New District Brewing & Vanish Farm Brewery

New District Brewing & Vanish Farm Brewery

While you may find yourself “green” on the couch from too much Jameson or in full body paint for your team this March, may I suggest a better way to spend your weekends getting in the spirit of the season?  How about some new and great local beer?  Yes, instead of painting, drinking or literally turning green this March, why don’t we make your beer buddies “green” with envy? Grab a pen, plot the course on your GPS and head to Virginia for two (TWO, Johnny Utah!) new breweries that should be on your radar.

“Just tell your girlfriend you’re going out to walk the dog…and then walk your butt to the damn brewery.”  – Roommate wisdom  

New District in Shirlington is a labor of love from some local ex-rock ‘n’ rollers who had a dream of putting down the drumsticks and starting their own brewery, but did so at an unbelievable, under $350K budget with the help of many, many friends and their engineering degrees. These dudes literally MacGyvered their own equipment and entire build-out on a shoestring budget to create a small up-and-coming brewery with, dare I say, Arlington’s first walk-up growler fill-up window.

While it’s only open on Saturdays, once they expand their capacity, you can expect some additional hours for enjoying their great brews, tunes and food trucks. Or bring your dog since the Shirlington Dog Park is nearby and grab a beer without the usual scolding from your partner about day drinking on a Saturday – because let’s face it, that’s why God invented Saturdays and your boss gave you off, isn’t it? It’s the American thing to do. Drink these for America.

1821 Belgian-style Saison 5.5 percent: Crisp and easy to drink, this floury,  biscuity craft homage to your favorite glass of Stella Artois – only local, better and more crafty.
Rating: Just “sais” yes.

1821 Black Lager, 8.5 percent: Easily my favorite, this malty, easy drinking lager improves on the Greek family recipe with a special mystery ingredient that I still haven’t guessed yet. No worries, however, as it has a slight licorice/anisette-type dark lager feel with a bitter ending that’s delish. Rating: Smash a lager, not a plate. Yamas!

*Looking for something drinkable for the beer nube? Also try the bitter but drinkable Kolsch or the light cocoa nib First Time stout.  I will always remember my first time well. Thanks Katrivanos family!

Still need to walk “the dog” a little further? Try a new farm brewery like the epic Vanish in Lucketts, Va. Owner Jonathan Staples originally bought the farm to grow hops for his spirits at James River Distillery in Richmond. However, his friends at Flying Dog Brewing planted the brewery idea in his head (which he continued with alone after the partnership idea disintegrated), and so his rustic and historic Virginia farmland became the site and supplier for Vanish beer.

Here you’ll find an immaculate, 200+ seated tasting room and hop farming facility with a satellite kitchen for weekend BBQ, tasters around $2 and $4 to $5 pints. Plus, an outside biergarten is in the works for the warmer weather. I’d talk more about all the cool farming and local ingredient sourcing, but I’m going to let the owner’s knowledgeable staff regale you with that. I’ll just do the drinking, thank you very much!

Session IPA, 4.5 percent: One-of-a-kind flavor from rye malt and “Brett” yeast, and dry-hopped with Chinook and East Kent Golding. Citrus and dry, earthy tones. Very flavorful/drinkable. Rating: Hands down, you’ll like this beer. If not, replace your tongue (it’s broken), and repeat.

Double IPA, 8.5 percent: Imagine a lighter 75 IBU version of the Heavy Sea’s Double Cannon. Is that possible? Yes it is.  Dry-hopped with slight  tangerine  fringe
and ever so slight dry  bitterness.  It’s  hop   heavy without weighing down your taste buds.  Rating: Double the booze, singular light flavor.

Abbey Dubbel Ale, 7.2 percent: Prunes and raisins dominate the palate with a clean, full-bodied ale that warmed my ruddy facade. Perfect fit for the wet and cold weather. Rating: Plums up!

Sahti (unfinished at 8 percent): Coming soon and amazing. Juniper sourced from the farm, seeds of paradise and hops make this Finnish-style fermented ale just pop on my taste buds.  Rating: The best and most unique thing I’ve tasted in the DC area in months – just amazing!

*Need something more approachable for a beer newbie? The Brown and Oatmeal pale ales are decent, too.

