summer festival guide

2016 Summer Festival Guide


Fiesta Asia Silver Spring
DOWNTOWN SILVER SPRING, MD. Fiesta Asia Silver Spring is branded as our kickoff event for May. Happenings include live performances, open market exhibitors, interactive displays, AsiaMoves dance lessons and many more. Join us on the first day of May, and get a taste of Fiesta Asia. Our Maryland fair will enchant and entertain you all day long! 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Farragut Fridays
GOLDEN TRIANGLE, DC. Farragut Fridays are a full day of getting outside in the Golden Triangle.  Starting at 9 a.m. drop in for an outdoor “office” that includes free Wi-Fi, tables and chairs and games to get your creative juices flowing. At noon the picnic in the park begins. Grab a bite to eat, play lawn games (corn hole, foosball and table tennis) play with puppies and listen to live music. Then, head back after work for the Golden Cinema movie series.  Pre-show fun starts at 7:30 p.m., movies are at dusk from May 20 to July 22. This year’s movie theme is “Hail to the Chief” and features Mr. Smith goes to Washington, the Manchurian Candidate, Dave and more. The day is free. Get the complete schedule at  

Virginia Renaissance Faire
SPOTSYLVANIA, VA. The Virginia Renaissance Faire opens for its 15th year on Saturday, May 7 for five weekends of historical fun and merriment. Set on the grounds of Lake Anna Winery, the Faire is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. Admission is $10 and free for children five and under. The Faire features live music and shows and over 70 merchants with food, crafts, games, clothing and art. A blacksmith offers custom work and demonstrations. Plus, don’t miss the Tavern with live entertainment or the wine tasting and sales kiosk with local Lake Anna Winery wines.

Bethesda Fine Arts Festival
BETHESDA, MD. Live rock, jazz and reggae music! Walk through the festival and enjoy looking at unique jewelry, clothing and furniture that’ll be on display. Then stop by the restaurants to enjoy pizza, sandwiches and ice cream. Free.  

Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival
RESTON TOWN CENTER, VA. Join us in celebrating the 25 th Annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. Since 1991, the nonprofit Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) has produced the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, rated one of the best outdoor art festivals in the country. The festival is free and open to the public, although $5 donations per adult in support of GRACE are encouraged and appreciated. Festival attendees will enjoy viewing inspiring and innovative art in a wide variety of media and styles; interacting directly with artists from around the country; and exploring their own creativity in the Family Art Park, featuring free face painting and balloon animals. The festival will also include the performing arts, with innovative dance performances sponsored by the Reston Community Center and other musical entertainment presented throughout the weekend. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Fiesta Asia Street Fair
NW, DC. The 11th annual National Asian Heritage Festival’s signature event, the Fiesta Asia Street Fair, features more than 1,000 performers on five stages representing more than 20 cultures for nine consecutive hours. Live performances by musicians, vocalists, dancer, martial artists; Pan-Asian cuisine; a shopping bazaar; kid-friendly interactive activities; talent competition, cultural parade, Bollywood street dancing, exhibits of traditional and contemporary Asian crafts and beer from around Asia. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.  

Celebrate Fairfax!
FAIRFAX, VA. This festival features concerts on nine different stages, with performances by Plain White T’s, the B-52s and Living Colour. There’s also a petting zoo, carnival rides and plenty of great food. Each night of the festival ends with a fireworks show. Fairfax Government Center. $10-$15.

Capital Pride Festival
NW, DC. Drag performances, beer gardens and headliners Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth at DC’s largest annual one-day event! Celebrate the LGBT communities of DC with your favorite cocktails, beers and wines. Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets NW, DC. Free.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
NATIONAL MALL, DC. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is held outdoors on the National Mall in Washington, Dc during the last week of June and first week of July. This year, the festival will take place between Fourth and Seventh streets, north of the National Air and Space Museum, from June 29 to July 4 and July 7 to 10. The festival is free of charge. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with special events taking place most evenings beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Capital Fringe Festival
VARIOUS LOCATIONS, DC. Unique poetry, puppetry and wild dance performances! With countless performing groups, there’s bound to be something for everybody including risk-taking art and non-traditional acts.

BALTIMORE, MD. Fashion designers, outdoor sculpture and art cars! America’s largest free arts festival will also feature the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other incredible live music. Free.

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
ROCKVILLE, MD. It’s for charity! Free outdoor movies on the largest screens in the country! Experience the old-school feel of a drive-in theater while helping to raise funds for a great cause. Free. MCPS Board of Education parking  

Virginia Scottish Games
THE PLAINS, VA. You can wear a kilt! One of the few places outside the Commonwealth where you can experience authentic Scottish culture and traditions, including spectacular highland dancers, bagpipes, adorable Scottish dogs, cool British cars and sheep herding. $20 – $30. Great Meadow – The Plains, VA.  


Rockin’ the Block Concert Series
June 1 to August 31
CAPITOL RIVERFRONT, DC. Canal Park presents a new take on the front porch concert. Concerts take place at the Canal Park middle block stage Wednesdays of each summer month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will feature great bands, food and beverages from neighborhood restaurants, games and more. Find more details  

Bethesda Summer Concert Series
May 5 to July 28
BETHESDA, MD. Bask in the sweet melodies and the summer air as you catch the music in Veterans Park. Featuring local favorites Cathy Ponton King, Chugalug, Blue Sky 5 and more.  6 p.m.-8 p.m. Free.

Rock the Row at Pentagon Row
July 14 to August 25
ARLINGTON, VA. Hot bands and cold beer return to Pentagon Row for the annual Rock the Row series.  Each week a different band takes the stage and a different craft brewery is featured in the VIP lounge.  Bands include Kristin and the Noise, Gonzo’s Nose, The Rockets and White Ford Bronco.  The VIP lounge will host Virginia craft brewers Devils Backbone, South Street, Mad Fox and others, plus a rotating restaurant partner.  Admission to the concerts is free, admission to the VIP lounge is $10 and all proceeds are donated to SCAN – Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia. 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Go to for lineup, and purchase lounge tickets in advance at

Herndon Friday Night Live!
May 6 to August 26
HERNDON, VA. It’s the 22 nd year of hooking folks up with cold beer, hot tunes and fantastic food! Featuring party favorites Go Go Gadget, Burnt Sienna, The Reflex and more, Herndon rocks you through the summer with the best local and regional talent from the East Coast. No concert on June 3, but be sure to check out Herndon Festival instead. Free.  

Rockville Town Square Friday Night Live
May 6 to September 30
ROCKVILLE, MD. Live music lights up the Rockville Town Square when local favorites like Lloyd Dobler Effect, Junkyard Saints, Billy Coulter Band and more take to the Dawson’s Market Stage. Plus, enjoy food and drinks from guest restaurants American Tap Room, Mellow Mushroom, Bar Louie and others. 6:30-9 p.m.

Budweiser Music Series at Nats Park
May 13 to September 30
NATIONALS PARK, DC. Every Friday home game, the best place to pre-game is at the Budweiser Terrace inside the ballpark.  Enjoy cold Bud and Bud Light and hot tunes from the city’s best cover bands.  White Ford Bronco, Party Like Its, Jeff from Accounting and Dr. FU. Enter to win tickets and check out the lineup

Friday Night Concert Series in Yards Park
May 27 to September 2
CAPITOL RIVERFRONT, DC. The summer comes alive at Yards Park on Friday nights. Blankets are spread, picnics unpacked and the crowd settles in for a great night of live music on the waterfront. Each season’s lineup brings a diverse mix of music ranging from classic Motown (Jimi Smooth) to roots Americana (19th Street Band.) The concerts are free and run from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends. Music is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. but arrive early to get a good spot, the shows are popular. New this year, the stage will be on the Great Lawn portion of the park, and outside alcohol is no longer allowed. Fear not, a beer and wine bar is located onsite. For information on the shows, visit

Rock The Block #TGIFairfax
May 27 to October 28
FAIRFAX, VA. Rock the Block at Old Town Square in Fairfax is back this summer.  Each fourth Friday of the month from June through October, walk, run, ride your bike or drive because you don’t want to miss out on Stereo A, The Reagan Years, Rockets, Hackens Boys and more. Food is available for sale. Bring chairs and or blankets to sit on and kids wear swim suits and bring towels for our new spray pad! No pets allowed except service animals. 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Park Potomac Concert Series
June 3rd to July 15
POTOMAC, MD. Welcome to the inaugural Park Potomac Concert Series. Don’t miss great live music and a craft beer garden each week.  Bands include Darcy Dawn, 19th Street Band, Lloyd Dobler Effect, Practically Einstein, Sly 45, 7 Deadlines and Justin Trawick. Participating breweries include Olivers, Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, Du Claw, 7 Locks, Milkhouse and Jailbreak.  All proceeds from the beer garden go to the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department. Concert is free, beer garden admission is $10.  For more information and to purchase tasting tickets in advance, go

Lubber Run Amphitheater Summer Concert Series
June 17 to September 18
ARLINGTON, VA. Featuring a diverse lineup melding internationally renowned musicians and regional favorites, Nigerian Afro-Pop pioneer Orlando Julius, regional roots rocker Mary Ann Redmond; Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre, and the Congolese fusion band Mbongwana Star are among those featured in the 2016 Lubber Run Amphitheater Summer Concert Series. Saturday and Sunday concerts are at 8 p.m., Sundays at 6 p.m. Free.

