Tag Archives: good cocktails in DC

Gone fishin’

Last week’s episode of Top Chef featured chef Eric Ripert as guest judge. And now, I am totally crushing on him. He was super friendly and sweet and encouraging, and he seemed to be without pretense. He has definitely skyrocketed into my Top 5 celebrity chef picks. And, as good timing would have it, Ms. S&C was able to visit Chef Ripert’s Washington, DC, restaurant, Westend Bistro, over the weekend. Like the acclaimed Le Bernardin, seafood is the star at Westend. The Salmon Rillettes and Fish Burger may sound like average dishes, but they were excellent. Ms. S&C had a great cocktail too – the Memorial Bridge Sunset was made with Campari and Champagne, garnished with a dollop of pink grapefruit sorbet. I’ve never mixed Campari with Champagne before, but I definitely will again.

On to the Top Chef recap. The Quickfire Challenge had the cheftestants competing in a three-round fish filleting tournament with sardines, Artic char and fresh water eels. Stefan easily beat Hosea in the final round, after hammering the eel to his cutting board and peeling back the skin. It was a little disconcerting, to be honest. Stefan did not get immunity but got a huge advantage in the Elimination Challenge. After dining with Chef Ripert at Le Bernardin for lunch, the cheftestants had to draw knives to see which of his dishes they had to recreate for the Elimination. Stefan’s Quickfire win meant he could choose his dish outright. Naturally, Stefan chose the easiest dish and tops Fabio and Carla to get another win. Hosea, Leah and Jamie were on the bottom. I would have paid money to see Leah go, but it was Jamie who was sent home, presumably for not liking braised celery and not knowing how to use serrano ham in a sauce.

lobster-asparagusStefan’s winning dish of lobster and asparagus with hollandaise

For the drink pairing, I would personally have a glass of champagne or a crisp sauvignon blanc with this dish, as to not overpower the lobster.  So, in honor of a killer deal I found on champagne over at Pearson’s Wine & Spirits, I’ll pair it with the Fat Bastard Blanc de Blancs. They are practically giving it away over there — $5.99 a bottle! I so regret not buying a case.

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C advice–what to drink for the Globes?

Ms. S&C,
After two weeks of drinking champagne over the holidays I need something new for the Golden Globes on Sunday night.  I’m not having a party, so I truly don’t need an entire punch (although, it would be a challenge I’d have to accept).  Any suggestions for a fancy pants drink while watching the Globes?

Many thanks,
Looking for a little fancy

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Dear Looking for a little fancy,
I may have a cocktail for you.  While your bar might not be stocked with this spirit (mine isn’t, yet), St. Germain is definitely au courante.  A product of France, this tres stylish liqueur is made from handpicked elderflower blossoms.  I recently tasted it at EatBar, a place that serves of-the-moment cocktails with fine ingredients.  EatBar’s Alchemist Cocktail (I know the name makes it sound like a science experiment rather than a lavish cocktail) contained St. Germain, Sazerac rye and lemon, shaken thoroughly, strained into a martini glass and garnished with minced lavender.  It was aromatic and divine.  And, while I know you said you wanted a break from champagne, the signature St. Germain Cocktail contains champagne (or dry white wine, Prosecco or Cava) mixed and club soda.  Maybe you could think of it as a really fancy pants spritzer?

My second choice would be the Ritz Cocktail.  Aptly named for this occasion and another-fancy-pants-drink-because-its-French.  I really love it.

Hope this gives you some inspiration — let me know what you decide!

Happy watching (and drinking),golden-globes
Ms. S&C

P.S.  Which Best Actress Nominee do you think will wear the best knock-out shoes?  Anne Hathaway, Angelina, Meryl Streep, Kristin Scott Thomas, or Kate Winslet?  My money is on Kate.  After the show, we’ll have to dish about our fashion faves.  And more fun, the fashion faux pas.

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St. Germain Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts Champagne (or dry white wine, Prosecco or Cava)
  • 1 ½ parts St. Germain
  • 2 parts sparkling water or club soda
  • Lemon (for garnish)

Directions:
Stir ingredients in a tall ice-filled glass, mixing thoroughly. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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Ritz Cocktail
This recipe is a variation from many I’ve seen, but I think it is much better (no need for orange juice).  Recipe by Dale DeGroff; presented by Phil Greene at the MOTAC Holiday Cocktails Seminar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Martell’s Medallion VSOP Cognac
  • ½ oz. Cointreau
  • ¼ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • ¼ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Champagne
  • Flamed orange peel for garnish

Directions:
To make one, shake cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, then top with chilled champagne.  To make a batch, multiply first four ingredients by the number of drinks you’d like to make, stir well in a pitcher, then strain into chilled cocktail glasses, about one-third full each.  Top each with chilled champagne.