NEW DISTRICT BREWING COMPANY: 2709 S Oakland St. Arlington, VA; 703-888-5820;  

VANISH FARM BREWERY: 42264 Leelynn Farm Ln. Leesburg, VA; 301-471-6015; 

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

new dining march

New Notable No Longer March 2016

Why: Korean food has moved from “trendy”’ to “staple”
Bibim was opened by a restaurant industry veteran so she wouldn’t have to drive to Annandale for good Korean food. The scallion pancakes are still a work in progress, but the homemade kimchi is on point.  BIBIM: 923 Sligo Ave. Silver Spring, MD; 301-565-2233;

Why: From sleek to splinters
Paul Bunyan meets Elvis in Oya Restaurant & Lounge’s makeover into a posh log cabin with electric purple carpets. The menu is New American (a.k.a. whatever the chef feels like making) and the cocktails are solid. We particularly love brunch, when we can order the $40 bourbon punch bowl (#SquadGoal: this bowl holds 15 glasses).  BOE:777 9th St. NW, DC; 202-393-1400;

Why: George Washington might have slept here
Colonial architecture meets New American cuisine at this first restaurant from local catering company The Joy of Eating. When daylight lasts longer (to better appreciate the view of the Potomac), this will be the place to take visiting parents – who will also, hopefully, foot the bill.  CEDAR KNOLL RESTAURANT: 9030 Lucia Ln. Fort Hunt, VA; 703-780-3665;

Why: Suspenders are back
The Columbia Room was one of DC’s first speakeasies, and the city’s drinkers collectively cursed the redevelopment that led to its closing. Now, however, we can rejoice at its reincarnation as a larger, multifaceted drink destination in ultra-trendy Blagden Alley. Details add up – spring water is sourced from spirits producing regions like Kentucky and Scotland – but as before, it’s worth the splurge.  COLUMBIA ROOM:124 Blagden Alley, NW, DC; 202-316-9396;

Why: The Cheesecake Factory meets wine tasting
This Illinois chain produces its own wine from a mix of grapes from around the world; their best seller is their almond sparkling wine, and their wine club has 160,000 members, making it the largest in the country. The idea of combining a full-service restaurant with a vineyard tasting room is surprisingly rare, and Cooper’s Hawk swoops in with a long New American menu to fill the void.  COOPER’S HAWK WINERY: 19870 Belmont Chase Dr. Ashburn, VA; 703-840-0999;

Why: Because every cocktail menu should have a $100 drink
The Left Door offers a short and stellar cocktail menu in an intimate space from cocktail god Tom Brown (Hogo, and brother of Derek). Go.  THE LEFT DOOR: 1345 S St. NW, DC; 202-734-8576;

Why: Think tank reception food
Hummus is a food group for Washington’s young professionals – but Little Sesame (from the DGS Delicatessen team upstairs) is Raman to your think tank’s Cup O’ Noodles. Hummus serves as the base for a variety of composed meals – the roasted beets are particularly popular.  LITTLE SESAME: 1306 18th St. NW, DC; 202-463-2104;

Why: Let’s get pisco’d
We were sad there was no cuy – a Peruvian delicacy of fried/roasted guinea pig – on the menu at this restaurant (with small influences from Japanese settlers), but the creative range of strong pisco cocktails cheered us up. We loved the super-rich Mochica Leche (pisco, carob syrup, evaporated milk, conceded milk and egg yolk). NAZCA MOCHICA: 633 P St. NW, DC; 202-733-3170;

Why: Ye Olde Worlde experience
This cheerful, local chain features an extensive menu of “tavern fare” (think fish and chips and shepherd’s pie). With footie (a.k.a. soccer) on the telly, you might consider this a kind of staycation.  PARK LANE TAVERN: 3227 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-465-2337;

Why: Eden Center needs the competition
Customize your order via iPad kiosk at this Vietnamese fast-casual; the winner on the menu is the banh mi.  ROLLPLAY: 8150 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA; 703-891-5595;

Why: The bus to NYC takes too long
Public House Collective opens its first cocktail bar outside of Manhattan. This intimate, high-ceilinged ode to libations is a transplant we welcome without hesitation. QUARTER + GLORY: 2017 14th St. NW, DC; 202-450-5757;

Why: Mainstream Korean
Fast, casual Korean comfort food à la Chipotle, fun bevvies (yogurt-soju cocktail on tap!) and the owner is also the National Symphony Orchestra’s Acting Principal Percussion Chair.  SEOULSPICE: 145 N St. NE, DC;

Why: Strong cocktails and red meat
This family-owned business is a great addition to Wheaton. And they’re luring the brunch crowd with their $22 “Hair of the Dog” all-you-can-eat brunch buffet, which includes three bloodies or mimosas. The Red Line is for pre-gaming, right?  SQUIRE’S ROCK CREEK CHOPHOUSE: 2405 Price Ave. Silver Spring, MD; 301-933-8616;

Why: “Tail up goat, tail down sheep”
Learn to tell your animals apart at this buzzy Mediterranean in AdMo from Komi alumni.  TAIL UP GOAT: 1827 Adams Mill Rd. NW, DC; 202-986-9600;

Why: The Ghostwood Development, with Jensen Old Tom gin, sapin liquer, Salmiakki Dala Fernet, port, whole egg  and savory spices
From the folks behind Hank’s Oyster Bar comes this mellow libation destination in Petworth where you can actually have a conversation without shouting.  TWISTED HORN: 819 Upshur St. NW, DC; 202-290-1808;

