4 panache pubs dc

Sip in Style: 4 of the Most Panache Pubs in DC

Washington DC is home to an eclectic assortment of must-see, must-do stops. There is the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol Building. But the capital of the United States is known for more than politics. When the sun goes down, DC comes alive and the heart of the city beats throughout the many nightlife venues. Few, though, manage to pull off the magical combination of swagger and class.That being said, here are four of the classiest bars in all of Washington, D.C.

The Rye Bar
Located at Capella Washington, DC, Georgetown, the  Rye Bar lives up to its name and offers a large selection of finely crafted American rye whiskeys. DC has had a long love affair with whiskey, as some of its most notable residents were whiskey enthusiasts. Thomas Jefferson is recorded as being knee-deep in the whiskey trade, and  George Washington was one of the most famous whiskey producers.

In addition to a large selection of rye whiskies, the bar boasts an extensive selection of high-class spirits and liquors, like Herradura Tequila and top shelf champagne. The establishment also employs specially trained bartenders who create drinks by hand and with traditional utensils, which adds to the ambiance of class and integrity.

The Rye Bar: 1050 31st NW, DC; www.capellahotels.com

Quill
Located within the famous Jefferson Hotel,  Quill exudes an air of refined elegance. It is pricey and debonair, so most patrons visit Quill for special occasions. The intimate lounge, cigar-smoking patio and specialty drinks make it a favorite among the DC night-lifers.

Quill also offers appetizers, a variety of wines and beers and delicacies, such as crab cake sliders and shrimp cocktail. Quill also has delectable seasonal cocktails, such as the Holly Jolly. This drink is made with cranberry-infused Ketel One and spiced cranberry prosecco. The thematic décor is based on the life of Thomas Jefferson, and the walls are dotted with maps that chart Jefferson’s journeys.

Quill: 1200 16th St. NW, DC;  www.jeffersondc.com

Degrees
Boasting innovative dishes and specialty cocktails, Degrees has a special small plates menu with unique regional and internationally inspired dishes. These pair wonderfully with the restaurant’s clever cocktails and long list of wines.

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown houses the illustrious  Degrees bar and restaurant. It works extensively to create an industrial-chic atmosphere that coincides with the modern design of the hotel with hardwood floors, black-slated bar and timeless bistro tables. Patrons favor specialty drinks, such as the hot chocolate with Bailey’s creme de mint.

Degrees: 3100 S St NW, DC;  www.ritzcarlton.com

Barmini by José Andrés

One of the most modern bars on the classy DC list,  Barmini is the brain child of José Andrés, a noted avante garde culinary artist who has branched out into cocktail creations. The cocktail lab offers over 100 artisan cocktails that are hand-crafted and brilliantly executed.

The establishment is recognized as a culinary research and development ThinkFoodGroup, and the minibar is considered the testing ground for the concepts and projects of Andrés and his staff. A favorite specialty here is the Veruka Salt, which contains pineapple grog, peanut rum, sugar and salted peanut crumbs.

Although DC is home to the throne of democracy, the night-life bars of swagger and class are home to the chalice. So next time you’re in DC, consider skipping the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and take in the history one drink at a time.

Barmini by José Andrés: 855 E St NW, DC; www.minibarbyjoseandres.com

Right Proper Brookland Production House
Photo: Nick Hardt

Bierdo Visits Right Proper Brookland Production House

It’s already been a tough 2016 Bierdos! Rock star and celebrity deaths have become an alarmingly increasing weekly ritual on my Facebook newsfeed—enough to drive you to drink! Music has been a passion of mine for longer than my love of beer, so it was time to raise a cold one in DC for some fallen Bowie-esque “heroes” to celebrate all the great music that changed my life. It just so happened we were raising a glass of DC Brau’s Alpha Domina Mellis (an amazing new DIPA made with local honey and 100 IBU’s of experimental hops) last week for Lemmy of Motorhead with my DC Brau tasting room and concert buddy Jon Pacella, when I realized that a seven-minute drive northeast was the new Right Proper Brookland Production House (920 Girard St. DC; 202-526-5904; www.rightproperbrewing.com), and I had to absolutely check it out. As I entered the extravagant new tasting room, randomly enough, I was greeted by the sound of the rambunctious joyful singing of bar goers and the chiming keys of an old piano. “How ironic,” I thought (still reminiscing about all the music I had thought we had lost that week) as I followed the tunes to what ended up to be the bathroom, where to my surprise sat a full piano in the corner of the men’s room. “Now this was a place with character,” I thought out loud as I was invited to sing—and we hadn’t even gotten to the beers yet!