For the garnish:
The aroma and flavor in citrus fruits is concentrated in the oil cells of its peel.  By extracting the oil, you can add the essence of the fruit to drinks.  Large, thick-skinned navel oranges are recommended for flaming.  Slice a piece of the peel about the size of two quarters, light a lighter (no butane) over the drink, and squeeze the peel over the flame.  The oils will catch fire as they fall on the surface of the drink.

posted by Ms. S&C

Seven good years

Mr. and Ms. S&C have been married seven years now.  It has become a tradition to celebrate the occasion with a super fancy dinner – one of those dinners you can only afford once a year.  After year one, we went to Marcels, and we’re still talking about the duck confit and chesnut soup we had.  Last year, we visited the tasting room at Restaurant Eve, and it was a marathon of 12 courses.  On Saturday night, we headed to CityZen, at the Mandarin Oriental, with high expectations.

We opted for the amazing six course tasting menu and the sommelier’s wine pairing.  Before I get to the food and wine, let me say that they do everything right over at CityZen.  They anticipate your every need, and no detail is too small.

The gentleman started the evening off with a Chivas and soda.  He appreciated that the soda was served on the side, so you can add as much, or as little, as you want.  The lady began with one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails, the Peachy Keen, made with a peach-ginger flavored vodka, iced tea, and peach puree.  It tasted like peach iced tea and was a little too sweet for my liking.  That’s okay, she knew she had six rounds ahead of her.

The complete tasting menu and sommelier’s pairing is below.  The first course of tuna was paired with an excellent, light Reisling that wasn’t too sweet.  The sweet Semillon, however, was a perfect match for the rich foie gras.  The branzino may have been my favorite course, and it was paired with one of my favorite types of wine, Pinot Noir.  An earthy Grenache/Mourvedre accompanied the succulent veal shortribs.  A trio of micro-brewed beers was a surprise pairing for the plentiful cheese cart that was wheeled over.  And lastly, Port was served with dessert, which was probably my least favorite course.  While a fun idea, I just didn’t love the warm peanut butter and jelly concoction.

CityZen’s Tasting Menu and Pairing

CONFIT OF BLUEFIN TUNA AND TORO SASHIMI WITH HEIRLOOM POTATO SALAD AND PEPPER AOLI
2005 Schloss Gobelsburg, Urgestein
Reisling
Kremstal, Austria

SAUTEED MOULARD DUCK FOIE GRAS WITH MISSION FIGS AND CELERY BRANCH
2005 Margan Family
Botrytis Semillon
Hunter Valley, Australia

CRISPY SKIN FILET OF MEDITERRANEAN BRANZINO WITH ROAST GARLIC CAVATELLI, DRIED SAUSAGE, ITALIAN PARSLEY AND BOTTARGA DE MULLET
1999 Lignier-Michelot
Pinot Noir
Chambolle-Musigny, France

BRAISED MARCHO FARMS VEAL SHORTRIBS WITH SAVOY CABBAGE, CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS AND BEURRE COLBERT
2005 Domaine de Font Sane, Terrasses des Dentelles
Grenache/Mourvedre
Gigondas, France

ASSORTED ARTISANAL CHEESES
Trio of Micro Brews
Hofbrau Munche Hefe Weizen
Brooklyn Brown Ale
North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

PEANUT BUTTER AND VALRHONA CHOCOLATE CHIBOUST WITH TERRAPIN STATION CONCORD GRAPE SAUCE
1995 Smith Woodhouse Late Bottle Vintage
Touriga Nacional/Tinta Cao
Duoro, Portugal

Assorted artisanal cheeses paired with a trio of micro-brewed beers at CityZen

All in all, I can’t imagine a better dining experience, or a better way to spend my last seven years.

posted by Ms. S&C

Magnum opus

Since checking out DC’s new speakeasy-style cocktail establishment, and meeting one of the masterminds behind the place, I rounded up some friends for cocktails at Central. Justin Guthrie, mixologist at the super-secret-speakeasy, is also bar manager at Central.

Here are the cocktails we tried:

  • Blackberry Bourbon Cobbler – made with Old Weller Antique Bourbon, blackberries, lemon juice, powdered sugar. S&C’s take: we were overpowered by the bourbon at first, but the flavors came together after a few sips. Love the presentation and fresh blackberries.
  • Black Pepper Gin Rickey – made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, house-made black pepper and lime soda. S&C’s take: our fave, no question.
  • Ginger Daiquiri made with Neisson Rhum Agricole, Crème de Gingembre, ginger syrup, fresh lime juice. S&C take: This was our second favorite. It reminds me of the ginger limeade I have at Teaism all the time. Ginger+lime = you can’t go wrong.
  • La Fee Verte – made with Kubler Absinthe, water, sugar. S&C take: Ms. S&C is trying to train her palate to like the taste of fennel. She will try to do the same with strong star anise flavor in absinthe.

