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Photos: M.K. Koszycki
Photos: M.K. Koszycki

Behind The Bar: Archipelago, Paladar and Bar Charley

Rum is so much more than the liquor component of a piña colada. We chatted with three local experts about the vibrant world of rum and tiki, and the best drinks their spots have to offer in honor of National Rum Day on August 16.


Owen Thomson - Photo by M.K

Owen Thomson
Owner, Archipelago

On Tap: Tell me about the different rums featured on your menu.
Owen Thomson: Rum is one of the most varied spirits in the world because no other spirit is produced in as many places. It’s made from sugarcane – most are made from molasses – and you’ll find a few producers making it from fresh-pressed sugarcane juice. There’s a whole manner of ways people try to classify rum, and the easiest way that I was taught has to do with colonial pieces: there’s English, French and Spanish.

OT: How do you decide which style of rum goes in which drink?
OT: Tiki has a pantheon of classic cocktails that call upon certain styles of rum, but more interesting is the fact that most of them call on multiple rums. So rather than a drink needing two ounces of Jamaican rum, you might have three different rums in a tiki drink, which creates a drink you really can’t get anywhere else.

OT: What’s your favorite drink on the menu and why?
OT: I always enjoy the Mai Tai. It is obviously an old school drink that people who don’t even work in tiki learn how to make. It was my introduction to this style of drink, so figuring out our Mai Tai blend was one of my favorites.

OT: What sets Archipelago apart from other bars that heavily feature rum-based drinks?
OT: We are the only tiki bar in the area. This time of year, you’ll see a lot of tiki menus or people will flip their outdoor bar for a summer tiki menu. A lot of people switch to rum this time of year, but we do it all year. Tiki is only partially about the drinks. It encompasses the whole vibe, [including] the décor. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a tiki bar.

Jungle Room Experience 2 - Photo by M.K

The Jungle Room Experience
Rhum agricole
Blue Curaçao
Soursop
Cachaça
Apricot
Lemon

Archipelago: 1201 U St. NW, DC; www.archipelagodc.com

Gavin Nazareth 2 Photo by M.K

Gavin Nazareth
Bartender, Paladar Tysons Corner

On Tap: Your menu features a wide array of rums, and a key to what rums are similar to other types of liquors. What inspired your expansive, detailed menu?
Gavin Nazareth: A lot of people aren’t into rums and don’t know what good rums are. If you’re a bourbon drinker, there are rums that we have that will closely mirror a bourbon flavor. Obviously, rums are a little sweeter than bourbons or whiskeys or scotches that might have a bit of a bite to them.

OT: Can you tell me about the flights you offer?
GN: We encourage people to try our rum flights because you get to taste different flavors. They’re only half-ounce pours – that way, you can get a flight or two and still be okay. You can do a Spanish, English, aged or spiced flight.

OT: What are some of the big differences between rum styles?
GN: Spanish and English styles are boiled down, so they’re close to a honey or molasses. Once you have that concentrated flavor, you add water and yeast to it. The French style is different – it’s almost like a gin. You take out the sugarcane juice and add yeast, and they’re more on the botanical side. Spanish and English are more bold and sweet, with a nice buttery finish.

OT: What’s your favorite rum drink?
GN: We showcase a different rum every month, and this month we’re doing the plantation series. Plantation rums are from Barbados. They age them in Barbados and then bring them to France for an additional step. We have something called the Plantation Jungle Burn where we use pineapple plantation rum, fresh juices [and] campari, so it has a really nice finish.

Plantation Jungle Burn - Photo by M.K

Plantation Jungle Burn
Plantation pineapple rum
Pineapple juice
Simple syrup
Lime juice
Campari

Paladar Tysons Corner: 1934 Old Gallows Rd. Vienna, VA; www.paladarlatinkitchen.com

DSCN4320

Brendan Mullin
Bartender, Bar Charley

On Tap: Tell me about the rum drinks you feature on tap.
Brendan Mullin: We have two cocktails on tap, and a whole tiki menu that contains a lot of our rum drinks. One we have on tap right now is called It’s Not a Mai Tai, It’s Our Tai. It’s white rum, curacao, pineapple, orange – a lot of tasty tropical flavors.