“I’ll say it again, truly, ‘The road goes on forever and the party never ends’.” –Robert Earl Keen

The Brookland Tasting Room & Production House is a beautiful, reclaimed cherrywood bar, adorned with growlers to fill and the wonderful old brickwork and artwork you’re accustomed to at their first location, Right Proper Shaw Brewpub & Kitchen (624 T Street, NW DC 202-607-2337), only the new facility is located on Girard Street NE near 10th Street NE in the residential neighborhood of Brookland—a lovely neighborhood retreat for young professionals and hipsters who don’t want the corporate setting of downtown DC, but who still want an element of class and design. It’s a cozy tasting nook with an amazing facility where you can view the rustic wooden foudres and spotless new brewing equipment from the tasting room window or take tours of on Saturdays, every hour from 1:30-6:30 p.m. Tasting room hours are Thursday through Friday 5-9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 1–9 p.m. There’s no food yet, but you can bring your own or hit up a food truck outside regularly. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever met a more welcoming staff, and we shared stories and laughed throughout the night. I don’t want to ruin the surprise element of how great this production tasting room really is visually, so just know it’s impressive enough for a date and the perfect spot for warming up this winter with friends in a classy beer environment. You will be in awe to say the very least! Here are some beers to toast the good times and to roast the bad times—truly a new beer oasis that I had to rub my eyes and see to believe. Great beer, music and merriment all wrapped up into one new refined location!

  • Ornithology 3.9%: The standard here for a first-timer and a yeasty upgrade of their original Ornette offering I’ve enjoyed in Shaw for years, this light, bright, session-like wheat beer is more complex than you’d think, fermented with wild yeast in French oak foudres in the new tasting room. Rating: Foudres-tastic!
  • Raised By Wolves 5%: An aromatic pale ale dry hopped for a dry but juicy and fruity citrus taste. My personal go to at Right Proper as a hop head in 2016. Rating: Raise the woof!
  • Haxan 7%: If you’re looking for something more malty and sweet with a kick, try this Baltic leaning porter. Roasted Chocolate notes dominate this semi-booze bomb, as it’s definitely a more delicious and improved offering than the original recipe I had at Brew at the Zoo many years ago before they opened. Rating: They improved the un-improvable. Fantastic.
  • Baron Corvo 7%: A slightly strong farmhouse ale fermented in those fantastic French oak foudres again, this yeast driven beauty is for the more refined beer drinker with a wine-like oaky profile that has hints of fruit and spice. The yeast dominates in very good way. Rating: Beast of the yeast!

Have a beer for the Bierdo to try? Drop him a line at [email protected]

Photo: Nick Hardt

Brewer’s Ball
Photo: On Tap Magazine

DC Brewer’s Ball Serving Up Hope One Pint at a Time

For over a decade, the metropolitan Washington, DC chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation has been serving up hope, one pint at a time. The gala event returns for its 12th year on March 5 at the National Building Museum, and this year promises to be the best and biggest edition yet. Tickets are on sale now and cost $140, of which $70 is tax-deductible.

The 12th Annual Beer Institute’s Brewer’s Ball presented by matchboxfoodgroup and Anheuser-Busch will continue to feature more than 30 of the very best local and regional craft breweries, as well as some national players. Beyond the beers, over 25 great restaurants will keeps attendees well-fed while local band the VIPs keep the crowd moving with live music and dancing.

“Brewer’s Ball is a highlight annually for those that love great beers and better causes,” says Dennis O’Leary, one of three co-chairs of the committee that coordinates Brewer’s Ball each year. O’Leary’s desire to help find a cure for CF is deeply personal; his son, Casey, was born with the disease. “This event raises funds that have contributed greatly toward research for new treatments, programs, and care for those with CF.”

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic, life-threatening disease that affects about 30,000 people in the United States. Approximately 10 million additional people are carriers of the gene that causes CF. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs, which clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure.

A few decades ago, most people with CF didn’t live long enough to attend elementary school. Through the efforts of the CF Foundation, the life expectancy of a person with CF has doubled in the last 30 years. Today, many people with CF are living into their thirties, fourties, and beyond. Recent drug discovery and development programs have yielded drugs that have changed the course of CF. For the first time, two FDA-approved therapies (Kalydeco and Orkambi) treat not just the symptoms of the disease ,but the underlying genetic defect for a small percentage of the population. Recent research shows great potential for additional treatments that will similarly affect a larger percentage of people with CF. Although great progress has been made, there’s still a lot of work to do to put a cure in the hands of every person with CF.

Brewer’s Ball has grown immensely along with the DC area’s craft beer scene. When the event started, there were no production breweries in DC or Northern Virginia. Now, over a decade later, local favorites like DC Brau, Port City, Flying Dog, and Hellbender will rub elbows with nationally renowned brands like Dogfish Head, Allagash, and New Belgium. In fact, the folks from two local breweries, Adroit Theory and Belly Love Brewing Company, came together earlier this month to make a special collaboration brew, which will be served exclusively at Brewer’s Ball. Named Brooke’s Currant Obsession, this brew honors 15-month old Brooke who lives with CF, and is the daughter of one of the Brewer’s Ball committee members.

