Silver Late Night November (1)

Silver Late Night Social

Guests to the newly opened Silver restaurant in Bethesda enjoyed drink and food samples along with happy hour specials. Photos: Brittany Thomas.

Ivy City Speakeasy

Ivy City Speakeasy at Hecht Warehouse

Guests at the Ivy City Speakeasy at Hecht Warehouse enjoyed a repeal day celebration with prohibition-era cocktails from Jos, A Magnus, One Eight Distilling and New Columbia Distillers. Also on tap, Atlas Brew Works and music from Justin Trawick. Photos: Adrianne Depew

Late Night Snacks

Nightcaps and Late Night Snacks

Time for a post-holiday party nightcap with friends? Need a quick snack after shopping late for presents? If only happy hour were at the end of the night instead of the beginning!  You’re in luck: here’s your bespoke list of DC’s late-night holiday dining and drinking destinations.

Aqua 301

When: Nightly, 9pm – close

This becomes the Waterfront’s premier late-night destination when it reverts to its happy hour menu – look for the crave-worthy $6 margaritas and sangria. Aqua 301: 301 Water St. SE; DC; 202-484-0301; www.agua301.com

Bar Code

When: Monday, 3pm – 12am

Start early and go late at this West End party institution. They’ll have Monday night football on, so you can catch the game while enjoying your $5 burgers and half off drinks (and/or your $8 Belvedere mixed bevvie). Bar Code: 1101 17th St. NW, DC; 202-955-9001; www.barcodedc.com

Bourbon 

When: Thursday – Saturday, 11pm – close

Find yourself drinking late, college-style, in AdMo? Instead of diving for a jumbo slice, head to Bourbon for their Late Night Bites Menu (hamburgers, sandwiches). It’s so much nicer than standing on the sidewalk with a cheese-covered piece of cardboard. Bourbon: 2321 18th St. NW, DC; 202-332-0800; www.bourbondc.com

City Tap House 

When: Friday & Saturday, 11pm – 1am

The happy hour menu does double duty at City Tap House on Fridays and Saturdays. Go after an evening at the Verizon Center, or after shopping on 7th Street, for $5 craft beers and $6 house wines. A limited late-night food menu featuring flatbread and pizza is also available. City Tap House: 901 9th St. NW, DC; 202-733-5333;www.citytaphousedc.com

Del Campo

When: Thursday – Saturday, 10pm – 12am

Drop in on the Late Night Hora Feliz at this Latin carnivore’s hotspot for a range of $6 drinks (including Bartender’s Choice of beer and a shot). Del Campo: 777 I St. NW, DC; 202-289-7377; www.delcampodc.com

District Commons

When: Monday – Saturday, 10pm; Sun., 8pm

Holiday shopping burns serious calories. Refuel at District Commons, which rings the dinner bell at 10 p.m. for “Family Meal.” Every night, it’s something different – from fried chicken to fish tacos – but it’s always only $12 per person. District Commons: 2200 Washington Circle NW, DC; 202-587-8277; www.districtcommonsdc.com

Drafting Table

When: Wednesday – Saturday, 10pm – 1am

If you’re out on 14th Street, wrap up the night with some suds at Drafting Table’s late beer happy hour. Drafting Table: 1529 14th St. NW, DC; 202-621-7475;www.draftingtabledc.com

Eat the Rich 

When: Tuesday – Saturday 11pm – close; Sunday, 9:30pm – close

Maybe you were next door at Mockingbird Hill’s glam Christmas pop-up bar; maybe it was too crowded. In any case, this sibling to Mockingbird Hill is a worthy late-night retreat with $1 oysters and rotating drink specials. Eat the Rich: 1839 7th St. NW, DC; 202-316-9396; www.etrbar.com

Fainting Goat 

When: Thursday – Saturday, 11pm – 1am

Looking for a late-night snack after jingle bell parties on U Street? The Fainting Goat is there for you with a nice little menu of burgers, flatbreads, and (of course) goat cheese fondue. Fainting Goat: 1330 U St. NW, DC; 202-735-0344; www.faintinggoatdc.com

