Photo: Courtesy of Drink Company
Photo: Courtesy of Drink Company

Drink Company’s Miracle on 7th Street Is Back for Round Three

Prepare to fully embrace the holiday spirit at Drink Company’s latest pop-up bar creation. The company’s incredible Christmas bar, Miracle on 7th Street, is back for its third year in Shaw and will stay open until December 31. With a lineup of increasingly successful pop-ups, including this summer’s Game of Thrones pop-up and this fall’s Halloween-themed PUB DREAD, this has to be their most impressive work yet.

Per usual, the bar is set up in three adjoining bars, each with a different theme. The first room resembles a classic winter wonderland with pretty white décor and sparkly snowflake wall details, with a mini-train running circles around the ceiling. The second room, which is just one doorway over, resembles an ode to the Jewish family tradition on Christmas Day – Chinese food and a movie. The bar is completely decked out in Chinese food boxes hanging from the ceiling, and movie posters and Chinese food menus plastered on the walls with a giant menorah in the window.

The last room is my personal favorite, which includes several dazzling details for all the Christmas lovers out there to swoon over such as magical wreaths and impressive nutcrackers along the wall; plus, Santa’s sleigh, a giant decorated Christmas tree and ornaments galore hanging from the ceiling to make you feel like you’re actually inside a Christmas tree. I’m predicting that people will be lining up all season to take pictures in front of the Beyoncé-inspired wall painting that reads, “I Sleigh All Day.”

Most of the cocktail names on the drink menu are a reference to an iconic Christmas movie. One drink in particular that made its return to the Miracle on 7th Street bar is Snow Angels, Ice Skating, Cookie Dough and Snuggles. It’s basically Christmas in a cup, or dessert in alcohol form. Made with cookie dough-infused vodka, coffee and hazelnut liqueurs, and crème de cacao, this drink is the perfect way to end any night, plus it’s topped with a generous cookie dough bite.

Some other refreshing go-to concoctions on the menu include Whobilation, a wintery cranberry gin and tonic, and I Sleigh, All Day, an apple brandy and apple cider drink made with sparkling water. Dare to be bold with the Hallelujah! Holy Shit! Where’s the Tylenol?, a unique scotch drink with ginger flavors, or the Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corns and Syrup drink that is pure peppermint heaven.

Miracle on 7th Street is sure to impress cocktail enthusiasts all over DC with its unique takes on seasonal drinks. See the other crazy-amazing holiday cocktails that Drink Company is offering this season here.

Miracle on 7th Street: 1839 7th St. NW, DC; www.popupbardc.com

OysterRiot_11172017 (94)

Old Ebbitt Grill’s 23rd Annual Oyster Riot

Celebrating its 23rd Anniversary, the Oyster Riot is one of the greatest parties of the year in Washington DC. The Riot is DC’s preeminent food and wine event. Friday and Saturday night, nearly 1000 people devour tens of thousands of oysters while enjoying the gold medal winners of the International Wines for Oysters Competition and grooving to some awesome tunes. Photos: Mark Raker

NatGeoNights_11162017 (40)

Nat Geo Nights: Silk Road

Guests of Nat Geo Nights: Silk Road got to travel the ancient network of trade routes extending from eastern China to the Mediterranean Sea with archaeologist Michael Frachetti, travel journalist Emma Thomson, and wildlife biologist Mimi Kessler. Photos: Devin Overbey

Modern_11172017 (106)

Shorts & Sips at The Modern at Art Place

Shorts & Sips at The Modern at Art Place included complimentary cocktails from DC mixologists, light appetizers and short films from the DC Shorts Film Festival on big screens. Photos: Mark Van Bergh

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 owner 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 and Paul Gonzalez – 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

A_Night_of_Starz_11132017 (69)

Washington Redskins Josh Norman Presents A Night with the Starz

Washington Redskins Corner Back Josh Norman hosted his Inaugural Night with the Starz at The Watergate hotel to benefit his charitable foundation, Starz24. Guests enjoyed dinner and drinks, a special interview session with Josh and the chance to win fabulous items in the silent and live auctions.