The event, which has become well-liked among breweries as well, allows for attendees to chat with brewery representatives, giving lovers of fine ales and lagers plenty of chances to ask questions and find out more about their favorite suds. (Don’t worry, wine and cider fans, there’s something here for you, too.) Area restaurants like Ted’s Bulletin, Hill Country Barbecue Market, Matchbox, and Charlie Palmer Steak DC pull out the culinary stops, often pairing their dishes with the breweries at the event.

Once the well-dressed attendees are fed and watered (or beered, as the case may be), they can bid on a number of intriguing silent auction items ranging from brewery tours to weekend getaways to themed baskets. Using their mobile phones, guests can conveniently check back periodically to make sure they haven’t been outbid on that bourbon basket they’re itching to bring home. During the live auction, guests go head-to-head for one-of-a-kind experiences such as a “custom cask build experience” at Heavy Seas Beer, where the lucky winner will craft their own special firkin of beer; a trip to Hollywood to see The Ellen DeGeneres Show, or a week-long trip to Palm Springs.

Brewer’s Ball, which raised $380,000 last year, has grown from more modest roots —it raised $40,000 in its first year. With the help of the local craft beer community, area restaurants, attendees, and sponsors who have a great time while contributing to a great cause, the event will hopefully grow even more this year as it taps into the continued push for a cure.

DC Brewer’s Ball: March 5, 2016 at the National Building Museum. 401 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001; www.dcbrewersball.org for tickets and information.

Photo: On Tap Magazine

best local beer dc

10 Best Local Beers of 2015

2015 was a big year for beer in DC. Right Proper built a new production facility in Brookland, DC Brau started burst distributing in Massachusetts, and several new breweries opened their doors in the DMV including 7 Locks, Fair Winds and Ocelot. It was also a great year for delicious new brews and reimagined classics. Here are On Tap’s best ten local beers of 2015.

Ghost White IPA
3 Stars Brewing Company
Style: White IPA  |  ABV: 5.90%  |  IBU: N/A
In 2015, 3 Stars started offering some of their classic brews in cans, like the Ghost White IPA, now available in a 16-ounce tallboy. The well-carbonated white IPA pours a bright orange color with light citrus and earthy hop aromas. Mild grapefruit flavors mix with bright lemongrass notes to create a beautifully balanced and sessionable IPA.
3 Stars Brewing Company: 6400 Chillum Pl. NW, DC;  www.3starsbrewing.com

Ponzi
Atlas Brew Works
Style: American IPA  |  ABV: 7.30%  |  IBU: 62
Last year Atlas Brew Works debuted their new American IPA hopped with cascade, Chinook and mandarina hops. Munich malt creates a medium body and highlights the light tropical fruit and grassy flavors. Ponzi is named after infamous con artist Charles Ponzi for its deceptively high alcohol content.
Atlas Brew Works: 2052 West Virginia Ave. #102 NE, DC;  www.atlasbrewworks.com

Sorry Chicky
Burley Oak Brewing Company
Style: Berliner Weisse  |  ABV: 4.4%  |  IBU: 4
2015 saw an increase in demand for quality sour beers and Burley Oak’s canned offering is no exception. Sorry Chicky is a tart Berliner Weisse with a funky peach and citrus aroma. Lightly carbonated and slightly sweet with a crisp finish, Chicky is the perfect session beer for sour enthusiasts.

Brau Pils
DC Brau
Style: German Pilsner  |  ABV: 4.6%  |  IBU: 28
DC Brau added a classic German Pilsner to complement the brewery’s impressive arsenal of canned beers. The crisp lager style is light-bodied with spicy hop character from the German Hallertau hops. Brau Pils has a rich, bready start with a clean, malty finish and is perfect for camping, grilling, or tailgating.
DC Brau: B 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC;  www.dcbrau.com

Siren’s Lure
Fair Winds Brewing Company
Style: Farmhouse Saison  |  ABV: 7.2%  |  IBU: 32
One of Virginia’s newest breweries has already taken home a gold medal from the 2015 GABF for Siren’s Lure. This hop-forward saison is dry hopped with citra and German Blanc hops to compliment its wheat and Vienna malt body. Brewed with French farmhouse yeast, Siren’s Lure has a subtle funk and lemongrass flavor. It is not to be missed.
Fair Winds Brewing Company: Suite K and L, 7000 Newington Rd. Lorton, VA; www.fairwindsbrewing.com

Bourbon Barrel  Gingerbread Stout 2015
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Style: Barrel-Aged Stout  |  ABV: 10.6%  |  IBU: 55
Hardywood’s 2015 version of their barrel-aged gingerbread stout is truly “Christmas in a bottle.” Brewed with vanilla beans, cinnamon, Casselmonte Farm baby ginger, and Bearer Farms wildflower honey and then matured for 12 months in Virginia bourbon barrels, it is both smooth and complex.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery: 2408-2410 Ownby Ln. Richmond, VA; www.hardywood.com