The Hamilton

When: Nightly, 11pm – close

Near the White House late and hungry? Done with dancing at the W, and starving? Head to The Hamilton, where the late-night menu includes hamburgers and boozy milkshakes. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; 202-787-1000;www.thehamiltondc.com

Johnny Pistola’s 

When: Monday – Friday, 10pm – 12am

In AdMo late and craving tequila? Join us at Johnny’s for $5 margaritas, or maybe a $3 Tecate. Johnny Pistola’s: 2333 18th St. NW, DC; 202-817-3255;www.johnnypistolas.com

Old Ebbitt Grill

When: Nightly, 11pm – 1am

You are not a true Washingtonian if you haven’t done Old Ebbitt’s late night seafood happy hour, when oysters, clams, crab claws, shrimp and platters are half off. Old Ebbitt Grill: 675 15th St. NW, DC; 202-347-4800; www.ebbitt.com

Open City

When: Nightly, 11pm – close

Sidle up to the bar at this Woodley Park classic and order a $6 “Ribbon & Rye Combo,” $5 house wine, or the $5 Cocktail of the Week. Open City: 2331 Calvert St. NW, DC; 202-332-2331; www.opencitydc.com

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana 

When: Sunday-Wednesday, 10pm – 12am; Thu – Sat, 11pm – 2am

This corner of the Jose Andrés’ empire stays open for those in Penn Quarter with late-night munchies: order from an abbreviated menu of tortas, tacos and small plates (highlight: two tacos for $4). Margaritas are $12 and beer $4. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana: 401 7th St. NW, DC; 202-628-1005; www.oyamel.com

Stoney’s on L 

When: Nightly, 11pm – close

One of our favorite late happy hours at a classic DC dive: $6 personal pizza, $5 grilled cheese, $4 rail drinks and wine and $7 for any of their signature Rickeys. Stoney’s on L: 2101 L St. NW #103, DC; 202-721-0019;  www.stoneysonl.com

Teddy & The Bully Bar 

When: Wednesday – Thursday, 10pm – 12am;  Fri. – Sat., 11pm – 1am

This posh south Dupont stalwart offers cocktails on tap for $8; spirits and wine are available as well. Hungry? Half-shell oysters are $2, and there’s a selection of snacks (truffle popcorn!), flatbreads, tacos and biscuits. Theodore would approve. Teddy & The Bully Bar: 1200 19th St. NW, DC; 202-872-8700; www.teddyandthebullybar.com

 

Late Night at Silver

When: Friday – Saturday, 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday – Thursday, 10 p.m. – midnight

What is better after a long night of parties than a diner? Answer: a diner with cocktails.

Late Night Grub Picks

  • Chimichurri Chicken Wings with salsa roja, black sesame seeds and ranch dressing. 4 for $6  or 8 for $10
  • Fresh Komex Tacos with corn tortillas, Korean gochujang sauce, avocado, pickled ginger and topped with a daikon radish, peanuts and cilantro. Portabella or Chicken $6 / Short Rib $7
  • Crispy Brussels Sprouts with cinnamon chipotle spiced, apricots, cranberries, pecans and ranch. $7
  • Creekstone Angus Sliders with Adobo mayo, cheddar cheese, pickle on sesame challah roll. 2 for $5 or 3 for $8

Nightcap

  • $7 house wines, choose from Round Hill Chardonnay and 10 Span Cabernet Sauvignon
  • $6 House Spirits featuring Tito’s Vodka, Beefeater Gin, Bacardi Rum, El Jimador Tequila, Jim Beam Whiskey, George Dickel Rye and  Dewars Scotch
  • 3 Happy Hour cocktails  featuring the Moscow Mule $6, Paloma $6 and  NY Sour $7

