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Drinks Special: Spring Cocktails at Saint-Ex

Photo courtesy of
‘Whipping up A Sour Thyme cocktail’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

With any luck, every once and a while I attend a drinks tasting where cocktails and setting perfectly align to create a rather magical experience. Ok, maybe the magic is all due to the haze of booze, but there are worse ways to spend an sun-soaked spring twilight than sitting outside at Saint-Ex’s patio with a few fellow drinks lovers and be catered to by the gentlemanly charms of bar manager Jonathan Fain. Al fresco gets me every time; start me off with a champagne cocktail and you definitely have my attention.

Cafe Saint-Ex is something of a Logan Circle/U Street institution now, weathering the changes to the neighborhood and its clientele while still maintaining its credo to feature local sustainable ingredients in a relaxed bistro environment. Do I grumble about its popularity denying me space at the bar? Sure, but I still value it after the eight years it’s been open. And after trying six of Jonathan’s spring cocktails last week, I will definitely be rotating up to that bar on a more regular basis.

First up in that marathon of spring sips was their famous Champagneson. Jonathan explained that you could improve the taste of cheap bubbly by adding whiskey (in this case, Jameson). It makes sense upon reflection, as the oakiness of a good whiskey will elevate the sparkling wine to a more vintage taste. It certainly worked for me, and as I’ve got loads of whiskey at home I intend to blind taste test this on guests very soon. Garnished with a lemon twist, this was a seriously refreshing drink and far sexier than you might think.

Next up, A Sour Thyme. Jonathan pulled out a sheaf of pressed gelatin, some eggs, and got to work making foam. Continue reading