The mission of Josh Norman’s Starz24 Foundation is to provide enrichment to children through community events and youth programs. With an emphasis on fitness and teamwork, Starz24 challenges youth to participate and excel in areas that help develop strong interpersonal skills and awareness of the world around them. Photos: Mark Van Bergh

GordonBiersch_DC_sampling_110717 (35)

Beer Sampling at Chinatown Gordon Biersch

On Tap hosted a November beer sampling event at Chinatown Gordon Biersch. Guests enjoyed complimentary appetizers, a raffle for a Gordon Biersch gift card, and were able to purchase full pours of the beer. Photos: Mark Raker

Urban

Dia de Los Muertos 2017

This fall we stopped by our favorite latino bars to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos! You may have caught us at Senor Tequila, El Tio,  El Rey, Cafe Citron, Don Juans, Urban BBQ and more to celebrate the day of the deal with Modelo Especial.

Photo: Rey Lopez
Photo: Rey Lopez

New Notable No Longer: November 2017

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town, the top culinary news of the month and recent closings. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new, notable and no longer in the DC area.

NEW

Bresca

Open: September 22
Location: 14th Street Corridor
Lowdown: Rising star Ryan Ratino burst onto the 14th Street scene with a restaurant of his own this fall, just months after Ripple – his former home – closed. Bresca is billed as a modern bistro, inspired by the Parisian movement of bistronomy (a blend of the words bistro and gastronomy), which marries upscale French gastronomic cooking and the more vibrant, casual atmosphere of a bistro. Both the cuisine and the décor are as quirky as Ratino’s personality. Dubbed “noodlehead” by his father as a child, Ratino’s favorite dishes are those involving pasta, and they’re also some of the most popular on the menu so far. Just the smell of the truffle-kissed sea urchin linguini had me drooling, and I couldn’t stop eating the chestnut agnolotti stuffed with rabbit. Seasonal ingredients like mushrooms and root vegetables take center stage this time of year, but the dishes will change regularly. One constant will be dry-aged beef, which is a passion project for Ratino. He has a few tricks up his sleeve to age the meat and keep it at an affordable price point. The dining room is boisterous and eclectic, with offbeat design elements and upbeat music. One wall is studded with gold fish heads, one is lined with embalmed moss and another has illustrations of humans with animal heads. Bresca means honeycomb in Spanish, so the motif is present throughout, with hexagons on the wall and bee-shaped vessels for cocktails. 1906 14th St. NW, DC; www.brescadc.com

Calico
Open: October 8
Location: Shaw
Lowdown: The team behind The Fainting Goat and Tiger Fork are inviting the whole neighborhood over to hang out in their backyard in Blagden Alley. Partners Nathan Beauchamp and Greg Algie wanted Calico to feel like your neighbor’s yard during a weekend cookout: laidback and comfortable with simple but satisfying food. The interior has the feel of an industrial art studio, with homey touches like floral upholstery on the bar stools, pink tile, picnic tables and printed retro light fixtures that Algie describes as “grandma globes.” The outdoor space is an urban oasis, with string lights, lanterns, rustic planters and a vintage greenhouse surrounded by wooden fencing. The food takes its cue from the Eastern Shore, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Seafood options like fried clams and steamed shrimp evoke coastal vibes, while tomato pie and roast pork are straight out of Philly. Beauchamp turns Jersey eggplant parm into finger food with breaded eggplant sticks smothered in cheese and served with marinara for dipping. Special feasts are also in the works, from lobster boils to prime rib dinners. To keep things casual, food is served on compostable paper products and all the mugs for soup are mismatched. The crowd favorite from the bar is the juice box – cocktails served in nostalgia-inducing pouches. I loved sipping on the Red Brick Road, with Lyon Distilling White Rum, Licor 43, dry vermouth, caramel and lime. Their drink menu also includes draft beer, wine and cocktails, plus wine and beer by the glass and bottle. 50 Blagden Alley NW, DC; www.calicodc.com