Relax
Silver features a 1920s art deco bar and the late night scene offers a unique combination of lounge style music and remixes of heritage music  like big band, jazz and swing. Also enjoy a heated patio from December – March. Silver: 7150 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, MD; 301.652.9780; www.eatatsilver.com

7 Locks Brewing

New Open Concept Brewery 7 Locks Brewing

Montgomery County there’s a new brewery in town. Last month, 7 Locks Brewing opened for business and On Tap had the opportunity to chat with Jim Beeman, one of two owners. “There are four of us total,” Beeman says of the new operation, which includes head brewer Thomas Hartman, “six if you count our wives.” 7 Locks Brewing aims to be a no-frills, community brewery that focuses on traditional versions of classic styles. “I’ve always been interested in brewing” Beeman continues, “We wanted to make a place that is valuable in the community, that makes balanced beers. Well-balanced malt and hops, complimentary bodies.” Beeman hopes that 7 Locks Brewing will appeal to beer drinkers who are interested in standard styles of beer that do not rely heavily on a lot of experimental ingredients. “We want to limit the use of adjunct brewing and instead create true-to-style beers like a good solid stout or other styles that you typically don’t find.” Beeman does however plan on getting into barrel aging. They have several barrels arriving at the end of the month that they plan to utilize as soon as possible.

The brewery currently offers six beers on draft. The flagship is called Red Rye. It has a nice red color and a resinous hop aroma that is complimented by the spice from the rye malt. They also feature a coffee and oatmeal stout. Staying true to the brewery’s mission, neither beer actually contains coffee or oatmeal; rather the malt imparts the flavors. Both stouts are available on draft and nitro, a concept that Beeman says will demonstrate how flavors can be altered by carbonation. Soon they will begin work on an IPA that will pose a similar malt bill but utilize a different hop varietal with each batch to showcase the versatility of hops.

The brewery is a 15-barrel system, meaning they can produce about twenty kegs a batch. There are four 15-barrel conical fermentation vessels and one 15-barrel brite tank.

“We have an open concept,” says Beeman, “all of our tanks are out in conjunction with the brewing room. We wanted to keep it this way because it’s a unique experience to have a beer in the brewery, to see how the process works. It’s a cool way to let people witness what is going on in the brewery at all times.”

Another cool aspect of the brewery is its food program, or lack thereof. “We are a straight production brewery,” Beeman continues, “There is no food on premise. We do have food trucks out there on a semi regular basis. Guests are invited to bring their own food or order carryout. There are several places that deliver.” 7 Locks Brewing aims to be a sports destination. “We have a few TVs and are open on Sundays so the Redskins will always be on.” Jim is currently working on happy hours that will include pint and growler specials on Wednesdays and Thursdays. To enjoy a tasty beverage and get a glimpse into the brewing process, stop by 7 Locks Brewing. Cheers!

7 Locks Brewing: 12227 Wilkins Ave., Rockville, MD; www.7locksbrewing.com

Casking cocktails

Concerning Casking The Basics of Barrel-Aging Beer & Cocktails

Casking Beers

What exactly is cask beer? The simple answer is unfiltered and unpasteurized beer that experiences its carbonation naturally and is served at cellar temperature, around 55 degrees. Rather than injecting the beer with co2, the carbonation occurs through secondary fermentation, which essentially means injecting live yeast into the firkin, the vessel the beer will be served from.

Trying a beer on cask for the first time can be strange. It tastes warmer than draft beer. It’s less carbonated and has a different mouth feel. It’s poured from a different mechanism and requires tools like spiles, shives, spigots and a keystone. But cask beer showcases the taste and aroma of beer in a way that cannot be achieved on draft.

Cask ales are a staple in the U.K. but are gaining massive popularity in the U.S. as well. “I’m a big fan of the traditional English styles,” says Bill Madden, CEO and Chief Executive Brewer at Mad Fox Brewing in Falls Church. Both Mad Fox taprooms have cask beer options; Glover Park has three hand pumps and Falls Church has six. “The goal with cask ale is to have a properly conditioned cask. To have that we have to rotate through the hand pumps,” says Madden, “we are not always at capacity since we must allow space for the others to properly condition in the firkin, then they must be dropped and served at the proper condition and settle. This takes about 24 hours.”

