Actually, it’s really NOT a hard knock life, but sometimes it seems like it.
One of the funny things about looking over the past year is not just the stupid things I’ve said and then keep telling people “Hey, look at this dumb thing I said over a year ago!” Instead, it’s how much things have changed for us since then and how much more involved in the cocktail community we’ve become.
Not that it’s hard to do. The cocktail community – not just in DC, but also online and in other cities – is incredibly friendly and inclusive. There’s a sense of shared joy and camaraderie, where you’re treated as you treat others. Treat your fellow mixologists, bloggers, and general cocktailians with civility, candor, wit, and intelligence and you’ll be rewarded more than you can imagine. Take advantage of their trust or generosity and – well, you don’t want to know.
But sometimes you hit a stretch of time when blogging can feel like a job. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If I could make this my job, making as much as I do now in my “real job”, I’d do it an a heartbeat. Alas, at least right now, it is not to be, but one can always hope. In the meantime, those of us here in the Den have been keeping mighty busy!
This is a lot of stuff, so we’ll put in a cut…
Let’s go back a week or so. Let’s say…Thursday Drink Night! That’s always a night of fun and last week was no exception. I’m proud of the drink that I made up last week and would be interested to see what people thnk of it if they try it. I’d highly recommend clicking on the link but in case you’re busy or whatever, here’s the recipe (thanks to Kaiser Penguin for saving it):
Kentucky Spiced Sour
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce honey syrup (1:1 honey and water, heat until dissolved, let cool)
1 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce pimento dram
2 dashes cherry bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Friday was our official one year anniversary. To celebrate we went out to a couple of places starting at Bourbon in Adams Morgan. You can’t beat the whiskey selection at Bourbon and their bartenders are fantastic.
I was lucky enough to get there early and ran into Owen Thompson. He hooked me up with a taste of two of their new bourbons, 12 year old and 16 year old Willett. Delicious. The twelve year old was surprising subtle given its proof and the 16 year old had a spicy sweet complexity that I loved. We hung out there for a while, had some food, and then went down to Central Michel Richard to meet our friends Roy and Danielle as well as the extremely talented bar manager Justin Guthrie.
I didn’t keep track of all the cocktails – I’ll have to ask Marshall to follow-up for some, especially probably the green apple Bombay Sapphire cocktail that was truly phenomenal. Justin described to me the process later of how they do it, but to be honest, I’m still a bit fuzzy on it.
The first drink up was a grape caipirinha. It’s grape because the Leblon he uses has been infused with Concord grapes. Other than that, it’s made as a traditional caipirinha.
Next up was a ginger dacquiri. This one was made with Neisson Rhum Agricole, creme de gingembre (what, Derek couldn’t convince him to use Domaine de Canton?, he asks jokingly – I just quoted the ingredients off the menu, it might’ve used it), ginger syrup, and lime juice. Again, another tasty beverage.
Justin had to leave but put us in the hands of the lovely and talented Nikki. She made a mai tai, using extra orgeat in the mix, which I thought was very good (and made me want to experiment a bit more with tiki stuff in that way – sshhh, don’t tell Trader Tiki!).
For dinner I’d gotten the braised beef cheeks and just – wow. I mean…great googly moogly, that was good.
The last mixed drink I had for the night was a ginger Manhattan which was using, if I remember correctly using the previously mentioned Domaine de Canton. Justin had also surprised us (in abstensia) with trays of desserts. A banana split (sans ice cream), with caramel on one side and chocolate syrup on the other, plus a variation of neopolitan ice cream with a strawberry ice cream that had Marshall weak-kneed and a vanilla that blew me away, along with an incredible fudge ice cream.
I finished off the night with a bit of Four Roses bourbon, neat, but after all that we were done.
Saturday we headed out to our favorite liquor store, Ace Beverage in NW DC. I had things to pick up for other people – such as rhubarb and cherry bitters and creme de mure – as well as for myself, such as Ri 1 whiskey from Jim Beam, a bottle of Apfel Korn apple schnapps, and a backup bottle of Scarlet Ibis. Now that Ace is carrying it, I had to get some Underberg as well. I love that stuff!