Why: Iconic, almost
Whisky Magazine shortlisted Catoctin for three of their Icons of Whisky awards (including Master Distiller of the Year for cofounder Becky Harris!) Next year, they’re a sure thing.  CATOCTIN CREEK DISTILLING COMPANY: 120 West Main St. Purcellville, VA; 540-751-8404;

Why: A phoenix
Congrats to neighborhood fave Kefa Café for getting back on its feet and reopening after a devastating fire.  KEFA CAFÉ: 963 Bonifant St. Silver Spring, MD; 301-589-9337;

Why: A winner
KO Distilling took home the award for “Virginia Moonshine Distillery of the Year” at the sixth annual New York International Spirits Competition.  KO DISTILLING: 10381 Central Park Dr. Manassas, VA; 571-292-1115;


  • Crios Modern Mexican
  • Posto
  • Rogue 25

Shirlington is abuzz thanks to Palette 22, a creative space for enjoying street food-inspired cuisine while also checking out the eclectic works of local artists. The coolest part? Two of the artists-in-residence will always be working in the restaurant during lunch and dinner, so you can sneak a peek at their latest masterpieces and chat them up. Four murals by local street artists, including one by Aniekan Udofia – best known for his portrait of Chuck Brown, Bill Cosby, President Obama and Donnie Simpson on the side of Ben’s Chili Bowl – also cover the Arlington eatery’s walls.

Palette 22’s Arts Director, Cara Rose Leepson, says, “Art is unavoidable in this place. It’s going to be talked about, whether [people] like it or they don’t. If they’re having some kind of reaction, in my mind that makes it successful artwork.”

Graham Duncan, the Corporate Executive Chef for Alexandria Restaurant Partners (Palette 22 is the newest member), put together the globally-inspired street food and small plates menu, describing his creations as “accessible and bright, with punctuated flavors.” Each dish comes out of the open-display kitchen’s huge 900-degree oven in a matter of minutes. Duncan’s faves include the fried watermelon and Halloumi (also our top pick thus far) and vegan ceviche.  PALETTE 22: 4053 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; 703-746-9007;

bartenders dc

Behind the Bar Hip Hotel Bars

ANDREA TATEOSIAN Urbana at Hotel Palomar
New England native Andrea Tateosian first began bartending in college, but it wasn’t until she moved to the DC area that she fell in love with everything behind the bar. She worked at the Gibson for four years – while also juggling a 9 to 5 – and considered the bartending gig more of a hobby where she could learn about the history of cocktails, explore the different spirits available to her and learn the art of hospitality.  For the past year, she’s been striking the perfect balance between craft cocktail knowledge and quality guest experience at Dupont Circle’s Urbana, a contemporary Italian restaurant within Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar.

On Tap: Do you have any tips for those of us with limited craft cocktail knowledge about ordering drinks at speakeasy-style locations? 
Andrea Tateosian: Don’t be intimidated by arm garters and man buns and twirly moustaches. The bartender is there to take care of you. I don’t care how much they know about craft spirits. If they want to make their guests feel inferior, they’re not a good bartender. There’s a backlash in the bartending community against the snobby mixologist trope. It’s overdone, and it’s not fun for anyone. I think bartenders now are more focused than ever on having a well-rounded culture of knowledge, great ingredients and quality of experience.

OT: What’s your process for selecting the seasonal lineup on the cocktail menu?
AT: It’s really important to me to have a focused menu each season so that everything works well together. I like to have a menu where there’s something for everybody, and then also push some boundaries.

OT: Can you give us a sneak peek of what might be on Urbana’s spring drink list? 
AT: There’s an Italian liqueur that isn’t necessarily a cherry liqueur, but it has a lot of berry flavors. It’s also slightly reminiscent of Pimm’s, so we’re going to do a Pimm’s Cup variation with that. What we really have fun with at Urbana is taking the Italian style of drinking and adapting it to American cocktail sensibilities.

OT: Do you have any special ingredients in mind for the warmer months?
AT: This summer, I want to use some of the fresh ingredients from our garden [at Urbana] to make a house soda to incorporate in a seasonal rickey. I’m leaning toward yellow bell pepper and potentially some basil – just get a little weird. Keep it weird, keep it sexy.

URBANA: 2121 P St. NW, DC; 202-956-6650; 

BEN COLQUE  Cambria Hotel & Suites 
The bar at Cambria’s DC location near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The boutique hotel experience at an affordable price suits Colque, who thrives off of the welcoming environment at the bar. Before becoming Cambria’s Bar Manager last year, Colque worked as lead bartender at L2 Lounge in Georgetown. Now he pairs unique ingredients together for the hotel bar’s seasonal menus.

On Tap: Bartending at a hotel must lend itself to a lot of interesting requests from guests. Is this the case, or are travelers more normal than I think?  
Ben Colque: We have people that come all the way from Europe, Asia, South America, [and] of course, the whole United States. I just found out that they put a little bit of Malbec in their whiskey in Argentina. I was like, “Really? Okay.”