One difficulty with American cask ales is maintaining a balance of flavors. “The unfortunate side of casks is that the firkins have a bung [a hole through which the firkin is filled or emptied]. A lot of things get stuffed in there that shouldn’t be. The American business is often infusing cocoa nibs or other additives in the cask. Not what traditional casks do.” Madden continues; “but to keep current with industry demands we occasionally do some odd stuff. The Funk was a dry-hop Saison that we first did on cask. We got to tasting it and it was a great beer” it has since become a mainstay on draft.

“While it is an old tradition, widespread cask availability is a relatively new concept in the U.S.” says Christopher Leonard, Brewmaster and Operations Manager at Heavy Seas out of Baltimore. The brewery features the largest cask program in the country, producing 50-100 firkins each month. “We focus on our English and American-style ales – IPA, English Pale Ale, Porter, Imperial Stout, ESB and Gold Ale.” According to Leonard, cask beer is part of the foundation upon which Heavy Seas was founded; “the tradition, flavor, style and romance of cask conditioned ales were an inspiration to Hugh Sisson in founding Heavy Seas back in 1995. He had spent time in England and came to love the cask ales there.”

Leonard feels that there is much more to cask beer than simply the flavor; “there is an additional hands-on approach that cask ales provide the consumer – a connection to the brewer if you will – that moves us to continue producing beers this way. Each cask is a living, evolving, unique beer. So, each experience with one of our casks can be exciting and personal.” Because of the live yeast used in secondary fermentation, the beers are actually “alive” when they arrive at the bar. This reduces the shelf life of cask beer and is one of the reasons proper English-made cask ales are a rarity in this country; it is difficult to transport fresh casks over the Atlantic.

“Further, cask beer is a different experience,” Leonard continues, “the decreased carbonation, the cool temperature, the hand pull aerating the beer slightly – all contribute to the full realization of the ingredients singing in harmony. One can truly taste the malts, the hops, the yeast generated esters – all without the intrusion of carbonation or mouth numbing coldness.”

A unique feature that Heavy Seas offers their accounts is the ability to customize the firkins themselves. “We offer our base liquids,” says Leonard, “and provide a ‘menu’ of hops, wood, and TTB exempt ‘adjuncts’ (orange peel, cocoa nibs, coffee beans, cherries, etc.) from which the retailer can choose.” The menu provides over 3 million unique combinations, which ensures that every firkin Heavy Seas produces is special.

Next time you see a cask beer option on the list, give it a try and keep an eye out for Mad Fox and Heavy Seas beers at a bar near you. BM

Learn more about Mad Fox Brewery at www.madfoxbrewing.com and Heavy Seas atwww.hsbeer.com.

Casking Cocktails

The barrel-aged cocktail has moved from novelty act to ubiquitous. Peek behind the bar at your favorite watering hole and it’s no longer unusual to see one or several small barrels stashed away. They aren’t there for decor, but instead, house mini science laboratories, chemically imparting the magic of charred oak flavors to the boozy concoctions stored within.

If wood barrels can make everything from whiskey and rum to cognac and wine more flavorful when done correctly, then why can’t they do the same for a cocktail, aging its ingredients together as one? It’s an easy way for bartenders to either add more flavor, change a base flavor, or marry disparate flavors together, while also having a pre-batched cocktail ready to go.

At The Dupont Circle Hotel’s Bar Dupont, GM Chris McNeal has quietly developed an innovative cocktail program which includes a lineup of four barrel-aged cocktails, sourcing 5-liter charred barrels from Filibuster Bourbon. The current list includes a Boulevardier, with bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari; The Final Ward, with rye whiskey, chartreuse and maraschino liqueur; Remember the Maine, with rye whiskey, house-made cherry heering, sweet vermouth and an absinthe wash; and the Michigan Cherry Manhattan, with cherry vodka, rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.