California Stars
Ocelot Brewing Company
Style: American IPA  |  ABV: 6.8%  |  IBU: 60
The brand new Ocelot Brewing Company draws inspiration from music; the brewery takes its name from a popular Phish song. Their American IPA, California Stars, is yellow in color with a subtle bitterness from grapefruit, tropical fruit, and grassy hop flavoring. It is reasonably boozy with a dry finish, making it a success among fans of higher-gravity hoppy beers.
Ocelot Brewing Company: 23600 Overland Dr. #180, Dulles, VA; www.ocelotbrewing.com

Derecho Common
Port City Brewing Company
Style: California Common  |  ABV: 4.8%  |  IBU: 43
In summer 2012, the Derecho storm left millions of DC area residents without power, including Port City Brewing Company. The power outage made it difficult for the brewers to control the temperature of fermentation, which resulted in Derecho Common, a California steam beer. Slight hops and bready malt make this beer a delicious tribute to the notorious storm.
Port City Brewing Company: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

Check Point
RaR (Realalerevival) Brewing
Style: American Pale Ale  |  ABV: 4.4%  |  IBU: n/a
Located on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, RaR Brewing is doing their part to make delicious American cask ales. Check Point is a session pale ale that pours a bright straw color. It has tropical fruit and light citrus hop flavors that taste wonderful in cask form. It is worth the short trip to the brewery since RaR beers are difficult to find in DC.
RaR (Realalerevival) Brewing: 504 Poplar St. Cambridge, MD;  www.rarbrewing.com

Diamonds, Fur Coat,  Champagne
Right Proper Brewing Company
Style: Berliner Weisse  |  ABV: 3.6%  |  IBU: n/a
Right Proper’s hugely popular Berliner Weisse is named after track one of the 1980 album “Suicide: Alan Vega and Martin Rev” by American electronic duo Suicide. The moderately sour beer aims to mimic champagne with a similar appearance and effervescence. Hints of lemon citrus in the nose combine with elderflower, grapefruit zest, and Hallertau Blanc hops to create a truly memorable brew.
Right Proper Brewing Company: 624 T St. NW, DC;  www.rightproperbrewing.com

best bartenders dc

5 Innovative Bartenders of 2015

Sophie Szych of Quill at The Jefferson Hotel
On Tap: What was the top cocktail from Quill in 2015? 
Sophie Szych: There were a couple. I like to use ginger, but make it seasonal. So for summer I had a hibiscus ginger soda and a rum cocktail with hibiscus and ginger. Then for fall, I did a play off a Moscow mule that was Concord grape and ginger soda that actually worked out super well and was absolutely delicious. We have one on the menu right now, a gin mule, with a ginger soda we make with a toasted cardamom pod and pineapple as well.

OT: Aside from the clear ginger, what were some of your favorite ingredients you used in 2015?
SS: I liked using a sweetener for cocktails that wasn’t just sugar. I loved using maple syrup and made maple water for a tonic base earlier this year that worked out really well. Honey is great, but I wanted to try something a little different. So, I burnt the honey and made a burnt honey syrup, which added more complexity and bitterness than just honey.

OT: Any resolution for 2016?
SS: Honest to god I’ve had the same one for two years now and that’s to finally do Beasty Boys for karaoke.

OT: What song?
SS: Intergalactic. I really want to do that. I practice in the mirror and it’s so terrible. I have yet to unleash it on the world, which is a good thing. But, I’m keeping that resolution.

OT: Something you’re looking forward to this year?
SS: Portland cocktail week. They are doing it in different cities now and I know they are doing one in Baltimore.  I’ve never gone to Portland cocktail week and I’m interested in this format. The DC Rickey competition. I will probably try to do it again this year. The DC Bartenders Guild is really coming up with some awesome events.

OT: Nice, any other events you can tell us about? 
SS: They have one called the DC Cocktail Queen Competition for female bartenders coming up in a few months and we have some pretty badass cocktail females in the city, so it will be fun to go up against those ladies.

Quill at The Jefferson Hotel: 1200 16th St. NW, DC; 202-448-2300;www.jeffersondc.com

Lukas B. Smith of Dram & Grain
On Tap: What cocktail or ingredient combination best describes your 2015?
Lukas B. Smith: It’s difficult because at this bar we have done a new menu every week. That’s six new cocktails every week.  If you do the math it’s almost 250 cocktails last year. So it’s tough. But, it was a really good year; lots of accolades, so I’d probably say my cocktail would be a nice tall glass of Pappy 23.

OT: What are some favorite ingredients that you’ve used in the past year?
LS: The one that got us thinking more ambitiously about ingredients shows up in the Double Dragon cocktail, it’s a bone washed Cynar and Becherovka bitters. Cynar is a famous Italian liqueur, Becherovka is sort of grown up Fireball. We vacuum seal a smoked turkey leg, cook it at 60 degrees Celsius for 24 hour to break down all the connective tissue and wash out all the marrow, then we freeze it, wash all the fat off and get this finish that we are extending in a really incredible way. It’s not a common practice.