Dio Wine Bar
Open: September 20
Location: H Street Corridor
Lowdown: The natural wine scene in DC hasn’t yet flourished like it has in other cities across the U.S. and Europe, but Stacey Khoury-Diaz is trying to change that with Dio, the capital’s first natural wine bar. She didn’t set out to convert wine drinkers, but rather to provide options for those who are curious about organic and biodynamic wines. All 30 of the bottles on her rotating wine list are made with minimal additives and minimal intervention in the cellar, and many are certified organic by various national certification programs. Khoury-Diaz says it comes down to transparency. Since wine isn’t required to have an ingredient label, she vets vineyards and producers to provide the most unadulterated wines for her patrons. Just like with conventional wines, the regions of origin, varietals, flavor profiles and prices vary widely, and Dio aims to showcase a range of options, including more unusual offerings like orange wine. Though Khoury-Diaz and her bartenders aren’t certified sommeliers, their practical mastery of the subject is evident as they make recommendations and educate drinkers about the production process behind the wine in their glass. Beyond grapes, Dio offers local beers and ciders, nonalcoholic beverages, and cocktails featuring local spirits. The food menu stars housemade breads, cheese, charcuterie and unfussy seasonal snacks. 904 H St. NE, DC; www.diowinebar.com

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
Open: September 25
Location: 14th Street Corridor
Lowdown: The Ohio ice cream brand with a cult following has finally landed in DC, bringing with it artisanal scoops made from grass-fed milk and farm-fresh ingredients. Founder and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Jeni Britton Bauer had her eye on the DC market for years because of the growing customer base. The new shop follows the company’s clean, white aesthetic, with bright accents like yellow Clare Vivier wallpaper, teal paint and a gallery wall that tells the story of Jeni’s ice cream from cow to cone. Devoted dairy fans can find all the most popular signature flavors, including the famous salty caramel and the impossibly rich darkest chocolate. The fall flavors are now available as well, with creative takes like sweet potato with torched marshmallows and pumpkin five-spice. Choosing a favorite flavor is an impossible task, but the gooey butter cake stole my heart on a recent visit. The ice creams are available in cones or bowls, as well as in decadent sundaes or between scratch-made macaron cookies. 1925 14th St. NW, DC; www.jenis.com/14th-street

NOTABLE

The Emporiyum
Date: November 10-12
Location: Dock 5 at Union Market
Lowdown: This massive artisan food market is the perfect place to start your holiday shopping, or just to stock up on tasty goodies for yourself. More than 100 vendors from the DC area and across the country will set up shop and showcase their products for the whole weekend. Enjoy bites, sips and samples from Al Volo, Toli Moli, Michele’s Granola, Sfoglini, Shake Shack, Sir Kensington’s, Bushwick Kitchen, Prescription Kitchen, Timber Pizza Company, CoCo & Co, Charm City Meadworks, One Eight Distilling, Green Hat, Cotton & Reed, Element Shrub and many more. Tickets are $15-$25 for general admission and $40 for VIP, which includes an hour of exclusive access to the marketplace. There will also be a preview party on Friday with complimentary cocktails. 1309 5th St. NE, DC; www.theemporiyum.com

DC Cocktail Week
Date: November 13-19
Location: Various locations
Lowdown: Cocktail Week is just like Restaurant Week, but with craft mixed drinks in the spotlight. Participating restaurants and bars around the region will feature creative cocktail and food pairings at affordable prices. The promotion is presented by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) and will run for one week. Find specials at spots like BaBa, Charlie Palmer Steak, China Chilcano, Convivial, DBGB, District Distilling, Etete, Firefly, Indique, Jack Rose, Stable, Quarter & Glory, Sushiko and more. Details are available online at www.dccocktailweek.com.