Creating the perfect barrel-aged cocktail takes one part patience, one part experimentation, and one part careful, ongoing analysis. Maybe this really is like a mini science lab!

“First use [barrels] generally take on oak quickly and I have a tendency to double the time the second time around,” explains McNeal. Meaning, as he continues to re-use the barrels, he fine-tunes and controls the process to ensure he’s delivering the same result, even as the wood inside the barrel offers different aging properties.

To do so, he regularly tastes from each barrel. “I pull a sample in a test tube every week and taste and record the information according to color, taste, texture and character,” he explains.

McNeal opts for the 5-liter barrels for convenience and efficiency. “It’s the smallest I can do here at the bar without running out in a week,” he says. Meanwhile, larger barrels such as 53-gallon and 30-gallon barrels common in the whiskey industry take far longer to impart the same flavors.

Don Ciccio & Figli has gained traction locally with their diverse lineup of high quality liqueurs. Company founder Francesco Amodeo draws from classic recipes rooted in family history and Italian culture, while also incorporating new ideas and techniques of his own.

One such creation is the Amaro delle Sirene, a traditional bitter liqueur with roots to the early 1900’s along the Amalfi Coast. Last made by Monpigar in 1931, Amodeo has brought it back to life at Don Ciccio & Figli. They barrel-age each batch for between 30 and 45 days in 225-L French oak barrels which had previously been used by Amalfi Coast wine producer Marisa Cuomo Winery.

A special edition of the Amaro delle Sirene has also been released. This “Edizione Speciale” of the liqueur has been solera-aged for 12 months, with inspiration coming from the Sherry aging process.

To get in on the fun at home, turn to another local company, Copper Fox Distillery. They sell an at-home barrel-aging kit, complete with a 2-liter charred barrel, two 750ml bottles of unaged cask strength spirits, either their single malt or their rye, and instructions to help guide you along.

This way, you can age your own whiskey, and then when you’re done, you can experiment with barrel-aging your own cocktails, either with that whiskey or with any other spirit.

McNeal offers several tips for those looking to age their own cocktails at home. “Never put any fresh juices in your barrel,” he warns. “Instead, add those ingredients out of the barrel.”

Whiskey is a logical base spirit to choose, while gin works in the right cocktail, and vodka is best avoided. Before just throwing any random combination of ingredients in the barrel, also consider if you think those flavors would work well. McNeal says to ask yourself, “Would this taste good with a little softer, oak edge to it?”

Finally, McNeal advises to, “Make sure you add bold cordials or a second major liquor to enhance the cocktail.” JE

If you’d rather do the sampling than the creating, then here are a few more spots where you can try barrel-aged drinks around town. 


Ambar
Balkan hotspot Ambar offers two barrel-aged concoctions for you to explore, a barrel-aged negroni, and a barrel-aged Manhattan, each priced at $12. Ambar: 523 8th St. SE; 202-813-3039; www.ambarrestaurant.com

Bibiana Osteria Enoteca
During the holiday season, Bibiana unleashes their 25 cocktail countdown to Christmas, with enough seasonal drinks to take you straight from the start of the month to the holiday. All priced at $12, one is a barrel-aged negroni which rests all year long, a full 12 months, for the occasion. Bibiana Osteria Enoteca: 1100 New York Ave. NW; 202-216-9550; www.bibianadc.com

Bourbon
Bourbon keeps a rotating collection of seasonal barrel-aged cocktails in stock, generally with four available at a time. They age each for a month. All priced at $14, recent selections included a spiced Sazerac and a Manhattan. Bourbon: 2321 18th St. NW; 202-332-0800; www.bourbondc.com

Lupo Verde
At Lupo Verde, where Amodeo serves as beverage director, he created the Alexis cocktail, featuring his barrel-aged Amaro Delle Sirene. Priced at $13, the cocktail also includes bourbon, Don Ciccio & Figli’s walnut liqueur, Nocino and orange bitters. Lupo Verde: 1401 T St. NW; 202-827-4752; www.lupoverdedc.com

