The Rum Diary is one of Hunter S. Thompson’s best books – a novel based in part on his own time as a journalist in Puerto Rico. It’s a great story and this movie should be pretty good too. Also, there will be lots of rum.
I normally don’t run these sorts of reader contests, because, well, I guess I’m a bit selfish and like to keep the good contests to myself. But the fine folks at Wines of Chile have been very good to me over the last year and their blogger events are really a lot of fun.
Here’s the deal. Wines of Chile is hosting a blogger tasting of 8 Chilean Carmeneres. They’re pairing the wine tasting with curry recipes. The contest is this: blog readers can submit their best curry recipe. From there, “Culinary Expert Nissa Pierson will choose the best recipe and that recipe will be featured in the tasting kit and in the live tasting. The winner of this contest will receive a kit and an invite to participate alongside the bloggers and winemakers in the live event on Thursday, October 13.”
To submit a curry recipe and enter this contest, email the recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, September 15. Note the name of this blog when you send in your recipe so Wines of Chile can notify me if one of my readers wins win and give this blog credit for finding the winning recipe.
Pretty straightforward, no?
Hey, look! A new cocktail recipe original (I think) to me! It’s like 2009 up in here!
Adams Mill Cocktail
2 oz Old Overholt Rye
0.5 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth
0.5 oz The Bitter Truth EXR Krauter Liqueur
2 dashes Boker’s Bitters
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
I made this Manhattan-type variation for my friend Dave, a native of Covington, KY. I was going to call this a Covington Cocktail, but found out with a quick Google search that this is a term which has an entry in the Urban Dictionary and really doesn’t lend itself to use for a fine drink. Instead I went with a neighborhood name – one for a street near where I live.
I tried this with both 100-proof Rittenhouse Rye and 80-proof Old Overholt. I liked it a bit softer and that’s what I printed above, but Dave liked the hotter version with the 100 proof rye. If you want to try it that way, by all means go for it.
This video is in a post by Liquor.com on Huffington Post. The video shows the time, energy, craft, and care that cocktail bars like San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch put into making their drinks and providing their service. It is this time and energy which causes some craft cocktail bars, in some cities, to have drinks that cost $13 or more.
My experience with craft cocktails started in New York City. While I was mostly a dive bar guy, I would occasionally go out with friends to trendier bars and clubs. At these loud, packed meat markets I would regularly pay $10-15 for simple Ketel & Sodas (as I said, this was prior to getting into craft cocktails). To be in New York and to be social involves a certain amount of dramatically overpaying for drinks.
When I discovered craft cocktails through a visit to Death & Company, I wasn’t struck by paying $15 for a cocktail. I was instead struck by the fact that I’d paid $15 for a cocktail and it was worth every penny. There was value and care in the drink. I was willing to pay it again and, ideally, as soon as possible.
The reality is that while a $13 cocktail is expensive for most people, a bad $6 cocktail is also expensive for most people. Wasting a dollar costs the same amount everywhere. While I’ve certainly had some overpriced craft cocktails (I’m looking at you, hotel bars with good cocktail programs!), for the most part the prices for drinks at high-end craft cocktail bars are reasonable for what you get in return.
Of course what that means is that most of us don’t get to have a bar like Bourbon & Branch or The Columbia Room as our nightly, neighborhood bar due to the cost associated with it. But as a matter of fact, that’s what made me build a bar at home. If you like those $13 cocktails, but don’t want to pay that much every time you want a killer Manhattan variation, find out the recipes, buy the ingredients and make them for yourself at home! It’s cheaper in the long run to learn how to mix these high-end cocktails yourself. The sole caveat I’d add is that home bartending doesn’t lend itself to having lots of different tinctures, custom bitters, and bizarre infusions. You can still do these things, but the time incentive is less on your side than, say, going to the store and picking up some Rittenhouse 100, Carpano Antica and Angostura bitters.
The moral of the story is this: embrace the $13 cocktail until the point where it hurts to regularly spend that $13 on a single drink, then start building your home bar and try to emulate the practices and methods which made that drink at the craft cocktail bar taste so great.
Bartender Michael Neff of Ward III and The Rum House in NYC has a post at Serious Eats, titled “On Vodka Sodas and First Dates.” While the relevance to working at bars and witnessing first dates is somewhat minimal to people who aren’t professionals behind the stick, his description of the Vodka Soda and why people drink it is pretty spot-on.
