotel, debuting after a 30-month renovation, is a breathtaking example of elegance, lovingly presented with true beauty.

Think I’m exaggerating? Well, I’ve taken plenty of photographs for you to see for yourself. While touring The Jefferson, fellow author Cathy and I were spinning around like tops, ooo-ing and aah-ing every little detail. And there are many – the Beaux Arts hotel was specifically renovated by design firm ForrestPerkins to evoke the Jeffersonian spirit. He’s everywhere, but in a refined way, nothing kitschy at all, oh no. Perhaps it’s the next best thing to being in Monticello – which features prominently in murals and custom toiles – even the spa’s “vinotherapies” pay tribute to Jefferson’s philosophies and interests.

But why are locals going to go? For two reasons – Quill and Plume. Continue reading