The overwhelming favorite was the Black Pepper Gin Rickey. No surprise since it recently won the “Best Rickey category” at the first annual D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild competition. The Gin Rickey cocktail is a DC native, named after Col. Joe Rickey, an influential lobbyist in the late 19th century who squeezed lime and soda water into his morning bourbon.

Black pepper and lime soda may seem like a strange combination, but trust me it is very, very good. Served over ice, it has some “heat” from the pepper but it is also refreshing. The Washington Post already covered the D.C. Craft Bartenders contest, so we can bring you the complete recipe.

Black Pepper Gin Rickey
Note: You’ll need a soda siphon or ISI charger to make this cocktail. Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients:
For the black pepper-lime soda
• 8 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
• 8 ounces black pepper syrup (see below)
• 4 ounces water
For the drink
• Ice
• 1 3/4 ounces gin, preferably Bombay Sapphire
• 4 1/2 ounces black pepper-lime soda (see above)
• 3 thinly sliced lime wheels, for garnish

Directions:
For the black pepper-lime soda: Combine the lime juice, black pepper syrup and water in a soda siphon or ISI charger. Shake and charge with CO2.

For the drink: Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add the gin and the black pepper-lime soda. Garnish with the lime wheels by placing them around the inside of the glass.

For the black pepper syrup: Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup whole black peppercorns and 2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes; toast for 30 seconds, shaking often to prevent burning. Carefully add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature, then strain the syrup, discarding the solids. (This makes more syrup than is called for in this recipe; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.)

Recipe Source: Justin Guthrie, bar manager at Central in Washington, DC.

Roaring cocktails

Ms. S&C was thrilled to accept an invitation from a friend to try out a new speakeasy-style cocktail establishment in DC. Ala PX in Old Town, this classy lounge also serves up extraordinary cocktails using the finest ingredients and super-innovative techniques (Jim Beam infused with curry, or flambéed egg whites, anyone?).

They are pretty serious about keeping the place hush-hush, so I won’t mention the name here (I want to be welcomed back). You can only get in if you have a reservation (thanks again Ana!), the location is rumored to change, and the place is only open two nights a week. The atmosphere is a throwback to the 1920s-prohibition era, with bartenders is vests and a black and white movie playing (Wife vs. Secretary last night). And, the drinks. Oh, the drinks!

The drink menu has three categories: Original, Borrowed, and Classics. Between the two of us, we made sure to try all of the originals, which included their own version of a Pimms Cup (Pimms 1.5), and a strangely smoky concoction using Del Maguey Minero mezcal (Los Rudos). Other originals included shout-outs to nearby cities – Baltimore Bengali and Philly Sling.

Another highlight was the bartender/mixologist Justin. He was a real cool guy with no pretension and eager to talk (and explain) each cocktail, which are quite labor intensive. Naturally, we became increasingly chatty after each cocktail, so we asked him how he would react if someone came and asked for a vodka tonic? His answer, “I don’t think we have any vodka here.” But, they do make their own tonic.

So, friends – no pictures of the bar, no pictures of the drinks – in hopes to preserve the mystique for awhile longer (and not get thrown out of the place). I leave you with this parting shot – our shoes! Taken at a pizza joint up the street, where we split a slice after indulging in some of the best cocktails in DC.

S&C advice–what to wear with my new shoes?

Dear Ms. Shoes and Cocktails,
Here’s a picture of my new shoes. I need to build an outfit around them, and a signature drink. I heart them.

Sincerely,
Ms. Z

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Dear Ms. Z,
These shoes are très chic! I love the unique “cognac” color. In fact, the shoes themselves are quite unusual, especially the over-sized button detail. You know the thing I love about unusual shoes? They can turn a very usual outfit into something special. For the work day, you can wear the same black shirt and plain, old cardigan. Add these shoes and an over-sized necklace (gold would be a lovely compliment to caramel color), and you’ve got a spectacular outfit. Plus, you’ll also be dressed and ready for that last minute happy hour.

When I’m having drinks after work, I’m usually in the Penn Quarter. One place in the neighborhood, that has delicious cocktails bold enough to compliment these pumps, is Oyamel. I need to meet the mixologist over there because the specialty drinks rotate. I had a mango cocktail with a jalapeno infusion awhile back. Spicy goodness. It is no longer there, but the same, fine ingredients such as agave nectar and tropical fruit juices are.

Finally, I’m still one for heels on the weekend. Pair these darlings with dark denim, and you’ll be ready for dinner and a movie or a Sunday afternoon brunch.

Thanks for sharing!
Ms. S&C

In need of Shoes & Cocktail advice? Send Ms. S&C a note at: shoesandcocktails(at)yahoo(dot)com.