That said, vodka-soda drinkers are like jilted lovers; they’ve often had brief relationships with other spirits in the past, and walked away feeling scarred and skittish. Reluctant to open old wounds, they have trained their palates to crave neutrality. The phrase I hear most often is, “I don’t want to taste the alcohol.” In effect, they want the punch but not the flavor.
I don’t especially blame them. Many of us learn about alcohol in college, at bars where quantity trumps quality, and the goal is to drink as much as possible on limited resources. When people say, “I don’t like gin,” they usually mean, “I don’t like cheap gin.” Blended scotch is a beautiful thing, but 100 Pipers blended scotch tastes like cough medicine.
The rest is worth reading, as is the context that Neff uses to comment on the Vodka Soda: a blind date at a cocktail lounge.
Originally posted at PRZman.com
A Champagne Cocktail for National Champagne Day
I don’t know who decides these things, but August 4th is National Champagne Day. Champagne is one of the most overlooked cocktail ingredients in modern American drinking. While it has a deserving place as a beverage to be drank while celebrating World Series wins, promotions and engagements, it’s also good to drink at any and all other times! Cocktails like the Mimosa (orange juice and Champagne) or the Bellini (peach puree & Champagne’s Italian cousin, Prosecco) are great for brunch year-round.
f you really want to step up your Champagne cocktail game, though, I suggest trying one of these classic cocktails featuring Champagne.
Created by author and famed drinker Ernest Hemingway and named after his famous book about bullfighting in Spain, Death in the Afternoon is a Champagne cocktail with absinthe.
Death in the Afternoon
1 oz absinthe or substitute (eg Pernod)
Pour absinthe into a Champagne flute. Top with chilled Champagne. In the words of Hemingway, “Drink three to five of these slowly”
A World War I era cocktail that’s said to have been created by British soldiers who combined their gin ration with Champagne while serving in France, the French 75 is named after France’s 75mm howitzer artillery gun used during the Great War. As a rule, cocktails named after artillery are worth drinking.
1 oz gin
1 oz simple syrup
0.75 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz Champagne
Combine gin, syrup and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Champagne glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.
“Cocktail” Bill Boothby was one of America’s most famous bartenders at the turn of the 20th century. Originally from San Francisco, but working at top bars around the country, Boothby created a variation on the Manhattan which elevates the drink to magnificent heights.
The Boothby Manhattan
2 oz rye
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
2 dash Angostura bitters
1 oz Champagne
Stir rye, vermouth and bitters in a mixing glass filled with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, add Maraschino cherry, and float one ounce of Champagne on top.
Spain’s Rioja region has long been one of my favorite wine producing regions. Even before I knew much of anything about wine, I enjoyed Rioja tintos – red Riojas – particularly Tempranillo. In fact I’d say that Tempranillo’s from Rioja were the first grape and geographic combination that I knew to look for on wine lists.
I was recently invited to an online tasting of Campo Viejo’s line of red wines. I ended up having a work conflict and couldn’t make the live chat with assistant winemaker Roberto Vicente, but recently went through and did the vertical tasting with some friends. Founded in La Rioja in 1959, Campo Viejo has three different bottlings, each with the same ratio of grapes, but with varied fermentation, maceration, and aging methodology. The result are three distinct, enjoyable, well-priced entries that show the talents of their winemakers and the quality of their fruit.
The Campo Viejo 2007 Crianza is their entry-level wine, priced at $10 a bottle. Like all three of their wines, it is 85% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 5% Mazuelo. It was fermented at 77 degrees, mascerated for 12 days, and aged for 12 months in American and French oak, then finished in bottles for five to six months before release. It has a dark red-purple hue which was common across the three bottlings. On the nose is dark stone fruit, berries, oak and a mild hint of alcohol. The taste is lead by cherry, then followed by vanilla. The fruit flavor is slightly sour. The wine has fairly light tannins and the finish is long, with a hint of leather. For $10, this is a great deal, as the Crianza is enjoyable and extremely drinkable.