Rio Center Concerts
May 6 to September 24
GAITHERSBURG, MD. Every Friday and Saturday night the party is lakeside at the Rio Center. Just outside Union Jack’s enjoy live music from Route 66, Diamond Alley, Mason Dixon, Four Star Combo and more. Free. 6-9 p.m. Get the complete lineup

Adams Morgan Summer Concert Series
May 7 to June 25
NW, DC. Live concerts featuring the best local musical talent! Check out the mixture of musical styles including Brazilian jazz, bluegrass, swing, country and rock ‘n roll in an intimate outdoor setting. Corner of 18th St. and Columbia Rd in the BB&T Bank Plaza Free. Find more information on Facebook!

Downtown Silver Spring Concerts
May 14 to September 24
SILVER SPRING, MD. The Fountain Plaza in Downtown Silver Spring rocks on Saturday nights.  Enjoy free concerts featuring acts like Jeremy Little, Stone Age Rhapsody, Loose Ends, Bliss and Friends, Distant Thunder and more. 6:30-8:30 p.m.  

Tarara Winery Summer Concert Series
June 4 to September 24
LEESBURG, VA. Dance under the stars with good food and wine, and great friends at this summer-long series of musical soirées including Bruce in the USA and Kanye Twitty. $16.


The Bloody Mary Festival
SW, DC. Enjoy the craftiest and most delicious Bloody Marys from the 14th Street corridor to Georgetown at Blind Whino. You won’t find any plain tomato juice or horseradish concoctions at this event. Enjoy three hours of the DC area’s most creative and innovative Bloody Marys, created by the finest restaurants and bars in the area. Includes Bloody Marys, bagel bar, cheese tables, tastes of local artisanal food and drinks, music and more. Participating bars include Hank’s Oyster Bar, Bar Pilar, Range, The Heights, Buffalo & Bergen, Barrel, Due South and Old Engine 12 Firehouse Restaurant. 1-4 p.m. $60-$90.

Of Ale and History Beer Fest
MIDDLETOWN, VA. This is the longest running beer festival in Virginia, celebrating its 21st year. There will be more than 70 beers available for tasting including European imports, American craft brews, hard ciders and specialty beers. There will also be live music all day. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. $20 advanced tasting tickets are on sale Admission includes a commemorative tasting glass, eight beer tastings, access to all vendors, performances and tours of Belle Grove’s 1797 Manor House. At the gate, tasting tickets will be $25. Designated drivers or guests under-21 may purchase admission tickets for $10 and it includes two non-alcoholic

VinoFest: Third Annual Wine & Music Festival
SE, DC. Calling all wine lovers! On May 7, savor wines from more than 20 unique local and global vineyards, craft beers and specialty cocktails while enjoying live music by Jon Batiste & Stay Human, The Original Wailers and more at Yards Park. VinoFest, the premier wine and music festival, is the ideal spring day, featuring a curated selection of DC’s best bites from Buredo to Milk Bar. VIP and general admission tickets are on sale now at 3-10 p.m.  

Mount Vernon Wine Festival & Sunset Tour
MOUNT VERNON, VA. You might see George Washington? Ok, so you meet him in costume! Celebrate the history of wine in Virginia with exclusive evening tours of the Mansion and cellar, and live jazz overlooking the Potomac River. Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens. $36-40. $1,100-$1,200 VIP tables and bottle

NE, DC. Hellbender Brewing Company presents the only DC beer festival by and for local brewers. Seventeen local breweries will pour over 20 local craft beers to raise funds for the DC Brewers Guild. Guests will be treated to a complimentary tasting glass, unlimited pours and award-winning fare from Arepa Zone’s food truck. $53.74. 1-4 p.m. Go to for details about participating breweries.

Mad Fox’s Spring Bock Festival
FALLS CHURCH, VA. Kick off the beer festival season with us outdoors in the market square! Sample a wide variety of award-winning Spring Bock and other seasonal beers from our brewery and others around region. Enjoy live music and great food as you sip and celebrate spring! Noon to 7 p.m. As always admission is free, and we will feature activities for kids. Get your tickets in advance and don’t wait in line when you arrive!

Maryland Craft Beer Festival
FREDERICK, MD. Celebrate your favorite Maryland breweries at the Maryland Craft Beer Festival! Over 30 brewing companies will present 175+ unique, finely crafted ales and lagers. This festival features live music, exhibitors and a variety of food offerings prepared to partner perfectly with these craft beers. At Carroll Creek Linear Park. Noon to 5 p.m.

Taste of Arlington
ARLINGTON, VA. The 29th annual Taste of Arlington transforms Wilson Boulevard and neighboring streets into a family-friendly street festival with dining, music and entertainment for all ages. This annual festival features the cuisine of more than 50 Arlington restaurants, two concert stages, an expanded Beer and Wine Garden with Deschutes Brewery’s Street Pub, a 5K race benefiting Girls on the Run, a BarkPark and a KidZone. Noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are now on sale and you can buy discounted tickets on the BallstonConnect Mobile app.  

Taste The World in Fenton Village
SILVER SPRING, MD. The 6th Annual Taste the World in Fenton Village is the DC area’s largest restaurant crawl featuring over 30 different restaurants representing food from around the world. Free, attendees come explore the eclectic neighborhood of Silver Spring while purchasing tastes at restaurants for $2-$5. Passports are picked up at any of the three entry points, and are awarded a stamp with a taste at any participating restaurant. Three stamps earn the attendee an entry into the raffle for prizes announced at the end of the day. 1-5 p.m.

Tour de Fat
SE, DC. Tour de Fat is New Belgium Brewing’s traveling celebration of all things bicycle, honoring mankind’s greatest invention. Born in Colorado to increase awareness and participation in cycling as a sustainable form of transportation, Tour de Fat has grown into a national rite of passage for cycling advocates and bon vivants alike. The day-long event is free, yet all donations and proceeds from beer and merchandise sales go to DC area non-profits. Everyone 21 and older can sample new and classic favorites from New Belgium, including the brewery’s flagship brew, Fat Tire, New Belgium’s latest year-round offering, Citradelic Tangerine IPA, and selections from the acclaimed Lips of Faith series. At Yards Park. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Park Potomac Festival
POTOMAC, MD. Come enjoy free fun for the whole family!! Live music from Lovely Rita.  Bring the kids for the petting zoo, face painting and balloon twisting. Beer Garden featuring 7 different local craft breweries and wine. Local breweries include: Flying Dog, Du Claw, Heavy Seas, Jailbreak, 7 Locks, Milkhouse, Olivers. Participating Food trucks include: Peruvian Brothers, Carmen’s Italian Ice, Stella’s Popcorn, Mesob on Wheels, Captain Cookie, Java Crusier, featuring the Big Cheese. Sample food from Founding Farmers, Zoe’s Kitchen, Sugo and Elevation Burger. For more info go All proceeds from the beer garden go to the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department.  

Virginia Wine & Craft Festival
FRONT ROYAL, VA. Grab a drink and hit the caves! Relax and enjoy shopping for handmade crafts, live music, games and lots of wine from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free entry; $25-$30 wine tasting.

Wine in the Woods
COLUMBIA, MD. To learn! Sharpen your palate by attending wine education seminars, while enjoying exceptional food and works offered by invited chefs, artists and craft artisans. Symphony Woods Park. $20-$40.

Caribbean Wine Festival
MT. AIRY, MD. Island life without the trip! Open your palate to different wines with your souvenir wine glass or take a guided winery tour. Linganore Wine Cellars. $22.50-$30.

