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Kelly A. Magyarics | Photo: Greg Powers | April 30, 2013
Four of DC’s best mixologists give us their favorite new takes on drinks inspired by travel.
Ernest Hemingway, most likely with a stiff drink in his hand, once suggested, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Papa was probably right: Any sojourn or expedition equips us with a fresh perspective gleaned from new encounters and experiences. DC mixologists travel the world—sometimes on their own dime—for liquid inspiration and return with indigenous ingredients and techniques that stir them behind the bar. We found four drinks that will give you a ticket to ride.
The Drink Veruka Salt
Where barmini, 855 E St. NW, 202.393.4451, minibarbyjoseandres.com
Inspiration Tearing open a bag of roasted peanuts on a long flight to Buenos Aires motivated cocktail innovator Juan Coronado to craft a drink to capture their essence and simplicity. “As I was eating the peanuts, my brain was spinning on how I could turn these goodies into a cocktail,” says Coronado. He synergizes science with bartending by allowing roasted peanuts to rest in a neutral spirit. From there, he uses a rotary vacuum to transform them into a clear distillate. He adds the peanut potion to a grog made with pineapple, honey and apple cider vinegar. The tipple is served in a rocks glass over one large ice cube that’s sprinkled with crushed peanuts.
The Drink Los Rudos
Where Range, 5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 201, 202.803.8020, voltrange.com
Inspiration No matter where Bar Manager Owen Thomson traveled during a two-week trip in Chile—from the Atacama Desert to La Serena—one ubiquitous ingredient piqued his palate. “Aji amarillos were everywhere,” he says. “I was surprised to see all these peppers I’d never even heard of.” Thomson returned with a goal of making the South American staple into a drink and created a spicy, smoky cocktail named for the bad guys in Mexican wrestling. He infuses syrup with the slender chiles, mixes it with Del Maguey Mezcal Vida to bring out the pepper’s roasted flavor, Lillet blanc and grapefruit juice to ramp up the pepper’s citrus notes, and egg white for body and texture. It’s served in a coupe glass.
The Drink Urs
Where The Red Hen, 1822 First St. NW, 202.525.3021, theredhendc.com
Inspiration Business partners and longtime friends Sebastian Zutant, Michael Friedman and Mike O’Malley gathered inspiration for their new restaurant concept last year during a tour of Northern Italy. The trio began in the Piedmont town of Alba, where moscato-based Grappa originates, and ended up in Alto Adige near the Austrian border, a region known for its aromatic and crisp white wines. Zutant’s Negroni riff salutes Beverage Director Urs Vetter at Alois Lageder winery in Alto Adige. He eschews gin and vermouth for moscato grappa and Alois Lageder’s Grüner Veltliner, stirred with Campari in a pitcher, on the rocks, and garnished with a lemon peel.
The Drink Expatriate
Where The Rye Bar, 1050 31st St. NW, 202.617.2400, thegrillroomdc.com/rye-bar-en.html
Inspiration When opening the Capella Bangkok, Food and Beverage Manager Will Rentschleter noticed expatriates everywhere. The complexity of Thai cuisine wowed him, including fragrant ingredients like galangal and kaffir limes. For his aromatic elixir, he mixes vodka with muddled kaffir lime leaves and slices, and a housemade ginger beer from young galangal. It’s served with crushed ice and topped with sec or demi-sec Champagne. “This drink, like Thai cuisine, hits on all areas of the palate—spicy, sweet and sour.” says Rentschleter.