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Photo: courtesy of The Study

The Study at Morrison House Brings Cocktails to Cozy Alexandria Space

It has always been said to never judge a book by its cover, at least that was always told to me as a child. This is how I felt as I approached Morrison House, a new member of the Autograph collection. As I opened the door I was greeted by a softly lit entrance with a fresh linen scent, almost as if I stepped right off King Street into a storybook, providing a quiet reprieve from the heat and chaos of the outside. I was swiftly swept into a cozy bar area, immediately made to feel at home.

The Study at Morrison House is an intimate bar located within Morrison House, a boutique hotel. Situated in a small residential street, just a block over from the hustle and bustle of King Street, they specialize in a seasonal rotation of small plates and signature house-made cocktails.

As I settled into the soft leather backed bar chairs, the bartender Cynthia immediately introduced herself and offered me the signature cocktail of the evening and the rest of the summer, the Gin Chamomile Milk Punch. The punch was incredibly refreshing, and proved to be a good choice even for those who are not fans of gin. The mixture of gin and chamomile was a lovely floral experience for the tongue, and the pre-frosted glasses were a nice added touch for the warm weather.

As the taste was something I had never encountered before, I was intrigued – so much so that I asked Cynthia how it was made. The process takes two days and involves a bottle of gin and many bags of chamomile tea, eventually combined together with milk. As the process is incredibly lengthy, she informed me she gages the necessity based on any events that are being hosted at the hotel.

As I sipped my punch, I noticed the variety of ages and faces around me, telling me that while it can feel like an old fashioned hotel from the outside, you walk in and all your expectations are immediately transformed, especially with the incredibly friendly and knowledgeable staff. This space is made for everyone, no matter their age or food and drink favorites. Whether you want a small bite or a glass of local Virginia rosé, The Study at Morrison House has something to offer for your particular palate.

As I finished my drink, food slowly began to be passed around, starting with “Mom’s Pimento Cheese,” a creamy pimento cheese served on the flakiest crostini I have ever encountered. As soon as I finished my bite, I was able to speak to Chef Peter McCall, the mastermind behind the spot’s food program. He told me his focus was on seasonal ingredients and plates, he rotates the menu based on the fresh vegetables and other ingredients he can get from the farmer’s market. On top of that, he wanted the emphasis to be on the cocktails, with a nice flavorful bite to go along with their signature drinks. When I mentioned how much I enjoyed the pimento cheese, he smiled and said it was actually his mother’s recipe. The small plates aspect adds to the overall experience in the sense that you can hold a nice conversation and be able to enjoy rotating varieties of fresh food as well.

If you are looking for an elegant bar where you can come relax and enjoy a refreshing cocktail for a good value, The Study is the ideal place. The concept here is that of a best-kept secret, a place where you can have a cocktail and conversation, away from everything else going on. Especially in the hot days we are bound to encounter in the DC area’s summer, it is a welcome break from the overpowering haze and humidity outside.

Photo: Courtesy of ThreeLockharts PR

BLT Steak’s Fearlessly Fresh Cocktails

As summer draws to a close and cooler months await us, it’s time to ditch the sugary, syrup-based drinks that permeate summer cocktail programs in favor of something fresher. Light enough to enjoy while the heat continues but not so summery they seem out of place, BLT Steak’s Drink Your Veggies program from beverage director James Nelson features fresh fruits and vegetables in every drink.

The result is potent and refreshing drinks without the sugar that cocktail connoisseurs know can lead to overpowering a drink’s complex flavors – or a dreaded headache the next day. And since the drinks are made on the spot with farm-to-table ingredients, you’re guaranteed vibrance in every sip.

For an elevated take on the orange juice and vodka, look no further than the What’s Up Doc. The vinegar in the  carrot shrub keeps the Orange Hangar 1 Vodka-based drink refreshingly tart, while cinnamon adds a dash of fall flavor to the vividly colored cocktail.

Most of us could use some more greens in their diet. The Don’t Forget The Fennel definitely counts – it even has slivers of nutritious beets floating in it. The bite from the fennel and lime paired with Bombay Sapphire gin and refreshing cucumber will make you forget there’s even a healthy ingredient in this drink.

But the real highlight of Nelson’s menu is a wildly creative take on a simple dish that has taken breakfast menus by storm. The Have Your Toast and Eat It Too is all the ingredients of avocado toast condensed into a cocktail – a dream for any millennial and/or avocado lover.

This isn’t just a drink that relies on recreations of the flavors in avocado toast, though. Hendricks Gin is the perfect vehicle for fresh, muddled avocado. Nelson makes a tangy and refreshing tomato soda to add some effervescence to the concoction, and it’s finished with an everything bagel rim and lemon slice. The result is a creamy, bubbly drink that would beat a Bloody Mary in a contest for the best brunch drink with flying colors.

BLT Steak: 1625 I St. NW, DC; 202-689-8999; www.bltrestaurants.com/blt-steak/washington-d-c/