Great Grapes! Wine, Arts & Food Festival
COCKEYSVILLE, MD. Great Grapes! has grown to be Baltimore’s premier casual Maryland wine festival with hundreds of wines available for tasting at Oregon Ridge Park. Hundreds of thousands of guests have enjoyed the Festival as an escape from the urban jungle. Noon to 6 p.m.

Vintage Virginia
CENTREVILLE, VA. Since 1982, Vintage Virginia has offered an opportunity to taste from nearly half of Virginia’s homegrown wineries, from the oldest and the largest to the smallest boutiques and exciting new players, at Bull Run Special Event Complex. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Americana Beer Fest
LEESBURG, VA. Good beer. Great cause. Enjoy an ideal summer day celebrating craft beer and music at Americana Beer Fest, the newest craft beer and arts festival taking place at the scenic Morven Park in Leesburg, Va. Support our veterans while sampling more than 180 styles of craft beer from 60+ local, regional and national breweries. Enjoy live music from Trampled by Turtles, Wild Child, Possessed by Paul James, and Roosterfoot. The festival will also include a food truck rally, an artisan market, life-sized lawn games, as well as a series of culinary and beer-centric panels, demos and workshops, making Americana Beer Fest the ultimate day for the ultimate beer lover. VIP and general admission tickets are on sale now at 2-7 p.m.

Breaux Vineyards Cajun Festival
PURCELLVILLE, VA. Taste Louisiana fare without traveling the distance! Delicious Cajun food with enjoyable wine-a-ritas and rockin’ live music is featured at this annual celebration of our Cajun heritage. $12-$20. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. 

Brew & Bourbon Classic
BALTIMORE, MD. The Brew and Bourbon Classic is a fun-filled afternoon of beer tasting, bourbon sipping and, of course, pulse-pounding Thoroughbred racing at Pimlico Race Course. Over 60 different beers and bourbons will be poured as the races unfold. Great food and music will round out the day. 1-6

Taste of Reston
RESTON, VA. Taste of Reston, produced by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, is the largest outdoor food festival in the area and was voted “Northern Virginia’s Best Food Festival” in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Virginia Living magazine. Join us this June at the Reston Town Center for two days of restaurants and community vendors, live entertainment on three stages, the Family Fun Zone and our Wine ‘n’ Dine area. Friday from 3-11 p.m. and Saturday noon-11 p.m.

Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. Unlimited beer and bourbon tastings and the new shrine of swine! Admission buys you a souvenir glass so you can enjoy an all-you-care-to-taste sampling of the 60 beers and 40 bourbons on tap. There is BBQ galore as this festival contains some of the best vendors onsite. The amazing BBQ selection includes pulled pork from whole hogs, ribs, brisket, chicken sausages and more. You can also enjoy seminars in the tasting theater, special hot sauces, cool exhibits and a cigar tent for all guests. There’s also live rock and blues music all day and great bluegrass on the Main Stage. Come and see what the excitement is all about! $35-$90 for general admission; $29 for designated drivers. If you can’t make the festival, don’t worry! The fun comes to Leesburg on Saturday, September 17.

Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest
CENTREVILLE, VA. The 9th annual Northern Virginia BrewFest, presented by Mad Fox Brewing Company, returns to the Special Events Center at Bull Run Regional Park. The two-day event will feature seasonal beers, meads and ciders from more than 45 regional breweries, educational programs, live music, corn hole, and more. Noon to 7 p.m. General admission and VIP tickets are available online at

Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival
BALTIMORE, MD. This is the 3 rd annual Maryland tradition! The festival is an all-you-can-taste extravaganza complete with over 30,000 crabs, lots of beer, arts and crafts, live music, family fun and so much more! Find out what over 22,000 people have come to enjoy. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Rash Field.

Red, White & Brew Festival
SE, DC. Raise a toast to the red, white and brew at this annual all-you-care-to-taste beer and wine event. 1-9 p.m. For tickets and more information,

24th Annual Giant National Capital BBQ Battle
NW, DC. Kick off summer at America’s BBQ Party, the 24th Annual Giant Barbecue Battle. Pennsylvania Avenue will be smokin’ with rock, reggae, jazz and blues from 30 bands on three stages. Enjoy free BBQ and grilled food samples in the Taste of Giant sampling pavilion while witnessing America’s best eaters onstage at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest. Other activities include free wine samples at Barefoot Beach, the military chef cook-off, celebrity chefs, lots of interactive exhibits and America’s national BBQ championship contest. The battle has received numerous awards like “One of America’s most prestigious and entertaining BBQ competitions” by USA Today. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pennsylvania Avenue between 9th and 14th

2016 Capital Ale House National Beer Expo
RICHMOND, VA. The 3rd annual Capital Ale House National Beer Expo is a national destination craft beer and food experience featuring premium craft beer from Virginia and around the U.S. and highlighting Richmond, Virginia’s (RVA) culinary excellence. Please join us from July 15-16 in RVA for 15+ amazing craft beer and food events. Noon – 10 p.m. Tickets and more information at

Kegs and Corks Festival
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD. Head to the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds for a beer and wine festival with great music, good food and fun, plus unlimited samples of craft beers and Maryland wines. Noon to 6 p.m.


Arts & Ales: Downtown Hyattsville Arts Festival
HYATTSVILLE, MD. Check out 100+ exhibiting artists, Maryland breweries, food trucks and vendors, and live entertainment at Arts & Ales. Noon to 6


Crystal Screen
August 15 to September 26
CRYSTAL CITY, VA. This year’s Crystal Screen is devoted solely to Star Wars, with plans to show episodes one through seven of the epic series. Plaza at 1850 S. Bell St.  

Adams Morgan Movie Nights
May 17 to June 14
NW, DC. Adams Morgan Movie Nights showcase a broad range of films from classics to award-winning contemporary and animated features. This year’s lineup includes Inside Out, Rebel Without a Cause and Pretty in Pink. The series is held at one of the best outdoor movie watching venues in the city – the plush new soccer field at Marie Reed School in Adams Morgan, where terraced seating is built into the hillside overlooking the screen. Best of all: the movie nights are free! 8-10:30

NoMa Summer Screen
June 1 to August 17
NW, DC. Enjoy a picnic and a flick under the stars, just blocks from the NoMa Metro station. Princess Bride, Life of Pi and Jurassic Park are among this year’s picks. Loree Grand Field at 2nd and L Streets.Free.

Screen on the Green
July 20 to August 10
NATIONAL MALL, DC. There’s no better way to enjoy film than outdoors, surrounded by friends and beautiful sunsets. This year’s lineup includes North by Northwest andBack to the Future. National Mall, between 7th and 12th Streets.

Canal Park Movies
June 2 to August 11
SE, DC. From classics to the latest Academy Award winners, the people spoke and the movies will be shown! Join the Riverfront community for free movies at Canal Park on Thursday evenings, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Mean Girls to The Martian andCreed. Free.

Rosslyn Cinema: Incredible Journeys
June 3 to August 26
ROSSYLN, VA. Head to Gateway Park for this year’s Rosslyn Cinema Outdoor Movie Festival on Friday nights, featuring fare from food trucks and local restaurants, plus a glass of beer or wine at the mobile bar prior to show time. Eat, Pray, Love, Casablanca and Up are part of this year’s “Incredible Journeys” theme. Free.

(Please note, festivals taking place at Merriweather Post Pavilion or Jiffy Lube Live are not listed here, but instead appear in our regular music calendar.) 

Preakness InfieldFest
BALTIMORE, MD. Get ready for the running of the Preakness Stakes with this year’s festival featuring two stages, the MUG club and unique attractions all day. Headliners include The Chainsmokers and Fetty Wap. Pimlico Race Course. $

BRISTOW, VA. Country fans, unite! Get country with Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore, Brothers Osborne and more. Jiffy Lube Live. Tickets start at $

CUMBERLAND, MD. With acts like the Del McCoury Band and Tedeschi Trucks Band, you’re sure to find yourself in bluegrass bliss. Also, learn from the some of the best musicians in the business at Delfest Academy! The four-day adult pass starts at $185.50.

Rockville Hometown Holidays
ROCKVILLE, MD. Enjoy several dozen live performances from rock ‘n’ roll and reggae artists, plus marching bands, floats and more at the Memorial Day Parade. Rockville Town Center. Free.