The Campo Viejo 2008 Reserva has the same grape ratio as the Crianza, though how the fruit is used is different. The Reserva is fermented at 82 degress, then aged for 18 months in French and American oak, followed by 18 months in bottles before being released. It has a similar deep ruby red color, but the nose shows a marked different. While there’s still cherry, there’s also orange and baking spices like clove and allspice. The taste begins with sweet cherries and there’s a noticable smokiness from the oak. The Reserva has a great textured mouthfeel, with a medium amount of tannins and some spice. It’s well balanced and has lovely body, though the tannins fade a bit fast for my preference on the finish. It retails for $14 and is another very good value.
The Campo Viejo 2003 Gran Reserva is the high-end offering from the winery. Though it is made from 85% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 5% Mazuelo, it’s fermented at 82 degrees like the Reserva, but is aged for two years. During that time, it is 80% in French oak and the remaining 20% in American oak. It is then aged in bottles for another three years prior to release. The color is slightly more deep purple than the other bottlings. The nose is incredibly complex and layered, with a thin cherry scent giving way to vanilla, spice and oak. The taste is balanced, with a lot of the oak character coming through and a mid-level amount of smooth tannins. The finish is bright, with some more spice coming through. While I’d say this was the best bottling on the merits, it seemed to lack the body I was hoping for. At $21, it’s still a good deal, though.
Tasting these three wines together was really special. The commonality of the grapes that go into each bottle allows for the difference between different fermentation and aging methods to show themselves. The result is that the craft of the winemakers shows through, all at once. It was a fun way to do a tasting and all of my guests had a good time with it. Opinions varied about which was their favorite, but I think all three wines acquitted themselves well.
Disclosure: This post was made possible because I received free bottles of Campo Viejo Crianza, Reserva & Gran Reserva for the purposes of sample and review.
I have a new post up at PRZman.com on sangria. Included in it is a recipe for a white sangria that I originally posted here in 2009. The article is at the first link, but here’s a rehashing of the recipe, which is truly delicious:
375 mL cachaça
375 mL pisco
375 mL St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
125 mL fresh lime juice
750 mL semi-sweet white wine (Riesling works well)
750 mL white cranberry juice 3
75 mL soda water
Add ingredients to an ice filled pitcher and stir. Garnish with sliced kiwi, grapes, apple, cucumber, lime wheels, and fresh sage leaves.
My latest piece up at PRZman.com
p>It’s hot out. And when it’s hot out, there’s nothing better than staying cool with a refreshing cocktail. While there’s no doubt that frozen tiki cocktails like the Piña Colada or Missionary’s Downfall are as cooling as it gets, most of us don’t bring a blender to the beach. Below are four of my favorite cocktails that will keep you cool without requiring an electrical outlet.
Originally made at Shoomaker’s in Washington, DC by Democratic lobbyist Col. Joe Rickey in 1883, the Gin Rickey is the official, native cocktail of our nation’s capital. It’s my favorite summer cooler, as the crisp line and gin combination has the effect of air conditioning in a glass.
2 oz gin
Juice of half a lime
Juice half a lime into a wine glass and drop the lime shell into it. Add gin and ice, top with soda water.
The Ridgely is a creation of a family friend, but is one of the first rum cocktails that I ever fell in love with. Tart and crisp, it’ll cool your core when you’re lying poolside.
2 oz dark rum (Mount Gay works best)
Juice of half a lime
Add rum and lime juice to an ice-filled highball glass. Top with equal parts tonic water and ginger ale. Garnish with a lime wedge.
The Dark ‘n’ Stormy is a quintessential rum highball. Made with rich, dark Bermudan rum and spicy ginger beer, it is both refreshing and flavorful. Goslings Black Seal Rum is required to make it a real Dark ‘n’ Stormy. My favorite ginger beer brands are Regatta and Goslings ginger beer.
Dark ‘n’ Stormy
2 oz Goslings Black Seal Rum
In an ice-filled highball glass, fill with ginger beer and top with 2 ounces of Goslings. Squeeze in a lime wedge and enjoy.
Finally, to change things up, I recommend trying a whiskey-based highball, a Horse’s Neck with a Kick:
Horse’s Neck with a Kick
2 oz bourbon or scotch
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Spiral lemon peel
Peel a lemon in one-piece spiral and extend this into a Collins glass. Add ice, bourbon and bitters and top with ginger ale.
All of these drinks are refreshing quaffs that are perfect for outdoor summer drinking. You don’t need a blender to stay cool, but as you can see plenty of ginger ale, ginger beer, club soda, and tonic water will help your cause.