Masa 14
Masa 14 has three barrel-aged cocktails on hand depending on which base spirit you prefer. All priced at $13, there’s a barrel-aged negroni, barrel-aged Masa Manhattan, and barrel-aged The Ascot, with tequila, Luxardo Cherry liqueur and Lillet Blanc. Masa 14: 1825 14th St. NW; 202-328-1414; www.richardsandoval.com/masa14

Blue Duck Tavern
Park Hyatt Washington’s Blue Duck Tavern is offering a play on the classic Vieux Carre, called the Meridian Hill. They use all white, unaged spirits, and then barrel-age the cocktail together. The drink includes George Dickel white whiskey, Domaine D’espérance White Armagnac, Amontillado Sherry, white port, and bitters. You can also try a non-barrel aged version side-by-side to compare the effects of the aging process. Blue Duck Tavern at Park Hyatt Washington: 1201 24th St. NW; 202-789-1234; www.parkwashington.hyatt.com

Rye Bar
The barrel-aged Manhattan at the Rye Bar, located in the Capella Hotel in Georgetown, may set you back a pretty penny at $22 per drink but it also may be the best Manhattan of any kind in town, made with Dad’s Hat rye whiskey, and full-size barrels for aging. Rye Bar: 1050 31st St. NW; 202-617-2400; www.capellahotels.com

The Royal
The Royal makes their own vermouth in house, barrel-aging a huge batch and then serving it on tap at the bar for $8. The result is entirely distinctive to most other vermouths, a bit of a mix between a dry and sweet style. They also use that signature vermouth in a seasonally changing list of cocktails. The Royal: 501 Florida Ave. NW; 202-332-7777; www.theroyaldc.com

DC Bartenders

Happy Holidays From DC Bartenders Getting in to the Festive Spirit

 

Jim Hewes of the Round Robin & Scotch Bar at The Willard InterContinental

On Tap: What are the holidays like around here?
Jim Hewes: The thing that is interesting about the holiday season is come Monday morning after Thanksgiving, the entire lobby of the Willard, everything, is decorated. We have different choral groups coming in every night up until Christmas. So you have a couple hundred people out in the lobby, drinking cider and singing Christmas carols, but the whole place is decked out. Come downtown and sure, you want to see the lighting of the Christmas tree, but you want to walk through the Willard Hotel because it just gives you that holiday feeling.

OT: Any festive cocktails on the menu?
JH: We do a hot spiced cider and the whole downstairs here fills up with the smell of cinnamon. We also do a jingle bell julep, a variation on the classic mint julep that has all the colors of the season. And then we have a hot buttered rum, a very traditional recipe. We also have a drink called the sugar plum, which is a neat drink, kind of a variation on a cosmo, served straight up, but fruit and kind of a minty flavor to it. And then we have another drink called a poinsettia, which is champagne, framboise and cranberry, very seasonal.

OT: Your job here seems to be part bartender, part historian…
JH: History is my background and education. I walked into the Round Robin and was hired and you know you walk into that room and you realize all the pictures on the wall. If you don’t know what’s going on then who is going to know? So, I started collecting things, even though I always have, but focused on the sidelines of the Willard, what really happened and who these people in the pictures are.

OT: Any cool history facts up your sleeve?
JH: Oh I have lots. The Thomas Jefferson story is a great one. It’s 1809, he hands the keys to James and Dolly [Madison] and they go off to the White House. Jefferson is standing there, it starts raining and he’s like what do I do now? He lives in Charlottesville, but he hasn’t lived there in eight years, he’s been in the White House. The owner of this property who knew Jefferson said ‘hey, why don’t we go up to my place’ and they sat right where this bar is and they drank port. And then Jefferson stayed for like three weeks and didn’t leave.