OT: So the guests keep you on your toes then.
BC: Of course. Every day, different people come here and you’re surprised. You try [their cocktail selections], and they’re not bad. They’re not bad at all.

OT: Do these guest recommendations from around the world ever inspire your seasonal menu? 
BC: [This year], I’m going to try to make at least two, maybe three, cocktails from each region [including] Europe, the U.S. and South America. I think people will feel welcome. They will feel like they came from home, and [now] they’re coming home. I think that’s our goal here in the hotel.

OT: What’s the weirdest thing someone has ever requested from Cambria’s bar? 
BC: My bartender was like, “Okay, I need to talk to you. [This guest] wants me to boil vodka and put it in a huge glass with ice and iced tea. And she wants four [servings].” So we were Googling “boiling vodka.” Apparently, [singers] drink that to clear their throats. And then we [realized] it was Rihanna.

OT: Requests for boiling vodka aside, what do you have in store for the spring and summer? 
BC: We’re getting ready for our new summer cocktails that will include a lot of passion fruit and other juices. We have a new product that is Mr. Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite drink, the Singani 63, from South America. We’re planning to put that as a main drink.

OT: What Cambria cocktail do you have the most fun making? 
BC: The blackberry watermelon mojito. I think it’s the best drink that we have here. The muddling, the mixing, and the color – it’s beautiful.

CAMBRIA SUITES: 899 O St. NW, DC; 202-299-1188;

A DC Craft Bartenders Guild member with five years of bartending experience under her belt that includes three years at the Park Hyatt’s Blue Duck Tavern in Georgetown, Alexandra Gordon is a self-described “gin girl” with a penchant for putting a modern twist on classic cocktails. Gordon is part of a rare breed of DC residents who actually grew up in the area (Reston, Va.) and decided to stay (now in the West End), making her role at Blue Duck even more of a perfect fit – some of their cocktails are even named after DC parks.

On Tap: Do you have any spring cocktails that will pay homage to our fair city’s cherry blossoms?
Alexandra Gordon: We have an incredible tea that’s like a cherry blossom tea, and we want to incorporate that into a cocktail.

OT: Do you work closely with the Blue Duck chefs to create new cocktail recipes? Is it a collaborative process?
AG: I work at such an incredible property. We have a huge downstairs kitchen where I literally could order anything under the sun that I want to play with. All of the chefs are willing to help me with anything I want to try. And there’s a lot of trial and error, to be honest with you.

OT: That’s great to have the freedom to try new things and see what happens.
AG: Oh absolutely, and because I work at such an incredible restaurant, I can experiment. There’s a lot of cool produce and things downstairs that I can play with.

OT: What types of cocktails are you experimenting with now?   
AG: We’re going to start a gin and tonic program where we have three gins and three tonics, and we’ll be listing them by themselves so you can play around with [them]. We’ll have the guests be able to almost create their own [cocktails] through our three and three.

OT: What is your signature cocktail or the biggest crowd-pleaser? 
AG: I would say that bourbon is probably our strength. We have the Park Manhattan, which uses Bulleit rye, sweet and dry vermouth, and orange bitters. That’s become a standard here.

OT: What sets Blue Duck’s drink menu apart from other area bars? 
AG: We’re extremely seasonal. I feel like it excites guests to be able to come and sit down at the bar and always try something new.

BLUE DUCK TAVERN: 1201 24th St. NW, DC; 202-419-6755;

best bars march madness

Best Local Spots to Catch March Madness

March Madness is upon us, with the NCAA tournament kicking off its 64 games on St. Paddy’s Day. In anticipation of the upcoming games, On Tap put together a list of our top picks in the D.C. area for enjoying the tourney with a little flair. Our short list features sports bars with great drink selections, elevated menus, endless HDTVs to choose from and a less rowdy, mellower ambiance for cheering your team on to victory. Not going to make it out for the tourney, or feeling like your bracket will be busted before you begin?  These locations are all great date places and have plenty to offer besides big screens.

Champps Kitchen + Bar
Champps Kitchen + Bar is a community sports bar with a down-to-earth Midwestern atmosphere, nearly 30 varieties of beer and dependable comfort food. Kevin Songster, managing partner at the bar’s Pentagon Row location, says Champps is still the best seat outside of the stadium.

“Where else can you have as many TVs?” Songster asks (rhetorically).  “There isn’t a [March Madness] game we’re not going to show.”

Champps has four 110-inch laser projection screens, four 70-inch LCD HDTVs and 45 50-inch HDTVs. Songster points out some of the bar’s lighter food options, like the tuna poke appetizer or Tuscan salmon, for those who want to enjoy the game without having to unbutton their jeans/wear stretchy pants to the bar, and different drink specials every day of the week.