Legendary political reporter Warren Hinckle recently had a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about the demise and rebirth of one of San Francisco’s classic cocktails: the Irish Coffee. Apparently due to a supplier ceasing to make the traditional glassware, there had been a decline in the ability of local establishments to serve it. The main purveyor, Buena Vista Cafe, had switched their supplier from a company in Ohio to China, with the plans to resell the Chinese glasses of lower quality to other Bay Area restaurants. Unfortunately the Chinese glassware was no substitute and in San Francisco, the glassware makes this cocktail. Fortunately the original purveyor of 6 ounce Georgian Irish Coffee glasses, Libbey Glass Company, was convinced to re-start production (at a great cost) so the city could continue to serve proper Irish Coffees in their proper glasses.
The whole article is an interesting read and I recommend you check it out yourself. In the mean time, here’s a recipe for a San Francisco-style Irish Coffee:
6 ounces brewed coffee
2 sugar cubes
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
heavy cream, lightly whipped
Fill glass with very hot water to pre-heat, then empty. Pour hot coffee into hot glass until it is about three-quarters full. Drop in two cocktail sugar cubes. Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Add full jigger of Irish Whiskey for proper taste and body. Top with a collar of whipped cream by pouring gently over a spoon. Enjoy it while piping hot.
Last summer I was part of selection committee for the DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s annual Rickey Contest. I spent a whole lot of time trekking around DC and Northern Virginia with Derek Brown of The Columbia Room (and others) drinking modern Rickey variations. One thing I remember most from this experience was talking with Derek about the historic place of the Rickey as the quintessential DC cocktail. The Rickey was created by Colonel Joe Rickey and bartender George Williamson at Shoomaker’s Bar in 1883. Originally made with whiskey, it quickly became popular with gin as its base. As Derek is fond of saying, a Gin Rickey is perfect for DC’s swampy summer weather as it is effectively like “air conditioning in a glass.” Derek had the idea that the city of DC should commemorate and honor the Rickey as Washington’s native cocktail and get a plaque put on the J.W. Marriot hotel, which sits on the site of Shoomaker’s, to honor the history of the cocktail’s creation there.
Today DC Council Member Jack Evans officially honored the Rickey:
Local liquor aficionados will join D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans on Thursday in reading an official proclamation declaring the Rickey as Washington’s native cocktail, according to the AP. July will be officially known as “Rickey month” in the District.
Additionally, this weekend a plaque commemorating the birthplace of the Rickey will be put up at the J.W. Marriott.
This is a great day for DC and the evolution of the nation’s capitol as a place that knows and honors the history of craft cocktails and the importance of cocktails in our national culture. Congrats to Derek and every other member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild who helped make this happen by promoting, reinventing, and remembering the Rickey as DC’s native cocktail and one of the finest instances of creativity in the history of American cocktail culture.
Via Derek Brown, David Wondrich has a handwritten recipe by Colonel Joe Rickey for the original Rickey. Here’s what I think it says:
Col. Rickey’s Recipe for a “Rickey.”
Long glass – Ice
Whiskey [illegible] -
Don’t Drink too Many
Anyone want to take a guess at what the word(s) after “Whiskey” say?
Update: Consensus is clear, the first line is “Whiskey or Gin”. Thanks for the help everyone!
On Twitter, Dave Wondrich addresses my confusion that Rickey’s original recipe called for whiskey, not a choice between the two:
Rickey wrote that in 1895, at which point he was resigned to the ubiquity of the gin version
So while this is not the original recipe for the Rickey, as created at Shoemaker’s in Washington DC by Col. Joe Rickey, it is the first written version tied to the fine Colonel.
Another good cocktail today from Gaz Regan’s email list. This comes from Chad Larson of Barrio Lowertown in St. Paul, MN. Larson says it’s similar to a Blood & Sand, but I see greater similarities to the Bronx cocktail family and specifically the Peto Cocktail. I suppose the flavor profile of this is closer to Blood and Sand (smokey, citrus, rich), but the ingredients don’t match up that well.
1 oz Illegal mezcal reposado
.75 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
.33 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
.75 oz fresh orange juice
Brandied cherries, as garnish
Orange peel ribbon, as garnish
Orange twist, as garnish
Shake vigorously over ice and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnishes.