OT: Favorite holiday memory at the Round Robin?
JH: I think back to 15 years ago or so, there were four generations of a family sitting in the corner of the bar – the grandfather, the father, the son and the great grandson and I walk over and the grandfather goes, “My great grandson has something he wants to tell you.” And I look at him and the kid is about 5 years old and he says to me, “When I’m 21, I want to have my first drink with my dad and grandfather right here.” Fifteen years later it’s the holiday season, and they had in the meantime been coming over the years to the bar, and the boy was now a 21 year old. And in the corner there he was at 21 having a drink with all of them, his dad, grandfather and great grandfather.

OT: You said I was in the “Clooney chair,” so obviously I’m going to need to hear about this…
JH: So George Clooney and his buddy where in here the night before they were going up to the Sudanese Embassy and his back was to people so they couldn’t see who he was from behind, right where you are sitting. Clooney was joking about how he didn’t think his father realized what they were about to get into. And then they come back in again, after the arrest and all and he jokes, “I just spent three hours in a cell with my dad and he wouldn’t shut up!”

Round Robin & Scotch Bar: 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-628-9100;www.washington.intercontinental.com

Julie Gilkison of Due South

On Tap: Any fun cocktails for the holidays at Due South?
Julie Gilkison: Yes, we get to do our own infusions which is fun because we have a lot of freedom with it. We are offering an espresso bourbon and bacon and bourbon. We have almost 100 bourbons and whiskeys so definitely heavy on the bourbon side of things. I’m not that much of a bourbon drinker though, so I’m always rooting for the girlier drink, so I’m going to be infusing candy canes in vodka and we’re doing peppermint hot chocolate and candy cane martinis.

OT: What is an overused ingredient in cocktails during the holidays?
JG: Apple, especially apple cider during the winter. I really like using pine sprigs, but I think people automatically go to apples for winter. I guess people could say the same thing about peppermint, but I’m just sick of apple cider for the winter.

OT: Holidays are always a busy time at bars, any crazy stories you can share?
JG: My first bartending job was at a college bar in Athens, Georgia. It was really high volume and there was no bar food. New Year’s Eve was insane, all hands on deck, all the time. And one year, we had people sliding down the stairs in garbage cans and people stealing our tip jars. We did catch them after all the madness. By the end of the night, we had missed midnight and didn’t even know it had happened because it was so crazy! So that kind of set the precedent for working at a high volume bar. So now, when it’s crazy at Due South I’m thinking, this is nothing.

OT: Any traditions you have during the holidays?
JG: Christmas for me means going home to Chicago where my family lives. We always do winter sangria and experiment with that, and then always do a champagne cocktail for New Years. I like to do a twist on a kier royal with something different. Last year, we did winter berries and fur sprig with prosecco.

OT: Holidays in Chicago compared to DC?
JG: Totally different but I love it. This was my first Thanksgiving in DC and you know you see a lot more people coming for the holidays — and DC people leave for the holidays. Everyone is happy and its jolly and I like seeing all the decorations everywhere and it’s nice to see people who are usually so serious kind of take a step back and appreciate the season.

OT: What is your favorite holiday/drink combination?
JG: I have such a sweet tooth, so definitely something with cookies. My mom and I always make sugar cookies at the holidays (even though we don’t make them for Santa anymore). So that with a nice glass of wine. There’s nothing like curling up next to the fire with a blanket, cookies and wine. Sometimes it’s not about the cocktail, it’s about the environment.

Due South: 301 Water St. SE, DC; 202-479-4616; www.duesouthdc.com

Brook Vandecar at Succotash

On Tap: Any special plans for the holidays at Succotash?
Brook Vandecar: Well it’s our first holiday season, so we don’t have any traditions just yet, but the holidays are going to be festive here, they’re going to be fun. We try to make the restaurant a bit of an oasis in the midst of all this industrial space. National Harbor is great, but it’s all very planned, so we are trying to make the most of our corner and make it very welcoming. You know the south is warm and welcoming and we want to make sure that as you approach us, you feel that energy from us.