OT: What is something that you are looking forward to this year? 
LS:  My friend Chas Jefferson and I are launching Cotton and Reed in Union Market. He’s the head distiller, and I’m the assistant distiller.  We are hopefully opening in March, with a tasting room. So the two most important things for me are going to be that and the expansion of the Order of the Monkey, which includes Secret Monkey Social Club and Tiki Monkey.

OT: Do explain Secret Monkey Social Club for those that may not know…
LS: Secret Monkey Social Club is a punch club and cabaret. We have live music and I try to get the best people in town, to make punch with me. It’s the fastest, best punch service and I think probably the most exciting way to enjoy cocktails in a live music setting. We had that at the Dolcezza Factory, but are moving out of that this year. Tiki Monkey was the last one we had. We are having a Chinese New Year Party on February 8, location TBD. We will do a Cinco de Mono party, since mono means monkey in Spanish. I’m really looking forward to the expansion of the Order of the Monkey because we’ve kept it tucked away and I’m ready to take it center stage.

Dram & Grain: 2007 18th St. NW, DC; text 202-607-1572 for reservations

Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen
On Tap: If you could describe 2015 as a cocktail, what would it be?
Gina Chersevani: Super effervescent and bubbly, because I gave birth to my Francesca, who is wonderful, it would have a little bit of bitterness, just because a couple of months were a little bit hard, and then it would have a really solid, almost sweet finish, with a little bit of flower to it, like a lavender.

OT: What ingredient did you fall in love with in 2015?
GC: I re-fell in love with persimmons. I really got into hanging persimmons to get their natural essence. It coagulates the fruit, so it makes its own syrup with no sugar or anything added. And that essence is what I forgot that I love the most. It wasn’t the boiling and making and adding the vinegars, it was the pure beauty of what the fruit can do on its own.

OT: Any mixology resolutions for 2016?
GC: My resolution for my bars in general is to pay attention more to the ingredients and not so much to the rule.

OT: I feel like you do that though…
GC: I do, but now my focus is stronger. I’m doing an “Under Pressure,” Queen and David Bowie menu that’s going to be my cocktail list for this year. Every single line of the lyrics will be in there and while the chorus repeats, the cocktails won’t repeat. The ingredient might stay the same but we highlight it in a different way. So, when I say staying true to the ingredient, that’s what I mean.

OT: Wow that sounds intense.
GC: This menu in particular is definitely very stressful, because if you’ve ever read the lyrics, they are very similar over and over, so it will be amazing to see, for example, what does adding cognac and deleting whiskey really change? How much can that change when making everything else the same?

OT: I need to go listen to this song after this interview…
GC: I love this song, and the a cappella version is really inspiring. Unfortunately both men are deceased but it’s really a true testament to time that two people can be gone and still be so relevant in the world of music. It mimics what bars are. Cocktails have been around for centuries, we are still making what was once somebody’s creation. Somebody came up with an old fashioned, somebody came up with a gimlet, and they are still being made and tweaked. There’s a real testament to artistry there.

Buffalo & Bergen: Union Market; 1309 5th St. NE, DC; 202-543-2549;www.buffalobergendc.com

Jo-Jo Valenzuela – VP of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild and  Beverage Consultant
On Tap: Favorite cocktail of 2015?
Jo-Jo Valenzuela: Well clearly the Rizal. Whiskeys are definitely the most challenging thing. People are finally falling in love with them, but it’s still pretty tough and not a whole lot of people are well versed on how they can use whiskey. Mezcal at one point was big, but it’s so seasonal. Whiskey just took over the spirits.

OT: What was a favorite ingredient you used last year, something outside the box?
JV: I started using oysters as a garnish. “Oyster Can You See,” is the drink and it’s gin-based with a white pepper syrup, fresh lemon juice and a little bit of absinth, garnished with an oyster.

OT: Jo-Jo’s ultimate cocktail moment of 2015 was…
JV: Definitely winning Rickey of the year and the Margarita Wars. That was definitely a defining moment for me.

OT: Anything you want to focus on more in 2016?
JV: Definitely want to focus on the garnish game. In competitions it’s starting to show when someone comes up with a new garnish that has never been seen before. As far as bar techniques, probably throwing and working flair.

OT: Something you are really looking forward to this year?
JV: I want to open my own bar. I’ve wanted to for a while and now it just totally makes sense.

OT: Predict the cocktail trends for 2016…

JV: I think people are going to be more innovative in different presentations. I’ve been going in that direction myself. In food, before it even hits tables or bars, people say “can I have one of those.”  I am going for the same thing when it comes to cocktails.