CHAMPPS KITCHEN + BAR: 1201 S Joyce St. Arlington, VA; 703-414-3601;

High Velocity
Derek VanBrakle guarantees that High Velocity carries a beer you haven’t tried before. The restaurant manager at the Marriott Marquis near Penn Quarter and the Verizon Center is referring to High Velocity’s 48 draft lines.

“We’re always reaching out to [beer] vendors to get the newest, latest stuff,” he says. “We also try some that nobody’s ever heard of before, because the only way to know if you like a beer is if you try it.”

Located in the Marriott Marquis, High Velocity offers 40 HDTVs – three at 120 inches and the rest at 55 – and quieter spots to park it and watch your March Madness game of choice. During the tournament, the swanky sports bar will serve $5 pints of New Belgium Fat Tire and Citradelic IPA. Plus, bourbon fans can swing by The Dignitary (50-feet from High Velocity in the Marquis) before or after the game and choose from up to 70 different bourbons and even some high-end scotches.

HIGH VELOCITY: 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; 202-824-9389;

The Bracket Room
The aptly named Bracket Room in Clarendon has a tight community of regulars, according to bartender Tania Amador, while also attracting a diverse crowd.

“You see a lot of bonding going on during big games,” Amador says. “A little smack-talking is always in good fun. It’s never a volatile experience here.”

Bracket Room offers 38 Samsung Infinity Edge LED TVs ranging in size from 55 to 75 inches, half-price happy hour Monday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m. and 75 beers to choose from. Some of the most popular dishes include the “world’s best” tater tots, baby back ribs marinated and slow-braised for 12 hours, and an authentic lobster roll that Maine natives are sure to approve of.

BRACKET ROOM: 1210 N Garfield St. Arlington, VA; 703-276-7337;

In the heart of the U Street Corridor sits The Prospect, an upscale sports bar with 45 HDTVs, craft beers and ciders, signature cocktails, and high-quality stadium and tailgating fare. The Prospect’s interior is covered in sports memorabilia – including an impressive collection of baseball mitts above the stairs and a brick wall of staggered baseball bats – and also offers a 40-seat patio for patrons to enjoy during warmer weather. Notable menu items include three types of home mules served in copper mugs – classic, spicy and strawberry – and hog wings that made Thrillist’s “Best Food & Drink of 2015” list.

“There’s not a bad seat in the house,” says Managing Partner Brian Dombrowski. “From every angle or direction, you’re able to see a specific game or multiple games at the same time.”

THE PROSPECT: 1214 U St. NW, DC; 202-450-4109;

Old Town Pour House in Gaithersburg is ready for March Madness. General Manager Aaron Gordon says the ambiance is going to be awesome, with a great crowd of customers, the Pour House’s upbeat and friendly staff, a DJ spinning tunes during commercial breaks, plus upscale bar food and a diverse craft beer selection with over 90 drafts.

“We’re the total package,” he says. “There’s no restaurant in Montgomery County with the TV setup that we have. We have 14 viewing screens, so every single game will be on.”

Gordon says the bar’s three 110-inch and 11 60-inch flat screen TVs have a great sound system. Added bonus: Old Town Pour House is known for serving limited-edition brews and suds from local breweries.

OLD TOWN POUR HOUSE: 212 Ellington Blvd. Gaithersburg, MD; 301-963-6281;

Impressively sized National Pastime Sports Bar & Grill, offering 600 seats and 42 HDTVs – including a brand new and gargantuan 30-foot-wide LED screen that can break out into 32 games, four games in quadrants, or only one or two games at a time, depending on the day. The sports bar also caters to those of us that prefer a quiet space to watch our team kick some butt, with smaller dining areas featuring individual screens.

Andrew Gould, the executive chef of restaurants at Gaylord National Resort, notes the Indian-inspired veggie burger, lamb burger with mint mayo and health-conscious Cobb salad (topped with salmon, crab cakes or chicken) as some of his top picks on the menu. Specialty March dishes include stew made with a Port City Brewing porter (National Pastime is adamant about serving local brews), corned beef and cabbage, and fish and chips. And get ready for some March Madness specials offering good deals on beers and appetizers during the games.

“We have a great local following from the Oxon Hill area and DC itself,” says Gould. “There isn’t another National Pastime. Our menus and our offerings are unique, and I think our service and general atmosphere is a lot different than what you get at other places.”

NATIONAL PASTIME SPORTS BAR & GRILL: 201 Waterfront St. Oxon Hill, MD; 301-965-5500;

An Evening with Celtic Chefs
An Evening with Celtic Chefs

An Evening with Celtic Chefs

A bit of blarney, some bipartisan peacemaking and some seriously swoonworthy food – the best of all of DC’s worlds collide in An Evening with Celtic Chefs on April 13 at the St. Regis Hotel downtown celebrating the work of the Washington Ireland Program (WIP). The program reaches “across the aisle” in Congress and “across the isle” to promote peace in Ireland and serve as a model for post-conflict reconciliation. It is also a model for throwing an untraditional Washington party. “No sit-down tables,” insists WIP Board Member Kevin Sullivan. “No long speeches.” “And no rubber chickens!” exclaims Carmel Martin, a first-generation Irish American and WIP board member who has sampled a lifetime of rubber chicken in her distinguished career as a civil rights attorney and policy guru. The star of this event is the food.  “I will never forget the foie gras macaron that the team from Le Diplomate served last year,” Martin recalls fondly. So it’s settled: you’re going. Obviously. What local foodie stars are we eagerly anticipating? So glad you asked. Here are three of the six.