However the inspiration came, this looks like a delicious cocktail that I plan on trying at my earliest possible convenience.
Spain is known for its hard apple cider. Unlike most other hard ciders, it isn’t bottled with carbonation. Instead, an essentially flat cider must be aerated before serving. Traditionally that is done by holding the bottle and glass as far apart as possible and pouring the cider into the glass. The fall and the impact add air to the stream of cider, giving it a bit of fizz. That process traditionally looks something like this:
While I was in Madrid last week, I got to partake in some traditional Spanish cider and really enjoyed it. However, instead of the acrobatic pour by a server, the restaurant I was at had this delightful contraption:
And this is what it looked like when it was in use:
The apple doesn’t add C02 to the cider – it just propels it out of the bottle and into the glass at a very high speed, with the impact adding the desired aeration and bubbly mouthfeel. Unlike Irish or English or American hard ciders, this was incredibly dry with almost no sweetness at all. While the Magic Apple was a cool contraption, I still think I would have liked to see someone make the long pour into a small glass.
Originally published at PRZman.com
There are two kinds of men—those who drink gin and those who are scared of gin. If you fall into the first category, you’re going to enjoy this post, but if you’re someone who isn’t a gin fan, this should give you the information you need to get past your phobias and start enjoying the base spirit that is king in the world of cocktails.
Gin was invented by the Dutch, but perfected by the English. Jenever is the Dutch style of gin, which, though made with juniper, is malty and pretty unrecognizable from the modern style of gin. Only recently has jenever made a comeback through the craft cocktail movement.
English gin is a more approachable affair, made of neutral spirits flavored with juniper and other botanicals. What we usually think of when we think of gin is London Dry Gin, the most common style of English gin. It’s a staple in every bar in the United States, with brands like Beefeater, Bombay, Boodles and Tanqueray leading the market. It’s great in Martinis, with tonic water, and with any range of classic cocktails.
A popular style of gin amongst bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts is Plymouth gin. Both a unique brand and a unique style of gin, it’s not as dry as London Dry Gin and has softer juniper notes that lend incredibly well to mixing in cocktails.
Old Tom Gin is stronger and sweeter than London Dry Gin. It was common in Pre-Prohibition era cocktails, but is making a strong comeback. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin is now widely available and some markets have a micro-distilled version from Oregon called Ransom Old Tom Gin that is truly outstanding. Old Tom is found in the Martinez, an 18th century classic that is believed to be a predecessor to the Martini.
The last major type of gin is New Western Dry Gin. Made all over the United States and Western Europe, these new styles of gin focus less on the juniper and more on other botanicals and citrus elements. Hendrick’s from Scotland brings forward cucumbers, while Tanqueray No. 10 has a strong lemon presence. Aviation and Bluecoat are two great examples of American micro-distilled New Western Dry Gins, but my personal favorite is Anchor Distilling’s Junipero, which is made by the same folks who do Anchor Steam Beer. It’s a powerful, dynamic, captivating gin that goes great in just about any gin cocktail I can think of.
The first step to loving gin is knowing how many choices you have out there. Armed with a basic understanding of different gin styles, you can now approach any bar or cocktail menu with an understanding of the role different gins can play in a drink.
One bright brainwave, two remarkable results: Washington’s Peter Smith is making culinary use of the botanical byproduct of gin production known as ‘mash,’ and in doing so, is providing the gin industry for the first time ever with a sustainable market for its waste. He is the first chef in the country to cook with gin mash.
Distilleries typically throw away 30-40 pounds of spent botanicals for every batch of gin produced, a wet compound that looks like old brewed tea and tastes like super concentrated gin: an intense combination of juniper, orris root, lemon, coriander, and other flavors that is so highly alcoholic Smith says “it’s nearly a biohazard.” Working with the mash from two different gin distilleries, Blue Coat of Philadelphia, whose product is 95% organic, and Catoctin Creek of West Virginia, the first distillery in the area since Prohibition, Smith gives new life to the erstwhile waste product by converting it to aromatic oils and powders at his hip downtown restaurant, PS 7’s.
The used gin mash is going to use in his own experiments with charcuterie – a breseola modification with dry aged beef and a pancetta variation. I haven’t had these yet, but will plan on trying them the next time I’m hanging out at the bar, enjoying Gina Chersevani’s cocktails. Gina is also the brand ambassador for Blue Coat gin and I’m guessing she helped get this project rolling too.