Justin Hampton of Poste Moderne Brasserie
On Tap: What were the DC area cocktail trends you saw in 2015?
Justin Hampton: I saw low alcohol by volume (ABV) beers popping up everywhere, particularly Stiegl-Radler Grapefruit, which is a grapefruit juice and beer combination with a super low ABV. Another trend was the use of shrubs. It’s been around since the colonial period, but I noticed this year, especially in DC, a lot of people using them. For example, at this year’s DC Rickey competition, you saw at least three entries that had a shrub as their acid source, instead of lemon or lime and I thought that was cool.

OT: What was your 2015 cocktail moment?
JH: My general manager surprised me and rented a slushy machine to play around with. At first, I was apprehensive and it came with high fructose corn syrup margarita mix and I thought this is horrible. But the first thing I tried putting through it was our Poste signature basil lemontini and it came out so good! It was an ah-ha moment that slushies could actually be really well done. I did a frozen Negroni for Negroni week and that came out amazingly well. Now I want a slushy machine behind the bar.

OT: That sounds delicious. Any other big moments?
JH: At this year’s DC Rickey competition, when Jo-Jo Valenzuela won. What stood out to me was when they announced him the winner, he cried, and I thought that was a special moment for the bartenders in the room and showed the passion and drive. It really showed how much it means to all of us to be in the industry and win these local events.

OT: Ingredients you really enjoyed using in 2015?
JH: Vinegar. I started making my own shrubs, made one or two in the past without success and when I got to Poste, I was determined to make something good and I knocked it out of the park on the first one I made here and I’ve been making them seasonably ever since. I think I’ll use vinegar for rest of my life.

OT:  Two ingredients you want to work with in 2016?

JH: I want to make my own vinegar. I’m interested in preservation techniques. At work we have a dehydrator so I sliced up a lot of pears and used dehydrated slices as a garnish. I also made dehydrated peppers and was able to use them in ingredients, including my own pepper flakes. Pickling and jamming I’ve done before but I am really eager to keep that going. I don’t necessarily want to use one ingredient, I want to preserve everything.

OT: So if the apocalypse happens, we should really come find you with the preserved foods? 
JH: I’ve been really interested in preserving foods. Honey is a good ingredient I’ve been thinking of using too. Honeycomb has antimicrobial benefits, it’s healthy, a good substitute for sugar and it preserves. They found it in a clay pot thousands of years old! Keep your eye out for my beehive. I’m not joking, I want to try it on the Poste roof.

Poste Moderne Brasserie: 555 8th St. NW, DC; 202-783-6060; www.postebrasserie.com

Top 20 New Bars and Restaurants dc
Photo: Masseria Linguine by Scott-Suchman

Top 20 New Bars and Restaurants

On the DC restaurant scene, 2015 was the Year of Hype. Celebrity chefs! Crowdfunding! Glamorous dining rooms! In some cases, the hype was undercut with food poisoning. In others, the wild excess of expectations made perfectly good restaurants seem like let-downs. Only a few weathered the storms of confetti and hysteria to emerge with their dignity entirely intact.

When the confetti cleared, the biggest trend of the year wasn’t even edible – it was crowdfunding. Whether to launch a concept or bolster a rapidly shrinking construction budget, restauranteurs turned en masse to small investors to get the show on the road.

In fact, none of the most interesting restaurant trends in 2015 is about food. Everyone knows veg are trendy. Everyone knows kimchi is hot. But what about the remarkably transformative effects of a good restaurant? Whether it was Nido putting still-underserved Woodbridge on the map, or Earls Kitchen + Bar redefining our expectations about chains, restaurants transcended their fork-to-mouth influence and solidified their status as economic engines, aesthetic tastemakers, and culture shifters.

And finally, 2015 was a year of angles – everyone had their take on a niche detail. Whether it was making vermouth in-house, or identifying a menu of regionally-sourced recipes, DC’s restaurateurs took their creativity down into the details.

Of course ultimately, the question this column wants to answer is this: If you strip away the hype, the crowdfunding excitement, the economic potential, the funny homemade liquor on tap – would you still eat at a white-hot restaurant? If no one had ever tweeted about it, if no one ever instagrammed it, and you didn’t know the mixologist’s name – would you still drink at a trendy bar?

Stripping out those tantalizing nothings, this is my very subjective list – in alphabetical order – of DC’s best openings of 2105.

