I hadn’t been to one of Adam Bernbach’s Tuesday Cocktail Sessions in a while, but was able to make it last night with a friend. I was really glad we made the trip in the DC rain, because this was one of the best tastings I’ve seen Adam do. Every drink was phenomenally well balanced and the themes of cranberry-honey and cinnamon fit well with the late fall/early winter weather. I didn’t have a camera with me and my cell phone is worthless, but I did take some notes from the session.
The opening taste was Glamour, Glitters, & Gold, which contained spiced cranberry honey syrup, Aperol, Peychauds bitters, and sparkling wine. It was a great start – light and complex, with the Peychauds and cranberry flavors sitting on the front of your tongue long after you take a sip. None of the flavors overpowered and it set the stage for some of the themes to come.
Killer Bees was the second drink, made with Tanqueray gin, Punt e Mes, lemon juice, and cranberry & honey syrup. This kept with the light theme, but there was more of a cranberry bitter flavor than the Glamour, Glitters, & Gold. It was very balanced nonetheless had a nice tart, bitter kick to it.
Generalissimo was probably my favorite cocktail. It was made with Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey, Lustau East India Sherry, lemon juice, cranberry & honey syrup and Bitter Truth Repeal Day Bitters. This was a remarkable drink. It had a very healthy rye start, but it quickly moved off your palate with no trace of the whiskey. The Repeal Day bitters have a very strong cinnamon component to them, which worked really well with the cranberry and honey syrup. The lemon and sherry gave a nice, multidimensional sour flavor. I was really impressed by how strong the rye comes on, before moving back and letting the rest of the ingredients take their turn on the taste buds.
The last feature cocktail was the Garcone, made with Bulleit bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Lustau Moscatel Sherry, and Bitter Truth Repeal Day Bitters. The Repeal Day bitters gave a heavy cinnamon flavor to the drink. Despite the bourbon, amaro, and sherry, the Garcone was light and not too boozy. Interestingly enough, I tasted the amaro and sherry coming together to make a nice Italian vermouth substitute. The drink ended up being a relative of a Manhattan for me as a result. It was subtle and the cinnamon was great.
The closing taste was the “fakie” Alexander. It was smooth, light, and sweet – pretty much what you’d expect from a twist on a brandy alexander. Unfortunately my handwriting is a bit unclear as to what Adam used to substitute for the creme de cacao. Oh well. It was good. Trust me.
If you’re not making Bar Pilar’s Tuesday Cocktail Sessions a regular or at least semi-regular part of your DC cocktail experience, you’re seriously missing out. It’s always fun and Adam’s drinks are some of the most original I’ve found in DC. Plus, at $36 for the menu, it’s a great deal.