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo
Originally from Syracuse, N.Y., Chef Ted Hughes started in small restaurants, worked in hotels and resorts around the world, and then landed in DC at the Irish Inn at Glen Echo – with the goal of eventually having a place of his own. That time has finally come with the March opening of Lahinch Tavern & Grill in the Cabin John Shopping Center & Mall in Potomac, Md., which he co-owns with the all-Irish crew behind the Irish Inn. In an environment of reclaimed wood and opulence glass, this casual neighborhood Irish American tavern and grill will feature fresh, locally-sourced interpretations of Irish cuisine – think shepherd’s pie, but made with braised short ribs.

Hughes and the Irish Inn have been involved with the WIP’s An Evening with Celtic Chefs for many years. Irish Inn co-owner Christie Hughes came to the U.S. from Ballymahon in County Longford over 40 years ago, and has long been a mainstay of Washington’s Irish community. The opportunity to support the WIP and to encourage peace in the homeland while serving great food was too tasty to resist.

So what will Hughes unveil at An Evening with Celtic Chefs? Probably his favorite Irish food: sausage rolls, which he makes with an Irish mustard slaw, “which gives it a bit of unexpected zing,” he says proudly. He served these at the event last year, and they were tremendously popular.

“It’s a very common Irish food,” Hughes notes. “You pop into a little shop and grab a sausage roll, almost like street food, so it really makes sense for an event like this.”

Chef Tracy O’Grady has the distinction of having been a “Celtic chef” every year of the celebration’s existence.

“It’s a smaller, more intimate event that’s close to my heart,” she notes. And “it’s a program that builds peace in the world – people really should look at what the Irish and the U.K. have accomplished.”

O’Grady, originally from the ethnic Irish enclave on the south side of Buffalo, N.Y., grew up on Irish fare; when she opened the critically-acclaimed Willow in Ballston, she updated that heritage with a focus on fresh and local ingredients. But the smoked salmon still came directly from Ireland via Fergus Kennedy of  “Most Things Irish.”

Willow’s closing late in 2015 was a much-mourned moment (the restaurant’s last night was an “Irish wake”), but as O’Grady observed, “it’s a tough industry to start with, and it’s getting tougher.” Now, working in a kitchen without the pressures of small business ownership is “a breath of fresh air. I love the place and

I love the staff, and I’m happy to be here.”

So what can we expect on April 13 from this Celtic chef? O’Grady is mum on menu details, but “we always try to do a modern interpretation of Irish cuisine,” she says.

“One year we did Irish flatbread, with smoked salmon and Irish cheddar – that was really popular. One year I did risotto – with Irish oats.”

Every year she has whipped up something savory and something sweet, including a memorable Guinness cake with Bailey’s buttercream. We can’t wait to see O’Grady’s post-Willow creativity blossom.

JOHN FIELDING Broad Branch Market
John Fielding, who was trending before DC’s food scene was trendy, has been involved with the WIP event for many years.

“We loved the idea of what the program represents about working together through our differences to achieve the greater goals of peace and prosperity,” he remembers.

And the Irish connection?

“My partner Tracy Stannard (maiden name Concaugh) is from an Irish family from Boston, and I’m a bit of a mutt from the British Isles.”

Fielding has a soft spot for the Emerald Isle. While traveling around Ireland a few years ago, “what really struck me was the quality of the produce, dairy and proteins – amazing lamb and salmon, of course, but the vegetables were beautiful, and I could drink the milk all day. And the eggs – electric orange yokes and creamy whites.”

But the chef’s favorite is the full Irish breakfast.

“We stayed at a B&B in Dingle, and sitting at the table in the morning drinking tea and waiting for my plate – I would take that over most fine dining experiences.”

At last year’s An Evening with Celtic Chefs, Fielding represented Chao Ku in Shaw and served an Irish-Chinese breakfast: five-spice black pudding with Chinese pork sausage and fried quail egg. In previous years, he has participated in the event representing his business, Broad Branch Market. This year’s menu, which comes courtesy of Fielding’s new Soapstone Market (Van Ness, opening late summer 2016), is still a blank slate.

“We will definitely have Tracy’s famous Irish soda bread in the mix, but the rest will be determined as we get closer.”

Fun Facts About the Event
For seven years, An Evening with Celtic Chefs has raised money for WIP’s service and leadership programs.