Bad Saint
See all these lines in DC? Blame Georgetown Cupcake for starting the trend. Now, no restaurant is truly hype-worthy without one. But what’s even more important than a line? A Kickstarter campaign: the intimate, drool-worthy Filipino restaurant got to opening day with the help of 280 backers. Bad Saint survived intense hype and anticipation (ameliorated, perhaps, by the owners’ multiple attempts to lower expectations), and now we’re eagerly learning to pronounce a new menu of amazing foods we barely knew existed before.  Bad Saint: 3226 11th St. NW, DC;www.badsaintdc.com

Bar Civita 
The Woodley Park Metro station hosts one of DC’s few neighborhoods not yet on the foodie scene, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got a lovely table on the terrace and was brought a lovely cocktail. My companion that afternoon, an unpleasant ex, momentarily became a better person under the bar’s spell. Here’s hoping Bar Civita represents transformative times ahead for the entire neighborhood.   Bar Civita: 2609 24th St. NW, DC; 202-588-1211;  www.barcivita.com

Beefsteak 
Jose Andres revealed why he is paid the big bucks when he showed that he can still get out in front of the trends and make them tasty. veg-centric, fast, and casual alluring enough to tempt carnivores? You would have been laughed out of DC a decade ago for suggesting it.  Beefsteak : 22nd and I St. NW, DC; 202-296-1421; www.beefsteakveggies.com

Centrolina
For some understated, salmonella-free glamor, I slip into Centrolina via the market door, peruse pricey shelves, and sometimes actually buy something (a can of San Marzano tomatoes was surprisingly priced on my last visit). Then I settle into a seat at the sleek marble bar for an early happy hour and some antipasti, before the crowds show up, and quietly thank the Qataris for transforming a former DC-NYC bus staging zone into the Beverly Hills of DC.  Centrolina : 974 Palmer Alley, DC; 202-898-2426; www.centrolinadc.com

Chaia
Here’s the latest in restaurant business plans: get into a food incubator (in this case, Union Kitchen’s first class), develop a farmer’s market following that is impossible to satisfy, and when the lines get too ridiculous, commit to a bricks-and-mortar location. Done. Chaia got in the habit of serving over 200 vegetarian tacos an hour at the White House and Dupont farmers markets, and then rode the shoulders of popular opinion (and a few angel funders) to a Georgetown storefront. The hype is real.  Chaia: 3207 Grace St. NW, DC; 202-333-5222; www.chaiadc.com

Earls Kitchen + Bar
Yes, a chain. But this is what successful chains are increasingly going to look like: local control, carefully curated lists of local drinkables, local artists on the walls, nods to local cuisine and demographics (DC’s demographic apparently equals an old fashioned bar), and a core corporate menu, all united under an iron fist of quality control and large portions. Earls Kitchen + Bar: 7902 Tysons One Pl., Tysons, VA; 703-847-1870;www.earls.ca

Garrison
You might remember that nice herb garden at Poste Moderne. Chef Rob Weland planted it, but he has finally opened a place of his own: the veg-loving Garrison. The new herb garden in front is much smaller (and, for now, mostly decorative), but it’s a signature touch that stakes Garrison out as Weland’s own, and says so much about how conscious he is of being part of the entire food cycle.  Garrison: 524 Eighth St. SE, DC; 202-506-2445;  www.garrisondc.com

Maketto
The mixed-use concept that is Maketto is one of the few to completely avoid the devastating after-effects of a much-hyped, over-anticipated opening. A local crowdfunding platform allowed investors in DC and Virginia to become Maketto’s mini-landlords and help pay construction costs, and the bakery (Frenchies) got on its feet with a Kickstarter (200 backers!) Once Maketto opened, the haters were primed to spring, but in the end couldn’t resist the Taiwanese fried chicken, flakey Frenchies croissants, charming courtyard, and sleek aesthetic. The nearly 200 landlord investors rejoiced. The retail sections are absurdly priced – but they’re so absurdly priced that I think most visitors regard them as pop-up art exhibits and laugh indulgently while sipping their delicious cappuccinos.   Maketto: 1351 H St. NE, DC; 202-838-9972; www.maketto1351.com

Masseria
When I inconveniently want to visit home in California, I instead visit Masseria. While it’s officially inspired by southern Italy, the relaxed vibe, expansive terrace (which has its own cigar menu), and the raw materials construction have transformed this still-gritty corner of DC into an escapist dream world straight from a Mediterranean climate. Chef Nick Stefanelli shops for his daily menu at next-door Union Market. If you’re not in the mood for prix fixe, the bar menu will ensure you get your Mediterranean fix.  Masseria: 1340 4th St. NE, DC; 202-608-1330;  www.masseria-dc.com

Nido
You might not know it yet, but snuggled in the shadow of Brookland is Woodbridge, the next hot neighborhood. This is where you will find Chef Aaron Wright (Tabard Inn) dishing up “eclectic Mediterranean” food in a neighborhood joint defined by white brick, natural light, and vermouth.  Nido: 2214 Rhode Island Ave. NE, DC; 202-627-2815;  www.nido-dc.com

Pepita
Mike Isabella expanded his empire in 2015, and seemed bent on taking over Ballston. With Pepita, he stakes his claim via a stunning cocktail menu featuring 50+ beverages (including some excellent non-alcoholic options). Drink here before eating next door at his Kapnos Taverna.  Pepita: 4000 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-312-0200; www.pepitabymic.com