OT: What are your favorite drinks on the tiki menu?
BM: The Frog Smoking a Comically Large Cigar is massive, fun and has a ridiculous garnish in it, and has a blend of mezcal and rum. Our Zombie is also fantastic, but my favorite cocktail is the classic Mai Tai. In my opinion, that’s the best American cocktail. It’s a great way to try different rums.

OT: What about the non-tiki rum-based drinks?
BM: On our house cocktail menu, we have the You Can’t Do That on Television that has three different types of rum. One [rum] is infused with jalapeño and [the cocktail] also has a pistachio orgeat, so it’s kind of a riff on a Mai Tai. You Can’t Do That on Television was a show on Nickelodeon back in the day, and the drink is green and looks like slime and is reminiscent of the 90s.

OT: What food pairs best with tiki or tropical drinks?
BM: The best thing on our food menu to have next to our rum drinks is the pupu platter. It has a bunch of different food options like pork belly, wagyu beef skewers, half-smoke pierogies and crab tater tots. Anything that’s salty and has a tropical flavor to it will go really well with a sweeter tiki drink.

OT: What sets Bar Charley apart from other bars with tiki menus and large rum selections?
BM: I’d say just how comprehensive we are. People ask us if we’re a classics bar, a tiki bar or a wine bar. The answer is “Yes” across the board. We have a great wine selection, we have classics and we’re creative on our own. We can also do tiki!

You Can’t Do That On Television
Havana Club rum
Clément V.S.O.P.
Chacho
Dry curaçao
Lime juice
Pistachio orgeat

DSCN4325

Bar Charley: 1825 18th St. NW, DC; www.barcharley.com

Photo: Trent Johnson
Photo: Trent Johnson

A Day in the Life: Master Mixologist Paul Gonzalez

The concept of a passionate person is often talked about at parties and in cover letters, but it’s rare to meet someone in the flesh who truly embodies the phrase. For me, the sense of confidence and wonder that local mixologist Paul Gonzalez holds for the drink industry is uniquely infectious and authentic, and one of a litany of reasons we decided to pick his brain about his role in the local mixology scene.

On Tap: How did you get into the drink industry, and mixology specifically?
Paul Gonzalez: I’ve always been in the food and beverage industry. I’m the oldest of the four kids in my family so when I was younger, that made me my grandmother’s sous chef and that’s kind of where my flavor sensibilities started growing.  I worked in the industry through college, from server to bartender, and it was one of those things where you need the experience to get hired but can’t get experience unless you work. I would work for free until you gave me a job.

OT: Was there an “a-ha” moment when you knew this is what you are meant to do?
PG: When I got out of college, I was doing tons of stuff. I was cutting down trees, doing construction and working some office jobs because I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I landed on this because I always loved what I was doing in this industry, and I always kept it in my back pocket. Even after long weeks, I wanted to get behind the bar and see my friends. If everyone is there, why be anywhere else?


Mixology Must-Haves
A strong team
A positive outlook
Good liquor
Jiggers


OT: At what point did you know moving from Norfolk to a bigger market like DC was the right move for you?
PG: I knew I needed to move and continue growing. One of my good friends moved to DC and I would go back and forth to help with his catering company. By luck, one of his roommates happened to be running the bar program at Zaytinya. I started talking to him at one of the events we used to do, and when he found out I was driving up from Norfolk, he told me if I wanted to come up to DC full-time, he’d hire me there. So I literally came up on a Thursday, interviewed, got hired and then moved my stuff up that weekend.

OT: What was your first experience in a bigger market like?
PG: I worked for ThinkFoodGroup for about three years, and I learned a ton from them. A lot of it was their philosophy on hospitality. On the drink side, they focused heavily on flavors, so it wasn’t just, “Make me an Old Fashioned or a sazerac,” but they’d give us this flavor and that flavor, and challenge us to make something with it. That process makes you hone in on what each spirit tastes like and why.

OT: After that, you landed a gig with the wildly popular Drink Company’s pop-ups. How did that move come about?
PG: I bounced around for awhile and basically interned at a few places in the area I really wanted to work for. Columbia Room was one of those places, as I had friends there. I was pretty annoying about wanting a job with them, so I worked there for free, and it kind of burnt me out. [Laughs] But as soon as they had an opening at Southern Efficiency, they let me know I was in the running. At the time, whiskey was my weakest subject, but I leaned into it and told them directly, “I came to DC to get better, this is my weakest area and that’s why I want to work here,” and the rest is history.