Awesome video by Sarah Cannon as an announcement for The Passenger’s Tiki Tuesday series. A stop-motion video of a Scorpion Bowl! Here’s the recipe:
1 oz brandy
6 oz light rum
6 oz orange juice
4 oz lemon juice
2 oz orgeat
Put it in a bowl, add ice and lots of comically big yet socially convenient straws.
Via DJ Hawaiianshirt, I’m reminded of an old thread at Kaiser Penguin about who has the most bitters in their home bar. Inspired by it, I did a quick inventory this morning of my current stock of bitters:
- Angostura Orange
- Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter
- Bitter Truth Repeal Bitters
- Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
- Bitter Truth Orange Flower Water*
- Urban Moonshine Original
- Urban Moonshine Maple
- Urban Moonshine Citrus
- Bittermens Xocolatl Mole
- Bittermens Burlesque
- Adam Elmegirab’s Boker’s Bitters
- Fee’s Aztec Chocolate
- Fee’s Whiskey Barrel Aged
- Fee’s Grapefruit
- Fee’s Cherry
- Fee’s Orange
- Chartreuse Elixir Vegetal**
- Trader Tiki’s Barrel Aged Falernum Bitters
- Marshall’s Mountain Moonshine Bitters
- DJ’s Floral Tinc Bitters
- Homemade Cola Bitters
- Homemade Cherry-Vanilla Bitters
Now a tough question is which can I not live without. At the end of the day, if forced, I could probably get by with just Angostura, Peychaud’s and Regan’s Orange bitters. I’d collected a lot of bitters out of a desire to have new and interesting things. But as I’ve gotten to the place where I do far, far less original cocktail creation in my home bar, I use the random bitters with less frequency. The basics — aromatic, orange and Peychaud’s — are far and away the flavors I used the most. Sure, I’d miss some of the more interesting ones and some of the citrus variations, but I’d probably be able to do most of what I usually do in my home bar.
* I’m including The Bitter Truth Orange Flower Water because, well, they’re a flavoring agent used in a similar way, just not bitter. And they come in the same bottles as other Bitter Truth bitters.
** Chartreuse Elixir Vegetal is another one that is used just like bitters, though I don’t know if many people consider it as such. Asterisks protect me from being wrong…
The Jack Rose Dining Saloon, a long-awaited single malt and cocktail haven in Adams Morgan, is open, at least partially. The bar is a project of Bill Thomas, Stephen King, and Michael Hartzer, who you may recognize from Bourbon. I’ve been to their roof deck bar the last two nights for food and drink. The main floor dining room and bar is slated to be open within a week or so. With a project this large, it’s not shocking that they’re rolling out in portions.
Before I get into what my experience on the rooftop patio has been, let me give a quick overview of the Jack Rose. Housed in a building that used to be a boxing gym, there are three floors of bar and restaurant space. The main floor will have a formal restaurant, a very, very long bar, and more bottles of single malt whiskey than you can find in the world. The seating space will be just seating – no standing – and it is separated from the bar by a metal rail. The bar is huge, with easily enough space for four or five bartenders to work. Around the walls of the first floor are floor-to-ceiling shelves that will hold literally of thousands of bottle of single malts, bourbons, rums and other spirits. But the emphasis will be primarily on single malt, with a collection that within a year should be the largest of any bar in the world. I’ve talked extensively with the folks behind the Jack Rose about this and their vision for it is truly inspiring.
Downstairs will be a smaller bar, the Prohibition Bar. I only saw it while it was under construction, but it looked like it would be a fun, intimate space.
The real excitement now is the upstairs space. Split into three portions, the Jack Rose’s top floor is open now. The main patio has a covered bar, but open air seating. At the front of the building is a glass-enclosed tasting room that will be available for private events. One nice touch that will surely be a hit with cigar smokers is including a small balcony off of the tasting room, overlooking 18th Street. At the back of the building is an even smaller open air private bar station that can also be used for private events. I don’t know what the actual limits for capacity are, but I would guess around 20-30 in the front space and 15 in the back space.