Six DC celebrity chefs will show off at a variety of cooking stations, and then their culinary creations will be plated and served up by Washington VIPs – last year featured Senator Chris Murphy, novelist Alice McDermott and Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley as glam sous chefs.

This year, the evening will honor Joyce and John Flynn for their years of service to the WIP.

Alumni of WIP’s leadership and service programs include the youngest Cabinet ministers currently serving in the Irish and Northern Irish governments, and two members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Don’t miss An Evening with Celtic Chefs on April 13 from 7-9 p.m. For more information, go to

THE ST. REGIS: 923 16th St. NW, DC; 202-638-2626;

Irish Whiskey dc

Irish Whiskey Trail

When you’re ready to expand your knowledge of Irish drinking beyond Guinness, there’s an increasingly large array of options to consider. With the luck of the Irish on your side, you may even be able to try some of the country’s best and newest whiskeys during your St. Patrick’s Day adventures in and around the District.

The newest from Jameson is the exciting Jameson Caskmates release, taking Jameson Original and finishing it in barrels that previously held the Franciscan Well Brewery’s Irish stout. Caskmates adds notes of coffee, cocoa and hops to classic Jameson.

“Imagined from a conversation in a neighborhood pub, Jameson Caskmates is a product of shared passion for craft, quality and collaboration,” says Sona Bajaria, Pernod Ricard USA’s Director of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

It sounds like a whimsical story, but it’s true, as longtime friends came up with the idea over drinks. It just so happens that the friends were Dave Quinn, master of whiskey science at the Old Jameson Distillery, and Shane Long, head brewer at Franciscan Well.

Another Jameson expression worth exploring is the still relatively new Black Barrel. Aged in bourbon barrels that have been twice-charred, Black Barrel delivers added, intense notes of vanilla, spice and nuts.

Insider Recipe: While Caskmates is best enjoyed neat, perhaps with an Irish stout by its side, try Black Barrel in an Irish classic, the Tipperary. Use 1.5 oz. Black Barrel, .75 oz. sweet vermouth and .75 oz. green Chartreuse.

The Quiet Man launched at the start of 2016, in conjunction with Luxco and Niche Drinks, based in Derry, Ireland. Ciaran Mulgrew of Niche Drinks founded the brand in honor of his father, John, a career bartender.

“In more than 50 years behind the bar, my father saw and heard it all,” says Mulgrew. “But like all good bartenders, John Mulgrew was true to the code and told no tales. He was ‘The Quiet Man,’ or as they say in the pubs of Ireland, ‘A Fear Ciuin.’”

Insider Recipe: Two varieties are available, including their traditional blend and eight-year single malt. Try the blend in the brand-recommended Quiet Irish Sour. Use 1 oz. of Quiet Man Blended, two ounces lemon juice, .5 oz. of simple syrup and a dash of bitters, shaken with ice and served up.

Teeling Whiskey is now proudly the only operational distillery actually located in Dublin. Production is underway there, while the brand still has supply from its previous operation.

The current lineup includes a single grain, malt and small batch blended offering, as well as several premium expressions. Each bottled at 46 percent ABV, they can offer some oomph to cocktails while also being enjoyed neat.

Insider Recipe: Try the Teeling Souring Inferno, made with 1.5 oz. Teeling Small Batch, .75 oz. simple syrup, .75 oz. maraschino liqueur and an egg white. Shake it all together and serve it up. To elevate it further, set it on fire – literally. You can brûlée the egg white with a lighter to give it an exciting twist.

Tullamore D.E.W. has unveiled their oldest-ever release, Trilogy.

“We’re really excited about it – [it’s] 15 years [old] – and it’s got the hallmarks of Tullamore D.E.W.,” says Brand Ambassador Tim Herlihy.

He’s referring to the brand’s “power of three,” referencing triple distillation, as well as the utilization of three varieties of Irish whiskey in its blends: column distilled grain, pot still and malt. But in the case of Trilogy, there’s an added wrinkle.

“We mature it in three different types of casks,” says Herlihy. “Bourbon, sherry and then we’ll also do a three-month rum finish as well.” That rum-cask finishing provides entirely distinctive notes to the whiskey.

Insider Recipe: Trilogy is best enjoyed neat, but Herlihy suggests using another Tullamore release, Phoenix, for cocktails.“That’s a 55 percent ABV, 110-proof Irish whiskey,” he says. “It works great because of the high proof, and you can give an Irish flair to any high-proof bourbon drink.” Try it in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan riff.

West Cork Irish Whiskey is a newer brand to the U.S., with two different whiskeys including their original classic blend that incorporates both grain and malt whiskey, and their 10-year single malt, aged entirely in first-fill, re-charred bourbon barrels.

“They are a true artisanal producer, using only spring water sourced from the Ilan River,” says Gary Shaw, whose company, M.S. Walker, imports the brand. “And they are the only Irish distillery to exclusively malt all of their own Irish barley.”