Mountain Music Festival
NEW RIVER GORGE, WV. Mountain Music Festival is an annual celebration of the best outdoor adventures West Virginia offers with live music to match. Situated on a 1,500 acre outdoor adventure resort in the New River Gorge, WV, Mountain Music Festival brings the spirit of Appalachia to life through its two greatest exports – music and wilderness. This year MMFest welcomes Louts, Galactic, Trampled by Turtles, The Infamous Stringdusters, Dumpstaphunk, Big Something and more to the stage atop Wonderland Mountain. ACE Adventure Resort.  

The Capital Jazz Fest
COLUMBIA, MD. Come see New Edition, En Vogue and King, plus up-and-coming jazz and soul music artists, at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Ticket prices

DC Jazz Festival
A citywide festival presenting 90+ bands, 300+ artists, 60+ venues including Yards Park, The Kennedy Center, The Hamilton Live, area clubs and restaurants, and National Parks venues, the festival presents a selection of the jazz genre’s most acclaimed and emerging artists, and provides enhanced exposure for the rich treasure trove of musicians from the Washington, DC area. Artists featured in this year’s festival include: Grrls Rule, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Eddie Plmieri, Igmar Thomas & Revive Big Band with Talib Kewli, Maceo Parker and many more. A highlight of the festival is the three day Jazz in the Yards weekend at Yards Park June 17 to 19.

Heavy Seas Blunderbuss Music Fest
Heavy Seas is proud to present Baltimore harbor’s largest summer music festival: Blunderbuss Music Festival! Featuring Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Boom Box, Big Something, Cris Jacobs, Sweet Leda and more.

DOVER, DE:  Your favorite summer weekend is around the corner!! Artists include Mumford & Sons, Kings of Leon, Florence and the Machine, Deadlaus, Ellie Goulding, Disclosure, Blink 182, Death Cab for Cutie, Tame Impala, M83, A$AP Rocky, Major Lazer, The 1975, Of Monsters and Men, Chvrches, Two Door Cinema Club, Ludacris, The Neighbourhood, Earth, Wind and Fire, Group Love, Porter Robinson, Fitz & the Tantrums, Fetty Wap, Flogging Molly, Vince Staple and many more. Camping passes available.  

Silver Spring Blues Festival
SILVER SPRING, MD. An all-day blues block party with two stages, a fountain to cool off in, and plenty of places to eat and shop at the music-filled celebration. Downtown Silver Spring. Free.  

Vine Rewind Festival
MT. AIRY, MD. Linganore Wine Cellars and Red Shedman Brewery are opening the gates to a weekend of fun. If you love music of the 70s, 80s and 90s, beer and wine, this is the festival for you. There’ll be plenty of vendors with crafts and food, and a relaxing outdoor atmosphere. Performances from The Reflex, Guys with Thin Ties and more.  11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Special pricing for Dads and Vets. Get all ticket info

CROZET, VA. Starr Hill Brewery’s IPA JAMBEEREE is a festival celebrating India Pale Ales and live music in Virginia. The event will be held at the Hangar Park, across from Starr Hill Brewery & Tap Room. Attendees will sample over 50 different IPAs from more than 15 Virginia breweries, featuring rare and exclusive offerings from Starr Hill, as well as partake in interactive exhibits with local hop growers. A show-stopping lineup of live music performances complete the ultimate Starr Hill experience alongside food trucks, games, and proceeds to benefit a local non-profit organization.  

LURAY, VA. Doah Fest is a four-day celebration held on a private farm between the banks of the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Doah is more than just a music festival. It is a chance to unplug and connect, to share positivity and happiness with a community of beautiful and optimistic people. Starting Friday afternoon the bands kick off and begin to fill the farm with great music. Jam, reggae, rock, bluegrass, indie and more on two stages by the river. Unlike any other festival, Doah allows you direct access to the Shenandoah River. Jump in cool off and relax.

FLOYD, VA.  It’s a Dreamweavin’ week at FloydFest 2016.  This world music festival set in the scenic Virginia Blue Ridge features Greg Allman, Warren Haynes, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers and many, many more. Single, multi and camping passes available.

Hot August Festival
COCKEYSVILLE, MD. Leftover Salmon and Railroad Earth are festival favorites, but added to this lineup are local sensations Thievery Corporation.  Gates open at 11 a.m., tickets are currently at $59.

Lockn’ Festival
ARRINGTON, VA.  Jam band fans, it may not get better than this.  Two nights and four sets of Phish, two nights of Ween, My Morning Jacket, Tedeschi Trucks Band and more, the stellar lineup is only matched by the stellar setting in the mountains of Virginia.  Tickets for both GA and camping passes are available.

Appaloosa Festival
FRONT ROYAL, VA. The Appaloosa Festival, DC’s annual roots music and camping festival, is Labor Day Weekend, in Front Royal, VA! Headliners include Scythian, The Black Lillies, Mipso, Marie Miller, Humming House, Socks in the Frying Pan, Six-String Soldiers, The Accidentals, and Lowland Hum. Scythian, festival hosts, was named Best DC Band by Washington City Paper. The Black Lillies dominate Americana radio, while Mipso’s latest debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Bluegrass. Humming House was a Huffington Post Top 15 of 2015 Festival Act, and Socks in the Frying Pan was #1 New Band in Ireland. The Accidentals are a Billboard Top 7 Breakout Act at SXSW, and Lowland Hum played NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Six-String Soldiers played Conan, and Marie Miller performed alongside Aretha Franklin, and Andrea Bocelli. The Appaloosa Festival, family-friendly, is at Skyline Ranch Resort, in the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Military discounts, children under 13

Sonic Circuits Festival
NE, DC. Washington DC’s annual festival of cutting edge contemporary music that defies genres – experimental music that you won’t experience elsewhere.

Photo: Joy Asico

The Bierdo Visits The Sovereign

Greeting Bierdos! May I point you to DC’s newest Belgian hotspot? The Sovereign is a brand spanking new beer destination in Georgetown. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Beer Director, Greg Engert,  who is “known for his award-winning beer lists at Birch & Barley, ChurchKey, Rustico and more…is now curating and creating a Belgian beer list unlike any other at the Sovereign alongside a menu of classic Belgian cuisine from Executive Chef Peter Smith.”

Don’t believe the hype? You better believe it, buster. As Flavor Flav says: “Yeahhhh boy!” It’s time to try some Belgian brews a little closer to the Virginia line, just across the river in my old college stomping grounds – only much classier than $3 Bud Lights and Jäger in the Georgetown scene of my youth. It’s a destination perfect for dates and fine drinking.

“With 50 drafts and 200+ bottles (in a dark and romantic, 131-seat, two-story bar), the beer program [features] the work of Belgian brewers who embody the standards, techniques and innovative spirit that underpins the fabled Belgian brewing culture…showcasing the widest array of drafts and bottles from the very best Belgian brewers.”

Temperature-controlled taps and coolers keep every beer at the appropriate serving conditions, and the staff works hard to ensure that the excellent bar, brunch and dinner fare (the menu features rustic, ingredient-driven Belgian dishes, drawing from French, German and Dutch cooking traditions) pairs well with the extensive wine and cocktail selections.

I had the Drie Fonteinen Beersel Lager (a crisp, unfiltered, bready kellerbier lager with residual bitterness, 5.2 percent) and the Thiriez Extra (a rich and hoppy European collaboration golden ale, 4.5 percent), and they were outstanding. Throw in the crispy fried bitterballen and other European-style bar snacks, and you literally feel like you’re overseas and getting the real deal experience.

Experience it for yourself! Here’s what the folks at the Sovereign wanted me to share with you about what their beer menu includes:

  • The deliciously dry offerings of De la Senne, De Ranke and Kerkom, among others
  • Singular farmhouse ales, including those of Blaugies and Thiriez
  • Balanced, complex and bold Belgian strong ales, including those of De Dolle and De Struise
  • The work of Trappist Monastic producers such as Achel and Rochefort
  • Authentic Lambic from Belgian brewers and blenders, including Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen, Girardin, Tilquin and De Cam
  • Up-and-coming Belgian brewers, including Sainte-Hélène, Alvinne and Jandrain-Jandrenouille
  • The best international producers of Belgian-style ales, such as Dieu du Ciel (Quebec) and Toccalmatto (Italy), alongside selections from American brewers like Jolly Pumpkin, Prairie, Crooked Stave and Jester King

The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; 202-774-5875;

Have a beer for the Bierdo to try? Drop him a line at

Photo: Joy Asico

bartenders dc

Behind the Bar: May 2016

Jesus Boada Vargas
Bar Manager at MXDC 
The 31-year-old hails from Lanham, Md. and has 10 years of experience behind the bar.