The main roof patio has a wood burning grill and its own menu. Currently the menu is on the small side, but everything I’ve had, especially their sandwiches, are delicious. The cocktail menu, built by one of DC’s star bartenders, Rachel Sergi, is very summer oriented, with lots of rum, tequila, citrus to keep you cool on in our swampy heat. I’m a huge fan of the Stormy Monday #3, a Dark & Stormy variation featuring Beefeater 24, Goslings, Apricot liqueur, and ginger beer. The Caretaker is a pretty inspired tiki drink, made with rum, curacao, cream of coconut, pineapple juice, and a float of Lemonhart 151. It’s served in a Hurricane glass and is easily the biggest drink on the menu, again key in the DC heat. Once things get rolling more downstairs, the roof will maintain something of a tiki bent to their menu, though it will be possible to order some of their fine single malts as well.
Washingtonian recently had a piece on the Jack Rose and the vision of Bill Thomas and Harvey Fry, the man behind the scotch. I highly recommend reading it. Harvey is a scotch collector who is helping curate, obtain, train, and taste the single malts that will go into the Jack Rose. He’s also providing a substantial amount of his own collection to the bar – hundreds? thousands? He wouldn’t tell Washingtonian… But the simple reality from my conversations with him and Bill is that Harvey is one of the world’s foremost single malt collectors and is working hard to make sure that the Jack Rose becomes the world’s best bar for single malts. And I’ll say this, in the handful of times I’ve hung out and drank scotch with Harvey, I’ve always had a good time and always learned a lot. If you see him (he looks a bit like Santa Claus and always is seen in suspenders), talk to him, learn from him, let him teach you about scotch.
In the Washingtonian piece, Bill gives a great quote which Harvey has also expressed to me as the vision for this bar:
“The way I see it,” Thomas said, “this place, if it succeeds, is going to be here a hundred years from now. That’s the way we’re thinking. This isn’t about right now.”
This sentiment is what it’s all about and it’s why I hope the Jack Rose is a smashing success. This isn’t much of a review. I don’t have any notes on the cocktails I’ve had there. I’m pretty certain I have the ingredients of The Caretaker wrong. And the whole space is not yet open. This is just a preview of what I think will be one of the landmark bars of the DC cocktails scene for a long time to come. I highly encourage you check it out. Fight the weather, the food and drinks on the roof are worth it and soon enough the downstairs spaces will be open as well.
Doug at The Pegu Blog has a great write-up on the Jack Rose too. Go give it a read.
Via DCist I see that a DC bar just a couple blocks from me is now serving 48 ounce cocktails (
three pounds a quart and a half of cocktail). The bar’s name, Dirty Martini, gives some indication about the sort of poor decision making their management makes. They describe this behemoth:
It’s said that everything is bigger in Texas. Not necessarily. In DC, we work hard, we play hard. We need big leisure time. For those intrepid cocktail lovers, Dirty Martini debuts the ‘Big Dirty,’ the largest cocktail in DC. This 48 ounces of any cocktail on the menu from the signature classic dirty Martini to concoctions like the refreshing A+A=T – Absolut Wild Tea, fresh lemon juice, honey, homemade pomegranate gomme, egg whites and lemon bitters or the ITIS – a smoky blending of Bulleit, homemade smoked peach puree, sweet vermouth, tabasco vanilla syrup and old fashioned smokehouse bitters.
I haven’t been to Dirty Martini, though it’s only a block away from my work. And this does not make me want to go for a first time. One of the biggest problems with ordering cocktails at most bars is the tendency to take drinks that should ideally served in 2 to 4 ounce servings and make 8-12 ounce versions of them. The Martini is a perfect example. It’s meant to be drunk icy cold and be a crisp drink. It’s not possible (or at least not healthy) to drink a 10 or 12 ounce Martini in the time before the cocktail becomes undesirably warm. Now think about trying to power through a 48 ounce Martini. Unless it’s served with straws and is envisioned like a Scorpion bowl-style drink for sharing, it’s just not possible. Odds are even the most aggressive drinkers will end up with at least 24 ounces of lukewarm Martini French vodka. To which I say: yuck.
Now I’d say if Dirty Martini was serving these
three pound quart and a half cocktails in a punch bowl, with a solid block of ice to keep them cool, and lots of straws for sharing, there might be some merit to it. Kooky, but not absurd. But I don’t get the impression that this is the direction they’re going in. Instead it looks like they just want to serve some stupid big cocktails.
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