NOW OPEN

Akira Ramen & Izakaya: 1800 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD; www.akiraramen.com
Ancient Rivers: 2121 14th St. NW, DC; www.ancientriversdc.com
Bold Bite Market: 1028 19th St. NW, DC; www.boldbite.net
Brick & Mortar: 919 19th St. NW, DC; www.brickmortardc.com
The Brighton: 949 Water St. SW, DC; www.brighton-dc.com
City Tap House Dupont: 1250 Connecticut Ave. Suite 105, NW, DC; www.dupont.citytap.com
Crimson Whiskey Bar : 627 H St. NW, DC; www.crimson-dc.com
Dirty Water: 816 H St. NE, DC; www.dirtywaterdc.com
Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi: 791 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.delmardc.com
Florentijn: 890 Water St. SW, DC; www.wharfdc.com
Hank’s Oyster Bar: 701 Wharf St. SW, DC: www.hanksoysterbar.com
Harper Macaw Chocolate Makers: 3160 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.harpermacaw.com
Jenny’s at the Wharf: 668 Water St. SW, DC; www.jennysdc.com
JINYA Ramen Bar: 1336 14th St. NW, DC; www.jinya-ramenbar.com
Kapnos College Park: 7777 Baltimore Ave. College Park, MD; www.kapnostaverna.com
Kirwan’s on the Wharf: 749 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.wharfdc.com
Kith & Kin: 801 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.kithandkindc.com
Little Beet : 1212 18th St. NW, DC; www.thelittlebeet.com
Makeda: 516 S Van Dorn St. Alexandria, VA; www.makedarestaurant.com
Nocturne (enter through Sugar Shack Donuts): 1932 9th St. NW, DC; www.nocturnebar.com
Pear Plum Café: 3064 Mount Pleasant St. NW, DC; www.pearplumcafe.com
Requin at the Wharf: 100 District Square, SW, DC; www.requinbymic.com/dc
Sequoia: 3000 K St. NW, DC; www.arkrestaurants.com/sequoia
Shop Made in DC: 1330 19th St. NW, DC; www.shopmadeindc.com
Taylor Gourmet: 85 District Square, SW, DC; www.taylorgourmet.com
Velo Café at District Hardware: 730 Maine Ave. SW, DC; www.dcvelocafe.com

POP-UPS

Augment VR Arcade and Bar: First floor of 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.augmentarcade.com
Future of Sports Bar: 700 H St. NE, DC; www.madeinthedistrict.us
Town Tavern’s Harry Potter Pub: 2323 18th St. NW, DC ; www.towntaverndc.com

NO LONGER

8407 Kitchen & Bar in Silver Spring
Cantina Marina in Southwest Waterfront
Dave’s Seafood & Subs in Chantilly
Kitty’s Saloon in H Street Corridor
Liberty Tree in H Street Corridor
Ocean Blue in Sterling
Oriental East in Silver Spring
Rural Society in downtown DC

Thanksgiving Alternatives

Thanksgiving Meal Makeovers

Thanksgiving – redolent of tradition and green bean casserole.

But scrolling through Twitter recently, I halted at a photo cheerfully captioned “holiday ideas.” It was of a squid-stuffed turkey, tentacles bursting from the bird’s cavity and swirled around the roasting pan. Turquid? Squirkey? It was horrifying, it was intriguing and it got me thinking – green bean casserole is not mandatory. So, I turned to a superstar team of culinary advisors who could guide me down unknown paths.

First up, David Guas – the popular, NOLA-born chef behind numerous award-winning projects who has made DC home. His most recent adventure began this fall with the opening of Lil’B, a New Orleans-infused coffee bar and eatery just off Scott Circle. Guas, who has hosted his family’s Thanksgiving celebration for 15 years, advises me to slow down.

“It’s not about breaking tradition,” he says. “It’s about mixing things up, and making the celebration fun and different.”