On Tap: What makes MXDC’s margarita list unique? Do you have a few favorites?
Jesus Boada Vargas: We make our own lime juice, and also our own MXDC cordial with a cinnamon flavor. My two favorite margaritas [are] the Habanero, with a nice kick of spicy to it, and our Blackberry Cilantro Margarita because of the contrast of flavors presented by the ingredients.

OT: What about your sangrias? What’s in the ingredients list?
JBV: We feature two sangrias on the menu: the red, full-bodied classic sangria and the lighter, warm weather white sangria. We use fresh juices such as mango puree, orange and pineapple. We also use St. Germain and hard liquor, and infuse the final product with fruits to rest overnight.

OT: Walk us through the palomas menu.
JBV: Palomas are one of the most famous drinks in Mexico. They are a very refreshing cocktail with a little of bit of citrus and soda, but the unique and best thing about our palomas is that we make our sodas in-house with the freshest ingredients.

OT: Will you be serving anything special for Cinco de Mayo?
JBV: Small nacho plates for $5, beer buckets with five Mexican beers, Dos Equis, Corona or Sol for $21 all day, and happy hour from noon to 9 p.m.

OT: Are there any off-menu drinks that you love making?
JBV: Mojitos, caipirinhas and any kind of espresso shooter.

Jesus’s Drink Pick: French Margarita
Tequila reposado
Orange juice
Fresh lime juice
Grand Marnier
Two dashes of Chambord

MXDC: 600 14th St. NW, DC; 

Betty Woodward
Lead Bartender at Oyamel
The 33-year-old bartender and H Street resident has been with Oyamel for three years. 

On Tap: What brought you to Oyamel?
Betty Woodward: It’s important to me that I believe in the product and the team, and I was looking for that when I interviewed with Oyamel. I’d never met a more passionate group of bartenders and chefs, and they inspired me to want to be better and to be a part of their family. It didn’t hurt that I was obsessed with the guacamole and tacos, either.

OT: What new craft cocktails will make their debut this season?
BW: Miguel Lancha, ThinkFoodGroup’s Cocktail Innovator, and Oyamel’s bar team are in the middle of research and development for our seasonal menu change. You can expect to see lots of bright, seasonal flavor profiles.

OT: How do you help customers navigate your expansive spirits list?
BW: The trick is to figure out what the guest is looking for, although sometimes they don’t even know themselves. Ask questions and even if you don’t know everything, be a part of their experience.

OT: How does Oyamel strike a balance between authentic Mexican libations and original twists on those classics?
 It’s important that everything we do is inspired by authentic Mexican flavors. You’d be surprised by the number of hours and days that go into making sure every single cocktail is true to the culture of both Mexico and Oyamel.

OT: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the city?
BW: I love hosting a big group of friends on my day off. Every year, I spend hours cooking Mexican food and mixing up margaritas so that my friends can taste authentic Mexican food.

Betty’s Drink Pick: Salt Air Margarita
Milagro Tequila Silver
Combier L’Original
Fresh lime juice
Simple syrup
Salt air: water, fresh lime juice, kosher salt, Sucro

Oyamel: 401 7th St. NW, DC; 

Justin Webster
Bar Manager at El Centro D.F.
The 26-year-old Adams Morgan resident has been with El Centro D.F.’s 14th Street location for six months. 

On Tap: What’s the best drink on the El Centro menu to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
Justin Webster: [Our] Traditional Margarita, which will be $6 on Cinco De Mayo.

OT: What’s the process behind making the house-infused tequilas?
JW: Find your favorite 100 percent agave tequila. Choose your favorite fruit or vegetable, remove the leaves, rind, seeds, etc. and cut the contents up into a container with the tequila. Store in the fridge and let everything sit for about two to three days. Be sure that you’re tasting the tequila every day to double check that it’s got the right flavor profile.

OT: What’s the story behind the “Destination Oaxaca” selection?
JW: The “Destination Oaxaca” menu was created after our chefs went on a culinary tour of the area experiencing the region’s amazing food culture. After the trip, the chefs worked together to create a menu inspired by the cuisine and culture.

OT: What sets El Centro’s spirits apart from those offered at other local Mexican restaurants?
JW: El Centro offers a diverse selection of over 250 tequilas, including blancos, reposados, anejos, premium, micro and infused. Because of our very diverse and large list, we offer a vertical tasting, which features tequilas made with different aging techniques, and a horizontal tasting comparing three tequilas made by different distilleries.

Justin’s Drink Pick: Red & Smokey
El Silencio mezcal
Chili ginger
Fresh orange slice as garnish

El Centro D.F.: 1819 14th St. NW, DC;

MXDC And Oyamel photos: Monica Alford 
El Centro D.F. photo: Courtesy of El Centro D.F. 

Bold Rock Honeydew Hits Shelves

Bold Rock Honeydew Hits Shelves

The U.S. hard cider industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. A traditional beverage overseas, cider had early adoption in this country, but had fallen out of favor with the passing of time. Fast forward to the 21st century, and cider is back in a big way. The reasons for the resurgence are plentiful – the growing interest in gluten-free diets (cider is naturally gluten-free), the strength of the farm-to-table (or glass) movement and the growth in general of craft beverages. Although there are several national players in the market, local and regional cideries are thriving.

We are fortunate to have one of the leaders in the field just down the road in Nellysford, Va. Bold Rock Cider, the award-winning undertaking of master cider maker Brian Shanks and his partner John Washburn, has received dozens of awards for its flagship Virginia Apple and Virginia Draft ciders. In 2014, the cidery saw an expansion of its lineup with Bold Rock Pear, and this year brings another flavor to the family – Bold Rock Honeydew.

Honeydew, as the name implies, marries apples grown at Bold Rock orchards in the Blue Ridge Mountains with honeydew melon. The sweetness of the melon blends with the tartness of the apples to create a flavor that is light and slightly sweet, with a tart finish. Best accompanied by summer dishes, the flavor is a seasonal release and will be available in bottles and on draught through the summer or while supplies last.

When asked what inspired the new flavor, Shanks explained that, “As the largest regional craft cidery in the U.S., Bold Rock stays true to our roots by staying connected with our consumers. Our tap rooms allow us to try some of our new recipes out with our loyal consumers and get their feedback. They love being a part of the process and we value their input. One thing that we are seeing right now is [that] our growing millennial consumer base likes to experiment with new styles of cider. Similar to what is happening in craft beer with brewers blending grapefruit and lemon lime with IPA, Bold Rock is constantly experimenting to blend other natural flavors into our ciders.”

Bold Rock has an IPA of their own. In late 2015, they released their India Pressed Apple, a cider dry-hopped with a blend of five hops, including Centennial, Cascade and Citra. When asked about plans for future releases, Shanks replied that, “[Our] IPA has been very successful both on tap and in six pack bottles, and will be launched in cans and as part of our Variety Crate this summer. Honeydew is our first seasonal style, but Bold Rock will continue to look at new recipes that could later become new styles, and we anticipate some being announced later this year.”

In the meantime, you can find Bold Rock ciders on draught and in bottles at area bars and restaurants, and in bottles at grocery and retail outlets. Or, make the trip to their taproom and orchard in Nellysford. Who knows, you may help craft the next Bold Rock flavor.

Bold Rock Cider: 1020 Rockfish Valley Hwy. (Rt. 151), Nellysford, VA;

new dining dc

New, Notable, No Longer: May 2016

On Tap keeps locals in the know about restaurants and bars opening around town this month, plus our top foodie picks.

