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Passport Potables

DC’s most creative mixologists find new ways to bring the world to your cocktail glass.

Rí Rá‘s whiskey sommelier Rachael Ewing uses a clear spirit from Tanzania for her Going Solo cocktail.

To source the most intriguing ingredients for their cocktails, DC’s jet-setting bartenders now tote home exotic, impossible-to-find spices and liqueurs—or rely on globe-trotting friends with a little extra space in their luggage. Their cache will make its way onto new drink menus this spring and summer, and five mixologists gave us a preview.

The Cocktail Going Solo at Rí Rá The Far-Flung Ingredient Konyagi, a clear African spirit native to Tanzania, is distilled from molasses. Whiskey sommelier Rachael Ewing discovered it while she was working in Dar es Salaam. The Trip Ewing shakes dry vermouth, simple syrup and an egg white with the Konyagi—also fittingly referred to as East African fire water—and garnishes her creation with a brandied cherry. “This is barely legal outside of Tanzania. I had a friend bring it back,” she says. 3125 M St. NW, 202.751.2111

The Cocktail Uno Speciale at Fiola Mare The Far-Flung Ingredient Cappelletti Aperitivo is a liqueur with Campari’s bitterness and the brightness of Aperol. It’s produced with a guarded secret recipe, held for four generations by the Cappelletti family in Italy’s Alto Adige—native to bar manager Luca Giovannini. The Trip Giovannini douses a sugar cube with peach bitters and tops it with gin, prosecco and the liqueur. “This drink is named for the spritz ordered by Austrian soldiers in Trentino during the wars,” he says. “I have known the Cappelletti family since childhood, and now being able to use their product makes me feel at home.” 3050 K St. NW, Suite 101, 202.628.0065

The Cocktail Peep Show at Red Light Cocktails & Dessert Bar The Far-Flung Ingredient Housemade sloe gin, which features sloe berries picked by partners and mixologists Ari and Micah Wilder while hiking in the United Kingdom during the first frost last fall The Trip The Wilders’ refreshingly tangy tipple combines sloe gin with geneva and Pimm’s ginger, topped with cucumber. “Sloe drupes are a small fruit relative to the plum,” Micah says. “The traditional way to make sloe gin is to soak the sloes in gin with sugar to extract the juice from the fruit.” 1401 R St. NW, 202.234.0400 

The Cocktail Dovetail at Daikaya The Far-Flung Ingredient 1941 Eau-de-Vie Chartreuse, which bar manager Lukas Smith recently obtained from a private cellar in Paris. The complexity of this rare marriage of the more readily available green and yellow varieties has made him a believer of the myth that chartreuse is one of the few spirits that continues to evolve in the bottle. The Trip For the communal creation, Smith mingles Lassaigne Extra Brut Blanc de Blanc with Pierre Ferrand 1845 cognac, Campari, lemon juice and the French liqueur. “A marvelous thing happens when the aromatic bitterness of chartreuse and Campari intertwine—they take turns dominating the drink’s finish.” 705 Sixth St. NW, 202.589.1600 

Styling by Alison Beshai