OT: Do you guys pause between Thanksgiving and Christmas or is it full steam ahead?
BV: Come Friday we are ready. There is a lot of shopping going on at the outlet mall up the street and all the people are coming down here for food and it’s great. We’ll do some additions to the menu for Christmas and add some beverages. We are going to keep it simple though. In our experience, when people come to restaurants that change up their entire menu offering for the holidays, you lose your core audience.

OT: Eggnog is a popular beverage this time of year. Any fun twists to this beverage?
BV: I actually have made different types of eggnog by switching up the milk, so one with coconut milk, one with brown rice horchata. I like to do gluten free and vegan eggnogs that taste absolutely amazing. It is possible to do no dairy, but they still have a creamy base.

OT: What are some seasonal beverages on the menu for the holidays?
BV: Two of our signature cocktails are both very seasonal, the Milk Punch and the Kentucky Winter. The Kentucky Winter is a frozen cocktail made with frozen Jim Beam bourbon, almond milk, coconut milk, cardamom and cane syrup. It’s a frozen bourbon slushy. The Milk Punch is probably the most interesting.

OT: That sounds to me like a twist on eggnog?
BV: Eggnog is delicious and creamy but I can only take one sip. With the milk punch we basically infuse five different spirits with pineapple, cinnamon, star anise and a few other ingredients, but then we strain it and then add boiling milk to it. And then we strain that out and let all the solids fall. Then we syphon off the clarified mixture and it’s a boozy cocktail, but it doesn’t taste overly boozy, but still creamy in the mouth.

OT: This sounds pretty involved?
BV: It takes about three days but we want it to be ours, interesting and perfect. It was a long process but it’s amazing. This is my favorite cocktail on the menu by far. The flavor, the complexity, it’s not too heavy. You still get the creaminess and we serve it on a big ice cube with a lemon twist.

Succotash: 186 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD; 301-567-8900;www.succotashrestaurant.com

Cider Press 2015 (16)

On Tap’s 3rd Annual Cider Sampling to Benefit SCAN

Guests enjoyed ciders from Woodchuck, Wyder’s, Blackthorn, Magners, Castle Hill, Bold Rock, Cobbler Mountain, Crispin, Original Sin, Winchester Cider Works at Blackwall Hitch in Alexandria with music from Justin Trawick. Photos by Alanna Sheppard.

Mad Fox Cask Ale Festival (19)

Cask Ale Festival at Mad Fox

Guests at Cask Ale Festival enjoyed samples from an extensive cask ales, learned about proper cask conditioned ales and enjoyed grilled food and live music. Photos: Shelly Coates

EmporiYUM

EmporiYUM at Union Market

EmporiYUM featured over 75 vendors from across the country. Guests sampled food and pantry products from vendors and enjoyed sauces, wines and desserts made by local companies and farms. Photos: Cristina O’Connell

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 12: Chefs Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Carla Hall, and Anne Burrell celebrate winning the celebrity cook-off at DC Central Kitchen's Capital Food Fight at the Ronald Reagan Building on November 12, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for DC Central Kitchen's Capital Food Fight)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 12: Chefs Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Carla Hall, and Anne Burrell celebrate winning the celebrity cook-off at DC Central Kitchen's Capital Food Fight at the Ronald Reagan Building on November 12, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for DC Central Kitchen's Capital Food Fight)

Capital Food Fight at The Ronald Reagan Building

Presented by Tyson, the Capital Food Fight brought together over 1,200 guests, 75 tasting restaurants, as well as cocktail mixologists and live on-stage entertainment. Battling chefs were asked to create dishes using secret ingredients ranging from an entire pig, presented by Tyson, to brown sugar & mustard ham glaze, presented by Whole Foods.  Chef Amy Brandwein won the final battle over Chef K.N. Vinod for her use of pig shoulder in the final battle. The event raised over $550,000 for DC Central Kitchen, a Washington, DC nonprofit committed to addressing hunger and poverty. Photos courtesy DC Central Kitchen