Guas gets the party started with lots of appetizers and snacks.

“Getting to the table is almost as important as the dinner itself. It’s the little things that bring people together and put them in the mood for the table.”

These “little things” include shucking raw oysters to start, and then enjoying homemade pimento cheese and breads and cranberry-infused sippers. Guas says he does something different every year. For the centerpiece, he sources black-feathered heritage breed turkeys from Pennsylvania, which he brines using apple cider and honey. The bird is then spatchcocked, the recently-trendy method that involves removing the backbone and flattening, and which allows for quicker and more even cooking. This bird is served with oyster dressing, a Louisiana tradition.

For the dessert makeover, I pick the brain of pastry chef legend Tiffany MacIsaac of Buttercream Bakery fame. I bemoan the ubiquitous pumpkin pie, often with soggy crusts and bland fillings. MacIsaac has the perfect rescue: use apple butter instead of pumpkin puree. I am startled by this brilliant simplicity.

“My friend raved about finding this at a random side-of-the-road stand, so I decided to take a stab – and it was amazing,” she remembers. “When we introduced the pie in the store for our first Thanksgiving last year, it sold out immediately.”

I begin mentally bracing myself to stand in lines in a few weeks.

“Oh, we’ll probably do something different this year,” she laughs.

Okay, fine – the most creative bakery in DC has to keep us on our toes for its second Thanksgiving. So what’s her pro-tip for us hardened DIYers?

“Just make sure the apple butter is dense. It should look like pumpkin puree, which could just as easily be called pumpkin butter!”

My dinner planning is almost complete – except for one key detail: drinks. Growing up, our Thanksgivings were PG, with kids and adults alike downing sparkling cider and organic eggnog – and only because my parents are good hosts, a bottle of Bushmills would emerge from storage so our wayward cousin Jerry could spike his eggnog. But now that the kids are grown up, the cider has been replaced by champagne and everyone is taking nips of Bushmills. It’s time to mix things up.

I catch up with the crazy-talented head bartender at Hank’s Cocktail Bar, Jessica Weinstein, for guidance. Her “Yam, Van, Thank You Ma’am” is Thanksgiving in a glass: Angel’s Envy Bourbon, black pepper-sweet potato-vanilla syrup, lemon and Bordeaux. To make the syrup, she roasts and purées sweet potatoes, then sugars them down, with a final push through a strainer to remove any remaining starchiness.

“I use a lot of sweet potatoes during the holidays,” she notes.

The “Aunt Ruth,” coming to the new Hank’s at The Wharf, will feature sweet potato-sage-marshmallow syrup, along with Smooth Ambler Contradiction Bourbon and an egg white.

“There are just fewer things in season I can use in cocktails.”

But seasonality is no barrier to creativity.

“We are doing a Thanksgiving tasting menu at the cocktail bar,” Jessica begins.

I instantly blurt, “Gravy shots!”

She laughs.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try that about four weeks ago. But no, that won’t be on the menu!”

Instead, the bar’s popular “Food Production 101” – a rotating cocktail menu that riffs off classic dishes and food preparation techniques – will feature a half-dozen drinks directly inspired by Thanksgiving.

“Think a Waldorf salad cocktail,” she hints.

For the home cocktail enthusiast, Weinstein recommends looking at what you’re already cooking with.

“Some folks use a lot of honey during the holidays, and honey gives amazing depth to cocktails. What herbs are you using? Popular flavors like rosemary can be incorporated into so many classic cocktails.”

So I’m set. Nothing as weird as a squidurky for me this year, but the party is getting a makeover. Mom, brace yourself!

Buttercream Bakeshop: 1250 9th St. NW, DC ; www.buttercreamdc.com

Hank’s Cocktail Bar: 819 Upshur St. NW, DC; www.hankscocktailbar.com

Lil’B: 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC ; www.thedarcyhotel.com/restaurant-and-bar/lil-b