Photo: Jean Schindler
Photo: Jean Schindler

The First Rule of Cocktail Club

The first rule of Cocktail Club is: tell everyone about it and make sure they go.

The “1 Ounce or 2” Cocktail Club is a new monthly pop-up in Brookland – and will be DC’s best fun-thing-to-do in the coming cold months. On the agenda: a few of DC’s most talented bartenders (Columbia Room, Gibson, Eat the Rich) get together and make what they want. You drink it. No agonizing decisions, and no arguing with friends who order duplicate drinks (thereby ruining your grand strategy to sample the entire cocktail menu).

The Cocktail Club’s inaugural menu started with a lightly pink bubbly served in a champagne flute. This was the surprise of the evening – I expected a champagne cocktail, the usual go-to for bars looking to prime a drinker’s appetite. Instead, I walked into a hit of gentian, wormwood and smoke, superimposed on a dry Grenache rosé. This was “Heidi’s Name Here,” a homemade rosé with vermouth and soda, named for a tireless champion of the evening’s project. It was delightfully complicated, dry, refreshing – and only got better when it was joined by a dish of smoked beef fat popcorn.

Round two was a choice between a classic Hemingway daq, and a modification with bourbon – I went classic. There are few things in life more refreshing than the perfect proportion of rum, citrus and maraschino. This was followed by a delightful highball made with a chrysanthemum tea-infused gin, then a Manhattan variation sexed up with some Cotton and Reed Allspice Dram (yay, locals!) Classy, but not so classy it couldn’t be paired with some spicy sous-vide ‘fried’ chicken wings in chili sauce.

The gentlemen behind the bar finished the evening with a flourish: a beautiful, complicated milk punch made with dark rum, mezcal, lemon, pineapple, coffee, cane sugar and clarified milk. Have you ever tried to make milk punch? It’s complicated, it’s finicky and it looks gross until the very last moment. But when done right, it’s silky smooth and rounds out every other flavor in the glass. If it weren’t the fifth drink of the night, I would have asked for four more.

Was it a lot of liquor? Yes. But spread out over a few hours and served with snacks prepared by B.Lin Catering’s 784 Supper Club throughout, it was a perfect weekend night out (i.e., don’t plan to wake up early the next day). The communal tables and long bar gave the evening a cozy, friendly atmosphere; District Space is a brand new “nibbles-and-tipples” event space on the old main drag of Brookland (two blocks east of the Metro station – don’t think the cookie-cutter development is all there is), and Paul Gonzalez is excited to be part of a real neighborhood (be sure to check out his super clubs!)

Remember the first rule of Cocktail Club? GO.

The next Cocktail Club gatherings are happening on November 19-20, then breaking for the holidays to resume in January. But the gentlemen of 1-Ounce-or-2 – Jackson Crowder, Luke Gossett, Paul Gonzalez and Jordan Urtz – will be mixing drinks on other random nights. Follow the Facebook page for updates.

1-Ounce-or-Two Cocktail Club at District Space: 3522 12th St. NE, DC; www.facebook.com/districtspacedc