Prequel
Prequel rewrote the DC government’s investment rules, took over the old Living Social space (complete with reinforced flooring for sumo wrestling) on F Street and established a foodie crowd funding institution. Now Washingtonians are treated to a carousel of pop-ups, residencies, and concept tests. The only sad bit is when tenants sprout wings and move on (we still miss Bluebird Bakery, which successfully crowdfunded the next step to its own storefront). But we’re comforted that the upstairs wine bar is a permanent fixture.   Prequel: 918 F St. NW, DC; 202-510-9917; www.prequelrestaurant.com

Provision no. 14
This is a beautiful space, with carefully thought-out details to delight the visually oriented. This has long been one of my snotty grudges against restaurants: the dining room phalanx of boring tables and chairs is straight-up depressing. But 2015 saw a transformative blossoming of interior design eye candy across DC’s restaurant scene Provision 14 gets top spot because the food is also creative, the cocktails (while pricey) are both adorable and delicious, and you won’t get salmonella.  Provision No. 14:2100 14th St. NW, DC; 202-827-4530;  www.provisiondc.com

SER
The path to opening SER was anything but “Simple, Easy, Real,” the restaurant’s acronym. After winning Ballston BID’s strangely run Restaurant Challenge – which came with free rent in a difficult-to-fill location and a quarter-million-dollar, interest-free loan – owners Javier and Christiana Candon still found themselves over budget…and turned to Kickstarter. Queue happy endings all around. SER now introduces diners to the wealth of delicious Spanish cuisine beyond tapas and sangria. And that difficult-to-fill, slightly out-of-the-way location? Crowdfunding all but ensures a base cliental of their 76 Kickstarter supporters.  SER: 1110 N. Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA; 703-746-9822; www.ser-restaurant.com

Stanton & Greene
Stanton & Greene was a stark transformation from its predecessor, Pour House. And as that dimly-lit, Steelers-centric, beer-pong’ing watering hole once symbolized everything about the neighborhood (and our tastes, a decade ago), so does Stanton & Greene now. The new owners restored as much of the building as possible, including the original patterned tin ceiling (I could stare for hours), stripped black paint off the windows, and brought in Erik Holzherr (Wisdom) to create a solid list of signature cocktails.  Stanton & Greene : 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC; 202-555-1212;www.stantonandgreene.com

The Dabney
Virginia boy Jeremiah Langhorne made his name in Charleston at the acclaimed McCrady’s, but now he’s come home to open his own restaurant. The Dabney doesn’t just do local sourcing – they do local ingredients. What this means in practice is sunchoke soup, sweet potato rolls stuffed with crispy pork belly, and celery ice cream on peanut butter cake. Langhorne has done his research to find true “mid-Atlantic cuisine.”   The Dabney : 122 Blagden Alley NW, DC; 202-450-1015; www.thedabney.com

The Riggsby
Boston super-chef Michael Schlow (Tico) opened his second DC restaurant, where he whimsically invokes old Hollywood. The restaurant’s “Cocktail Party” happy hour features a “Nick and Nora Martini” and deviled eggs, while Restaurant Week will feature a “Three-Martini Lunch” where each course has a martini as an option. These are the kinds of details we love.  The Riggsby (in the Carlyle Hotel): 1731 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC; 202-234-3200; www.theriggsby.com

The Royal 
Paul Carlson (Vinoteca) opened his Colombian-inflected project with little fanfare, but it has quickly become an industry favorite. What first caught my attention was the homemade vermouth on tap. If you’ve only ever had rail vermouth, then your life is incomplete. Then I noticed more details: pews from a North Carolina church, an antique fire extinguisher converted to a cocktail tap, the vintage sign that gives the joint its name. Oh, and the hours – The Royal is open 7-1a.m. daily and 2a.m. Friday and Saturday.  The Royal: 501 Florida Ave. NW, DC; 202-332-7777; www.theroyaldc.com

Villain & Saint
Hype is part of the business model at Villain & Saint, since it also doubles as a 150-person music venue. Robert Wiedmaier (Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck) branched out to blend his talent for food with his passion for music. Villain & Saint features a psychedelic rock and roll vibe, complete with lava lamps and band paraphernalia. Wiedmaier helps vet acts, and the kitchen reflects the high standards he’s known for, resulting in a rare venue that multitasks well.   Villain & Saint: 7141 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD; 240-800-4700; www.villainandsaint.com

Yona
Mike Isabella’s other new Ballston restaurant opened in 2015 was Yona, a place from which partner and chef Jonah Kim (PABU Baltimore) could enter the local Raman wars. But where Yona really shines is with the Korean-inflected small plates menu. Isabella has now brought Ballston three very different restaurants, and has almost single-handedly shifted the neighborhood’s culinary balance away from burgers and slices – does this make him mayor yet?  Yona: 4000 Wilson Blvd Suite C, Arlington, VA (entrance on N. Quincy Street); 202-234-5000; www.yonava.com

Photo: Masseria Linguine by Scott-Suchman

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