Bar à Vin
This stylish sibling to Chez Billy Sud features an extensive list of French wines, which you can pair with a few bar nibbles. A beautiful flight served with duck prosciutto makes for a wonderful break from a Georgetown shopping spree. Bar à Vin: 1039 31 St. NW, DC;

Commodore Public House & Kitchen
You might remember Veranda – open well before this area was cool – in exactly this location. After a decade, the owners decided it was time for a refresh, a larger selection of craft beer and a more competitive price point. We’re happy to see restaurant owners survive and adapt with a changing neighborhood – and count us in for any rebrand that involves poutine made with a funnel cake and duck confit.Commodore Public House & Kitchen: 1100 P St. NW, DC;

Michael Shlow goes all Inception with his little restaurant-within-a-restaurant at Alta Strada. Pull the dark curtain aside, and you enter Conosci, where an “international” menu is served and a bar trolley means cocktails are mixed tableside. Both prix-fixe and a la carte dinner menus are available. Conosci: 465 K St. NW, DC;

If you are a Clarendon corridor habitué, you will remember the cool-kids retreat that was EatBar (RIP October 2014) – a little off-the-beaten-track, a little indie, and a lot of good beer and meat. Well, EatBar is back, but on a different planet. Its new Barracks Row home wants you to know how indie cool it is (thousands of cassette tapes line the wall) – but the eats are just as good. Fried olives stuffed with sausage? #winningEatBar: 415 8th St. SE, DC;

Finnegan’s Wake Irish Pub
A local couple with years of restaurant experience between them open their own establishment. How can you go wrong with love, and Irish whiskey and Guinness?Finnegan’s Wake Irish Pub: 100-F Gibbs St. Rockville, MD;

Lake Anne Brew House
Forget the microbrew trend. We’ve moved on to nanobreweries (under 500 barrels a year) – but there’s nothing nano about the popularity of the Lake Anne Brew House. A Kickstarter campaign gave the married team of home brewing owners (husband Jason is a former cybersecurity contractor) almost double their ask, and opening day saw 13 solid hours of lines to get at their first batches. Lake Anne Brew House: 11424 Washington Plaza W (Lake Anne Plaza), Reston, VA;

Mustang Sally Brewing Company
This is a production brewery with a massive tasting room launched by a successful corporate attorney who for years dreamed of college days brewing beer and sailing on a little boat named Mustang Sally. A few decades later, and his dream is back in operation, complete with a brew master in love with old world beers to steer the ship. We heart the story, and we double heart the graham cracker-y malt and the dry finish of the Mustang Sally Kolsch. Mustang Sally Brewing Company: 14140 Parke Long Ct. Chantilly, VA;

The Tasty Dug-Out
Nope, not baseball. Ray’s Hell Burger is trying something new again, this time splitting off a joint serving “modern Zemblan, Estoty and Tartary cuisine.” Some might recognize the Nabokovian references; others will simply appreciate the excellent offering of Georgian (the country, not the state) cuisine. The “dug-out” is khachapuri – the buttery, cheesy Georgian delicacy that swept DC a couple years ago. The Tasty Dug-Out (inside Ray’s Hell Burger): 1650 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

A young Georgetown student from a family of restauranteurs joins the campus entrepreneur club and opens her own trendy Georgetown restaurant. Why not? Stop rolling your eyes and enjoy the food. Zannchi (“feast”) brings good Korean food into the District for those days when you don’t want to drive to Annandale. Zannchi: 1529 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;

Linganore Winecellars
 A winner
Linganore walked away with eight medals at the 2016 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, including double gold for its semi-dry white Terrapin. We heart their dry, Chambourcin-based rosé, as well as the monthly music festivals the vineyard hosts throughout the summer. Linganore Winecellars: 13601 Glissans Mill Rd. Mt. Airy, MD;

Side Street and Sushi Bar by i-Thai
Why: A new home
i-Thai (yes, related to the one in Georgetown) moved a few doors down, updated its menu and added a cocktail bar. Time for a housewarming. Side Street and Sushi Bar by i-Thai: 8603 Westwood Center Dr. Vienna, VA;

Bangkok Joe’s Thai Restaurant & Dumpling Bar

Everything that is old is new again: Bangkok Joe’s used to be a Georgetown waterfront mainstay – I remember it as a “safe” Thai restaurant catering to tender, preppy palettes. It was replaced by Mamma Rouge a few years ago, but that concept (modern French Asian fusion) never really sunk roots. Now Bangkok Joe is back with a vengeance. Chef Aulie Bunyarataphan says that this is the restaurant she wanted to open 20 years ago, when she first started cooking for Washington – but the city wasn’t ready for the pungent, spicy, funky, joyful madness that is great Thai cuisine. There is a dedicated dumpling bar, some pan-Asian influences scattered around the menu and a revamped drinks list that plays off current cocktail trends. Our favorite is the “Nut Your Average Joe’s,” featuring Phraya rum, peanut simple syrup, Thai coffee and milk air. Welcome back, Joe. Bangkok Joe’s Thai Restaurant & Dumpling Bar: 3000 K St. NW, DC;

Midtown Partyplex
Millie & Al’s
Sona Creamery

Summer Grilling Tips
Chef Jeff Tunks and Burger Tap & Shake photos: Scott Suchman David Guas burgers photo: Johny Autry

Improve Your Grill Game: Local Chefs and Experts Offer Summer Grilling Tips

With warmer weather finally with us, it’s officially grilling season. This year, though, it’s time to kick up your grill game a few notches. Say goodbye to overcooked, lifeless burgers, or those same old hot dogs, with expert insight from some of DC’s finest behind the grill.

Grilling 101
“Part of improving your grilling skills comes with knowing your piece of equipment,” says David Guas, chef and owner at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, and host of the Travel Channel’s American Grilled series. “Knowing how to gauge your grill’s temperature comes with practice and experience. It’s also always helpful to remember that you can control the power and intensity of the flame by increasing or decreasing the amount of oxygen exposure.”

You need to take care of your grill, too. “Not cleaning the grill properly before cooking” is one of the most common mistakes that Chef Roberto Hernandez of Toro Toro sees.

“It is very important to have a clean and well-oiled grill before cooking any meats,” he says. “This will prevent the proteins from sticking to it, and also will give you those nice grill marks like you see on TV.”

One of the most important aspects of grilling is knowing when your food is actually done.

“Experienced cooks can tell the doneness of a steak simply by touching it,” Hernandez adds.

That’s going to take some experience, of course.

“If you are new to grilling, I would suggest using a meat thermometer as an initial gauge,” Guas says. “Then once you know the internal temperature, you can use your hand to determine the doneness. Eventually, as you become more familiar with your grill and the cuts of meat you are working with, you won’t even need a thermometer.”

Hernandez advises that a medium rare steak is between 130 and 135 degrees, and medium is between 140 and 145 degrees. Go beyond that and you’re “killing your steak,” he says. Once you know the basics, you can also learn how to do more with your grill.

“A common mistake home-grillers can easily make is forgetting to zone the charcoal,” Guas says. “It is really important to create zones within your grill so that you can create grill marks with direct heat, and then utilize the indirect section of the grill to cook things thoroughly.”

Another technique to learn is smoking with different types of wood. Guas encourages creativity but offers a few suggestions, such as using the fruitiness and sweetness of cherry and apple woods for chicken and fish, hickory wood for larger cuts of meat or certain fish such as salmon, and strong mesquite smoke for Texas-style barbecue.

“But you have to be careful, because the strength of its flavor can overpower many foods,” he warns. “I often blend a medium wood like hickory with a sweeter wood like cherry or apple to balance the flavor.”

Mastering the Burger
The burger is the centerpiece of most summer cookouts, and despite its seeming simplicity, it takes some experience and insight to truly master. Chef Jeff Tunks of Burger Tap & Shake will help set us straight.

“Quit playing with your meat when making burger patties,” he advises. “Avoid over-handling and working the grind together. The reason being the heat from your hands will begin to melt the fat and affect the final product. The best burgers are a loosely packed patty, which allows the fat to melt and gives the patty a better texture.”

Once the burger is on the grill, avoid hyperactive over-management and let the grill do its job.

“Less is more during the cooking process,” Tunks says. “So try to avoid over flipping, pressing [and] touching. Be patient and let it achieve a good sear and char. You want a juicy burger.”

When using ground beef with less than 20 percent fat or other lean meats, be sure not to overcook burgers in order to preserve their flavor.

“You really need to cook between medium rare and medium,” says Tunks about lean meat burgers. “Anything more and you are gambling with a dry burger. Also, let the burger rest a minute before adding it to your toasted bun so that the juices can redistribute.”

That resting rule applies to all meats.

“Have you seen those commercials where they are slicing a piece of beef and it’s running juices all over the cutting board? That is because the meat was not well-rested before slicing,” Hernandez explains.

Toppings, Marinades & Seasonings
On the burger front, there’s no need to get fancy with spices.

“When it comes to seasoning, the key is to keep it simple,” Tunks says. “Apply kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper liberally on both sides. Adding salt and pepper after you start the cooking process will never taste as good as a pre-seasoned burger.”

The best way to expand flavor is to get creative with toppings.

“It’s all about the toppings,” says Tunks. “Some favorite recent combinations include garlic and black olive, tzatziki with feta, Korean gochujang BBQ sauce with kimchi, fire-roasted hatch chilies and smoked onions with chipotle.”