Insider Recipe: A small artisanal approach is refreshing for Irish whiskey, typically known for its big brands. Try a brand-recommended W.C. & G. cocktail, with a pour of West Cork Original topped off with ginger ale and served over ice.

Get your  Irish On  at these DC Bars
The Dubliner
The Dubliner’s massive Irish whiskey collection includes all varieties, as well as a lineup of vintage and very rare releases.
THE DUBLINER: 4 F St. NW, DC; 202-737-3773;

Irish Whiskey DC 
The bar is named for the stuff, so you bet it’s a good choice. While the selection isn’t strictly limited to Irish whiskey, the vast majority of the bar’s expansive list is dedicated to it.
IRISH WHISKEY DC: 1207 19th St. NW, DC; 202-463-3010;

Jack Rose
With 2,400+ whiskeys, there are certainly some great Irish selections. According to Tullamore’s Herlihy, there’s a potential plan in place for Jack Rose to become the only bar in the U.S. carrying its Global Travel Retail release, Cider Cask.
JACK ROSE: 2007 18th St. NW, DC; 202-588-7388;

Fund a Flight

Fund a Flight Happy Hour at Brickside Bethesda

Guests joined Flats 8300 and On Tap Magazine at Brickside Food & Drink in Bethesda for a Fund a Flight Happy Hour to benefit Luke’s Wings. The donations are going to help fly Army Specialist William Thomas? family to see him at Walter Reed! Photos: Brittany Thomas

best new brews
Eight beer samplers lined up on a table

5 Specialty Brews You Should Know More About

Beer snobs around the world understand how special beer really is. Beer isn’t just beer. It represents a story. A story of how it came about, often times filled with rich history. It represents a careful and ingenious process of fruition—a craft any brewer or brewery prides itself on. It represents great appreciation for flavor combinations and palate pleasers—tasting is treated as an art that only the finest participate in. Beer is special, and with so many wonderful brews out there, it can be hard to choose favorites. At the very least, here are five specialty beers worth getting to know.

Guinness Nitro IPA
Guinness Nitro IPA is new to market and possibly the most innovative beer under the brewery staple. It’s an English-Style IPA, characterized by the balanced blend of hops and roasted barley with citrus accents, but integrates Guinness’ famously smooth creamy texture—giving drinkers a different experience than they normally encounter with IPAs (English- or American-style). This unique finish is achieved through Guinness’ pioneered nitrogenation process that causes carbonation bubbles to be smaller and denser, thus creating signature smoothness.

2. 3 Floyds Zombie Dust
A lot of times pale ales are easily forgotten—lost in a sea filled with thousands of average pale ales. 3 Floyds Brewing Co.’s Zombie Dust Pale Ale isn’t one of those lost souls. As soon as this one touches the lips of any half-decent beer aficionado it leaves a solid impression, one that makes people go the distance to find it. The beer is intensely hoppy yet not hoppy in a heavy capacity—almost as if the “dust” in the name speaks true to how the hops grace imbibers with a friendly but light presence. Its tropical fruitiness containing a citrus and mango flair is just the right amount when first sipped and the follow up bitterness gives it balance while the finishing creamy mouth feel provides a triumphant grand finale.

3. Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin
Ballast Point is a well-respected brewery among IPA drinkers. Its popular Sculpin IPA has a spin off and that’s the Habanero Sculpin—perhaps the San Diego-based brewer got some inspiration from its geographically close friends south of the border. It’s an IPA with bright citrusy notes plus the floral heat of habaneros, extracted from real habanero peppers. The kick of spicy hotness naturally pairs well with island favorites such as Jamaican jerk chicken, tropical bread pudding and coconut Basmati rice. Even if a beer connoisseur doesn’t prefer India Pale Ales, this is one to make an exception for since the special habanero touch is not found in beers just anywhere.

4. Allagash White
Allagash White is inspired by traditional Belgian wheat beer. It’s hard to stop drinking these at the bar or at the local artisan pizza place. Brewed with a generous portion of wheat, Allagash White is spiced with coriander and Curaçao orange peel along with a secret spice from Allagash Brewing Company—it’s refreshing and different. The brew gives off an air of class but can hang among the commercial favorites—one that almost all can agree is easy to drink but pulls more gravity due to the agreeable taste bud satisfaction it brings.

5. Left Hand Milk Stout
For stout fans, Left Hand Brewing Company’s Milk Stout is up in the top ranks. This dark, creamy sweet stout deserves the milky reputation as roasted malt and coffee flavors build its foundation. Fittingly enough, it compliments rich sugary foods like cake, and is a perfect partner in crime for barbeque.

Anyone seasoned in the world of beer should know this handful of excellent craft brews. Powerful in presence with distinct flavors and finishes, they are among the best and taking note of their existence is a must.

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;

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;

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;

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;

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;, 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