Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | May 13, 2009

The Penultimate Tuesday Cocktail Session

Last night I went to the last normal Tuesday Cocktail Session – Adam Bernbach’s weekly cocktail night at Bar Pilar. I’ve always said that the Cocktail Sessions were the best regular event in the DC craft bartending world. Adam is leaving Bar Pilar later this month and next Tuesday will be the Black Session — the final edition of Adam’s special menus at Bar Pilar. The Black Session will include a best-of selection of cocktails from the Tuesday Cocktail Sessions, so it won’t necessarily be a normal menu.

The opening taste last night was the Black Spot Punch. It was made with cachaca, grapefruit juice, a black pepper honey syrup, sparkling wine, and a lime peel; I may be missing an ingredient here. It started off with a very strong hit of honey and fruit. As has been common for opening tastes, this was light with a great sparkling complexion from the wine. Initially the cachaca was very subdued, really only showing up on about three levels into the drink’s profile. About halfway through, the cachaca really started to come out and play a much stronger role, balancing out the honey. I thought this was a great opening and exactly why the small cocktails Adam starts with are great to set the table for the evening.

The second cocktail was called Linen. It was my favorite of the night and one of my favorite cocktails I can recall from any Cocktail Session. It was made with gin, white port, apricot liqueur and Peychaud’s bitters. It was incredibly well balanced, with nearly equal play between the gin, apricot and port. The Peychaud’s added a nice touch of anise at the end. On whole, the drink had an almost bitter orange taste, but with sweetness reminded me of Aperol, which was fitting considering what came next.

Jaz Son’s Daiquiri was a great variation on a classic daiquiri. There was a true balance between the rum, Aperol, and lime in the drink. It also had apricot liqueur in it, though I found it played a much smaller role in the drink.

The last full cocktail was called Hollands, made with rum, sherry, pine liquor and angostura bitters. Like the Linen, it was clean, and crisp. The pine flavor added really nice complexity, eliciting a strong sense of spring. The rum is strong, but smooth and the sherry added a great deal of depth to the drink. All in all, it was very rich but still light and easy to drink.

The closing taste, unfortunately, is victim to my poor note keeping. I don’t know its name, but it was served on the rocks (a rarity at the Cocktail Sessions I’ve been to). It was made with scotch, maple syrup, lime, and according to my notes, gin. Like I said, poor note keeping. It had a sweet and smokey flavor, with the maple syrup and peat creating a profile that would probably be great alongside a plate of barbecue on a hot summer day.

Clearly this menu showed the range of Adam’s tastes and interests. Each cocktail was quite different, but all came out very well balanced and original. I’m going to miss the Tuesday Cocktail Sessions. I only hope that Adam’s next project is in DC, so we can keep enjoying his creativity and his skills.

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