As far as steak goes, keep in mind that marinades aren’t always necessary.

“I always like to remind people that a quality cut of beef does not need to be marinated,” Guas says. “I love the simplicity of preparing beef with coarse salt and black pepper, especially with a skirt steak or ribeye. Marinades typically come into play when you have a tougher cut like tri-tip or game, like quail and pheasant.”

When you are creating a marinade, follow this simple rule from Guas.

“As a guiding principle, I tend to treat a marinade like a salad dressing. It should consist of three parts oil with one part acid.”

For sauces, Guas recommends a summertime staple from his own home.

“A family favorite on the grill is skirt steak with chimichurri sauce,” he says.

Expand Your Repertoire
You know your grill, you’ve mastered the burger, and your marinade and topping game is strong. Now let’s expand your repertoire with different meats or overlooked cuts.

“I recommend a cut of tri-tip beef,” Guas suggests. “It’s a cheaper cut of beef, but delicious and packs an impressive amount of flavor.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Guas has a favored special occasion splurge in mind as well.

“In my opinion, you simply cannot top a cowboy cut bone-in ribeye,” he says.

Hernandez suggests a splurge of his own for those willing to pay.

“I would definitely go for an A5 Wagyu beef,” he says. “Wagyu is categorized in 12 levels [of] marbling, A5 being the perfect ratio between fat and muscle. Pretty expensive product, but trust me when I tell you it is worth every penny.”

For a more everyday type of selection, Hernandez has something else in mind.

“I would say my favorite meat for grilling is the hanger steak,” he says. “Back in the day, butchers would save this cut for themselves. All around, it’s the perfect steak for the home griller.”

When the sea beckons, Guas offers a few more choice picks.

“It’s also hard to beat trout or local Chesapeake rockfish,” he says.

You can get more adventurous with your burgers, too.

“At Burger Tap & Shake, we really have fun and a lot of success with our Burger of the Month,” Tunks says. “In the past, we have featured lamb, venison, duck, rabbit and wild boar. My personal favorite, which I cook weekly at home, is bison – always at medium rare.”

Check out the chefs’ locations, listed below.

Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery: Two area locations in Arlington, VA and Capitol Hill;

Burger Tap & Shake: Two area locations in Tenleytown and Foggy Bottom;

Toro Toro: 1300 Eye St. NW, DC; 202-682-9500;

Chef Jeff Tunks and Burger Tap & Shake photos: Scott Suchman
David Guas burgers photo: Johny Autry

Wines on the Go
Vino Rosso Toscana IGT photo: Tess Ankeny All other photos: Courtesy of respective brands

Deliciously Convenient Wines on the Go

With winter finally behind us and a long season of warm days and sunshine ahead, it’s time to start planning all your outdoor activities, concerts and parties (and the accompanying beverages, of course). It’s no secret that canned beers are a convenient choice for all your outdoor gigs, but there are options yet for all the wine lovers out there. Many reputable producers have started using eco-friendly and convenient packaging – from screwcap closures to boxes and cans – which means you can now find convenient wines that are also delicious. Check out these wines that are easy to transport, easy to open, easy to find and above all, easy to enjoy.

The scene: Outdoor concert
The wine: Union Wine Company’s Underwood Pinot Noir ($7.99/375 ml can)
What it tastes like: Keep it casual and sip out of the can, or pour it into a glass – either way, you’ll enjoy this Oregon pinot noir’s silky texture, lively acidity, and aromas and flavors of black cherry, ripe raspberry, plum, baking spices and cocoa. The wine is light but flavorful and pairs with a variety of foods, from simple cheese and charcuterie to more hearty fare. Pack a few of these Cola-sized cans to enjoy alongside a picnic on the venue’s lawn while you listen to your favorite band.
Where to find it: At various Whole Foods locations (

The scene: Lazy Sunday on the patio
The wine: Rebel Coast Winery’s “Sunday Funday” White Blend ($18.99/750 ml bottle)
What it tastes like: This aptly named sipper is a California blend of 90 percent steel barrel chardonnay, eight percent sauvignon blanc and two percent viognier. This isn’t your big, buttery, oaky wine: it’s crisp and fruity, with tons of juicy flavors of pineapple, pear and lime. It’s so easy to sip it’s a little bit dangerous, and the screwcap closure makes it even easier to open up a second bottle.
Where to find it: At Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore St. Arlington, VA;

The scene: Beach getaway weekend
The wine: Alloy Wine Works’ Grenache Rosé ($11.99/500 ml can; 15 percent off while supplies last)
What it tastes like: Not only is the can cute, this California Grenache rosé is really tasty: it’s both creamy and refreshing, with flavors of grapefruit, guava, flowers and wild strawberries. Pack it in the cooler and sip while you lounge in the sand with your feet in the ocean. The 500 ml can size is ideal for two to share, or for one to…not share. The other Alloy Wine Works canned wines (chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon) are also worth checking out.
Where to find it: At Union Market’s Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits (1309 5th St. NE, DC;

The scene: Bridal shower garden party
The wine: Leo Hillinger’s Secco Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé ($8/187 ml mini-bottle)
What it tastes like: This Austrian bubbly is soft and fruity, with lively acidity, tongue-tickling bubbles, and notes of ripe strawberries and red raspberries. This little single-serving bottle with an easy twist-off cap makes a perfect favor for bridal showers or bachelorette parties. Or just keep a bottle in your purse for sparkling wine emergencies.
Where to find it: At DCanter – A Wine Boutique (545 8th St. SE, DC;

The scene: Backyard BBQ
The wine: Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini’s Vino Rosso Toscana IGT ($30-$35/3-liter box)
What it tastes like: Boxed wines have always been convenient, but it’s all the better when the wine inside is actually good, too! This Sangiovese blend from Tuscany is bright ruby red, with smooth tannins and notes of red cherry and dried cranberries, and floral and earthy hints on the finish. It’s simple and light, and a hard-to-beat value at $30 for a 3-liter box. It’s great sipped solo or paired with meats or veggies fresh off your backyard grill.
Where to find it: At various Whole Foods locations ( and DCanter – A Wine Boutique (545 8th St. SE, DC;

Vino Rosso Toscana IGT photo: Tess Ankeny

All other photos: Courtesy of respective brands

Summer Canned Beer Roundup

Summer Canned Beer Roundup

Hopefully you’ve wrapped up your spring cleaning by now, so you can devote all your attention to the outdoors this summer. That means pool parties, day trips to go tubing in nearby rivers and, of course, outdoor music fests. We know you’d never get rowdy enough in the drippy summer heat to put your neighbor in danger with a glass bottle, but there’s always that one wobbly, angry dude – so most venues discriminate against any liquid wrapped in glass. Fear not. The craft beer revolution continues to progress at breakneck speed, and this summer happens to coincide with a glorious moment in craft history: the can is becoming king.

I’m not going to bore you with the details of the decades-old debate between can and bottle advocates, but rest assured, cans have their place in the beverage world. They’re easy to recycle. They keep the sun out. And they’re light to carry. So do what my cousin taught me to do back in high school: line your backpack with a few garbage bags brimming with ice, rip open a few cases of canned beer and then crack a can of craft goodness as you enjoy one of the best summers of your life!

DMV’s Finest
Craft breweries in the DMV are on the cutting edge in more ways than just taste and unique styles. When DC Brau hit the city’s streets back in 2009 – the first in the nation’s capital since 1956 when Heurich House went under – they were intent on filling local coolers with city pride. Their signature punchy pale ale and subdued IPA, Corruption Ale (shout out to you, Congress!) are canned and ready-made for anything the outdoors brings your way in the coming months.

But other local breweries are now catching up with DC Brau and the canning revolution. Atlas Brew Works’ flagship brews, Rowdy and District Common, are both available in cans and sold locally. And the Eastern Shore’s RAR – or Real Ale Revival – is now widely available in stores throughout the DMV (try their Reaper, which, at 8.3 percent ABV, you may want to be sitting down for). You’d also be wise to hop on a mini-road trip and hit up their Cambridge, Md. brewery, which is walking distance from the Chesapeake Bay and the freshest crabs around.

Down in Virginia, Devils Backbone is also getting into the canning business. They came out of the gates with a refreshing 4.7 percent ABV Hefeweizen – the Trail Angel Weissbier – so whether you’re hiking in the Shenandoah or listening to wofty jam bands, make sure to grab an orange or two to accompany your Hef.