Unfortunately he was out of the Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. I hit VA ABC up at the Lee-Harrelson Plaza but they didn’t have it. The guy in line in front of me was looking for it, too, and had he shut up for just a minute I would’ve told him his best bet was to go up Lee Highway a bit more to the ABC just past Glebe Road. I went there, they had it, I bought it, and I tell you what – it is damn yummy stuff.
(Mental note: I’m going to stock up on it soon, like, probably tomorrow, because after talking to Bill and Joe about it, I’m wondering how long before they simply run out.)
One other cool thing about Saturday: we ran into a reader! While at Ace, we were talking to Joe, and for the first of two times this week, thought Marshall was me. (Dear readers: Marshall is the one on the left of the header, bald with a goatee. I am on the right, clean-shaven with short brown hair.) It’s always great to read someone who reads the blog and isn’t just guilted into us pleading “come on, man, just one more hit…”
(Mental note: do not equate web hits with drug hits again.)
Sunday would’ve been quiet, but we got a new keg of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA in the kegerator. Oops.
Back to work on Monday, and my plans for a long day to make up some hours got truncated when summoned to Bailey’s to watch the Sox play with my neighbors. A liter of Paulener Oktoberfest and a few other beers later, it was on the Metro down to the final hoorah for Hummingbird to Mars.
Marshall had mentioned before that they were closing but while we were at Central Friday night Justin made sure to invite us. We got there sometime after 8 PM and there were two seats left at the bar for us where Justin was manning the shaker.
We were started off with an Archbishop’s Punch and from there worked our way through the menu. Owen was manning one station and Derek was working the tables. As the night went on a number of people from DonRockwell.com showed up, Marshall had to go home (good call there), the party became more like a party, and finally, after a vicious Stinger (which was delicious) from Justin I had to go home.
Which was just in time, given how rough Tuesday was in general.
After work on Tuesday it was the Great Hotel Bars, part 1 seminar at the Tabard Inn. For those of you not familiar with the Tabard Inn, it’s a cozy little hotel with a restaurant and bar that are doing some really cool things. Derek Brown and Phil Greene of the Museum of the American Cocktail hosted it, with special help from Chantal Tseng, head bartender at the Tabard Inn and (first I’d heard) Derek’s new fiancee’.
We also met a second reader there, Matt Browner Hamlin, who sat with Marshall, Bill of Bourbon and BreadSoda fame, and myself, and also thought Marshall was me. Marshall should be so honored! I saw that Ms. Shoes & Cocktails had signed up but she (wisely?) kept her anonymity going.
The event was very interesting. Phil gave us some background on the Museum and then went over three famous hotel bars. As he spoke, Derek, Chantal, and Megan would prepare up samples of the drinks. We hit the Singapore Sling (Raffles Hotel), Vieux Carre (Hotel Monteleone), Rob Roy (Waldorf-Astoria), the Sidecar (The Ritz), and Chantal finished us off with a Tabard cocktail made with tequila, sherry, and Drambuie. The Vieux Carre we experimented with adding in some Domaine de Canton, which we received in small sample bottles. That, of course, makes me ask: Hey, Derek, when are we getting BIG sample bottles? (grins)
Fortunately for me, each drink was quite small, so I went home, had three or four glasses of water, and went to bed.
Tonight is our first class in the EatBar Cocktail Class schedule, entitled “Stocking the Home Bar – The Showdown: Vodka vs. Gin”. Those of you who haven’t had a chance to meet Gina Chersevani or try her killer drinks are missing out!
What a week, eh? It’s not over…it’s a special early edition of TDN tomorrow, starting at 6 PM EDT in the Mixoloseum, with Jeff Berry arriving to talk about garnishes. Friday night I’ve got reservations with some friends for PX, Saturday my parents come to visit, Sunday is the DR.com picnic and later that night a UVA alumni event at the Front Page in Ballston, and next week I’ll be leaving at the end of the week to go to Pittsburgh for my brother’s bachelor party, hitting the Giants-Steelers game.
It never ends!
But it’s all fun. Just gotta remember to keep drinking water!