Throw Your W’s Up
No one knows the outdoors better than our brothers and sisters out west, so let’s start this tour in Colorado – a craft beer mecca. Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins just started canning their Loose Leaf Session Ale. It’s only 4.5 percent ABV, which means you’ll be able to sip it all day and keep standing until the stars come out and you leave the fest for a friend’s backyard BBQ. Oh, and their remarkable canning setup is cranking out more than 300 cans per minute, so I don’t think we’ll be suffering any Leaf shortages this summer.

Be That Guy: Bring Nitro to a BBQ
You wanna turn a head or two at a cookout this summer? Grab a four pack of Sam Adams’ new nitro cans. Nitro was made famous by Guinness, but we’re Americans, damnit! Just like the original Boston Tea Party way back in the day, the Boston Beer Company is taking an idea from across the pond and making it vastly better. They’re currently available in three varieties: Nitro White Ale, Nitro IPA and Nitro Coffee Stout. You’ll wow anyone when you pop one and the heady foam bubbles up. These are better for a park concert than a festival, because once you pop it, you’re advised to immediately pour it into a glass.

Can’t Make Up Your Mind
Let’s face it. It’s summertime and you likely checked your brain at your office door on Friday before catching a happy hour. We’ve got you covered. If you don’t know what you – or your BBQ hosts – are in the mood for, just scoop a variety pack of CANundrum by Oskar Blues. It includes four of their staple Dale’s Pale Ales (which in its signature blue and red can often passes as a Pepsi at any place that discourages BYOB), four tasty yet muted Mama’s Little Yella Pils and four powerful Old Chub Scotch Ales. You can’t go wrong no matter what direction your taste buds direct you.

Sure, glass bottles are debatably better – or, at the very least, easier to consume – when you’re close to your own fridge, but this is the season to get outside and embrace all of the DMV, nature and whatever your wacky friends throw your way. Besides being easier to enjoy at outdoor venues, craft beer cans have made monumental strides this season. Why not show your appreciation, and cutting-edge style, by ditching the glass and grabbing a sixer next time you hit the local beer store? Oh, and don’t forget to pack plenty of water, too. It’s gonna be a hot one. Don’t be that wobbly one at the fest.

Bobby Flay

Tips from the Grill Master: Catching up with Bobby Flay

This spring, On Tap sat down with Chef Bobby Flay during a visit to the K Street location of his Bobby’s Burger Palace franchise. We chatted about his tips for grilling enthusiasts, top picks for what to grill this summer and what’s new on the menu at BBP.

On Tap: What’s one of your top tips for aspiring grillers and newbies alike? 
Bobby Flay: People that aren’t experienced on the grill tend to think that you have to flip and turn and flip and turn. But [you should] grill less, meaning that you let the grill do its job. Whether you’re cooking a steak, burger, piece of fish or even vegetables, you want it to stay on the grill on one side for as long as possible without charring or burning it to create a contrast of texture. And then you flip it one time, and do the same thing on the other side.

OT: Are there any rubs or marinades on your radar for the summer?
BF: I think combining red chilies and cocoa or red chilies and coffee, and then putting a touch of brown sugar in the rub, enhances the flavor and also helps it caramelize whatever you are spice rubbing. Not too much sugar – just a tiny bit – will make a huge difference.

OT: What’s one of your favorite summer recipes?
BF: I cook a lot of fish tacos in the summer. They’re so fun to eat. It’s a DIY kind of thing. I usually do a combination of some sort of white flaky fish and shellfish [for] grilled shrimp tacos and grilled fish tacos. [Then] make an array of different salsas – tomato [or] tomatillo salsa…[and] mango or pineapple salsa. Go to a store that has a bunch of different hot sauces and pick a couple out, maybe one that’s habanero-based or one that’s smoky. Slice avocado, or make guacamole or avocado relish, and then [add] something for crunch, some sort of slaw or cabbage.

OT: Any grilling twists on classic American fare to switch things up?
BF: Instead of hotdogs, get bratwursts. Take beer, some water and a little bit of vinegar and bring it to a simmer, [then] take the bratwursts, prick them with a fork, put them into the beer broth and let the beer broth soak into [them] so that they get great moisture. Take the bratwursts and put them on the grill so they get really crusty on the outside, and then you have all of this wonderful flavor and juiciness on the inside.

OT: How do you usually select the burger of the month at Bobby’s Burger Palace?
BF: Because this country is such a melting pot of cuisine, I try to emulate some of the flavors from different parts of the country. I get inspired by the places I that travel to in some way, shape or form.

OT: Any changes to the BBP menu?
BF: We just put three salads on our menu – the Super Kale salad, Palace Quinoa salad and Chopped Crunch salad. People want to eat more healthily these days. The cry that we get here is, “Where’s the veggie burger?” I think I’m going to spend the next few months trying to [create] one because I know it can be done, but the question is, “Can I make one that’s really great, but also be able to make it happen on a consistent basis?”

OT: What do you enjoy most about your DC location?
BF: My staff is amazing. I would say 90 percent of them have all been here since the beginning. I just love their passion. They really care about what they do. The thing I love about my burger places is that when I walk in, the customers and staff always seem to be smiling. And to me, that’s what it’s all about.

Bobby’s Burger Palace: 2121 K St. NW, DC 20037; 202-974-6260;


6 Craft Cocktails ideas
Expert barman is making cocktail at night club

6 Craft Cocktails for Summer

Now that the weather is finally warming up, handcrafted cocktails are trending hard. Whereas cold summer drinks once followed strict formulas that were only ever modified (e.g., blackberry and Meyer lemon gin and tonic) but not improved upon now mixologists in metro areas across the country are creating hand-crafted libations that are unlike anything you might find in the traditional bartender’s bible.

These are innovators using farm fresh ingredients and locally sourced or even homemade mixers combined with craft vodka and other spirits to create something more than an afternoon pick-me-up. Fresh and flavorful, these forward-thinking drinks put unusual ingredients, obscure glassware and cool new mixing techniques on the map.

Here are six must-try summer cocktails that will refresh and impress even the most jaded guests.

Chartreuse Swizzle
Served at the Clock Bar in San Francisco, the Chartreuse Swizzle features falernum, a classic rum based cordial from Barbados that has notes of ginger, lime, almonds and clove. Velvet falernum is stirred together with green chartreuse, fresh lime juice and fresh pineapple juice (plus crushed ice) and then garnished with grated nutmeg and a sprig of mint.

The Last Tango in Modena
Created by mixologists Matthew Bianciello, The Last Tango in Modena is a unique (and fun) after dinner cocktail deserving of a unique name. Part of what makes it so special is its use of 25-year-old aged Balsamic vinegar and N2O-charged St. Germain foam. The vinegar is combined with gin and muddled strawberries, which are shaken with ice and then strained. The St. Germain foam is a simple mix of the liqueur and egg whites that tops it off wonderfully.

The Rhubarb Mojito
Mixologists at Las Vegas’ Press have captured summer in this cocktail that makes perfect use of a classic ingredient that has lately become modish. And why not? The particular sweet/tart profile of this garden staple brightens the classic mojito and the pretty pop of pink is just right for summer get-togethers. The exact quantities that make the Press version so drinkable are hush hush, but you can devise your own take on it with homemade rhubarb syrup.

Mixologist (and philosopher) Jeremy Strawn devised this picture perfect summer cocktail that will give you a reason to dust off your coupe glasses. The Volstead is simple to make thanks to equal proportions of simple syrup, St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur, vodka (try Ketel One) and fresh lemon juice. Muddle four strawberries, add ¾ ounces of everything listed, shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Easy.

Pisco Nuevo
This is a summer cocktail based on a South American brandy with a rich history is made uber modern thanks to the addition of lychee syrup. The syrup, Pisco, St. Germain, the juice of one orange and two pitted lychee fruits come together over crushed ice in the Pisco Nuevo – a staple of the now shuttered Sra. Martinez in Miami. It’s sweet and bold, but (as is important in summertime) not so sweet it feels like you’re drinking dessert.

What makes a summer cocktail perfect? The five concoctions above are the embodiment of cool, but they’re also bright and fresh and fun. Summer mixing is also about highlighting vibrant colors and flavors – especially local flavors or even berries grown right in your own back yard. So while all of the above drinks are crowd pleasers don’t feel like you need to wait for a crowd. Test them solo on a summer afternoon or give them your own twist – sip and enjoy!