OT: You recently worked at The Gibson, which was described as a “dream team” of mixologists by the Washington City Paper. Was this as fun as it sounds?
PG: It was really, really cool. I’ve had a blast working with The Gibson crew. It was one of those things that just kind of snowballed. My good friend Ed Lainez took over the bar program and after running into him, he told me who he was bringing on and I immediately was like, “Can I join?” Everyone there was super talented – we just checked our egos at the door and had in-depth conversations about drinks. We just wanted to get them right.


Can’t Live Without
My girlfriend
My puppy, Puppy the Vampire Slayer
Passion for anything you do
Good food
Good drinks


OT: Your next project is back with Drink Company at Eaton Hotel’s new bar. How far along is that?
PG: The whole hotel concept is super guest interactive. The bar will be a speakeasy-esque cocktail bar. We like the boozy drinks, but there will also be light, easy sipping beverages. I believe in the three-drink philosophy, where there’s three varietals of every type of cocktail. We want people to have a good time, but the goal is to make a memory and make it last. We’re shooting for a mid-August or September opening.

OT: In the meantime, you’ve been bouncing around and freelancing at different places. Is this just to learn and pick up new skills?
PG: I took this time to work with people who inspire me and who I want to learn from. I see all these awesome people running awesome programs, and I want to go work with them and pick their brains. There aren’t many industries where you can do this. One example is Hank’s Cocktail Bar up in Petworth. Jessica Weinstein is the beverage director for all of the Hank’s [locations], and she’s someone I’ve known for a long time now. You can see that she has her own style and [has made her own] footprint on elevated cocktails, but she’s taken all of the pretension out of it.

OT: What is your process for working on drinks? Do you have a concept and then work on it alone, or do you take ideas to others?
PG: It’s a little bit of both. The team works on ideas at least once a season. For instance, I’ll tell Jackson Crowder, co-manager at the Eaton Hotel’s bar, and then on the next day we both have off, we’ll hammer out variations of whatever concept. Then we’ll take those to the big meeting, and maybe one or two – or none – make it. Drink Company’s system is one of the best I’ve seen because they’re very open to ideas and collaboration

OT: Now that you’re moving into a managerial role and you’re the one giving tips and advice to younger people in the industry, what’s your long-term plan?
PG: It’s the same thing it’s been since I did my first interview in DC: I want to have my own bar in five years. I think I said that three years ago, so I have to start making moves. [Laughs] This is such a great city for it, and I would love to do something like that here.

For updates on Eaton Hotel, visit www.eatonworkshop.com/hotel.

Follow Gonzalez on Instagram at @paullyygee.

Eaton Hotel: 1201 K St. NW, DC; 202-289-7600; www.eatonworkshop.com/hotel

Photo: Shantel Mitchell Breen
Photo: Shantel Mitchell Breen

This is SOME Burger Battle

When you think summer, many images come to mind. From beaches to barbecues, the warmest season brings with it outdoor adventures and meals to be had. Two constants for most folks during the middle months are beers and burgers, and luckily for you, DC Burger Battle is slated to host its second annual event on August 23.

Meat and beer lovers will gather at the Hill Country Backyard Barbecue lawn at the National Building Museum as 10 restaurants battle burger vs. burger to see who reigns supreme. This year’s participants are b DC Penn Quarter, Bullfeathers, Blackfinn Ameripub, The Capital Burger, Due South, Hard Rock Cafe, Hill Country Barbecue Market, Rebellion, Sign of the Whale and Stoney’s on L. (More info on the participants below.)

While this event is meant to get people out and celebrating the weather, the DC Burger Battle also acts as a benefit for the nonprofit organization So Others Might Eat (SOME), which provides food, clothing and health care to impoverished people in DC.

“We know there’s about 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in Washington, and the number of people living in poverty is more than that,” says Kate Wiley, SOME’s marketing and communications manager. “We provide crucial services for people to help get by and improve their quality of life. We hope people are excited and motivated by our great cause, and we appreciate the support.”

Aside from the contributions from proceeds, SOME is also excited to gain more traction with young professionals. For them, the added exposure makes participating in events like these a no-brainer because if people can find out more about them, they may be more likely to get involved.

“We’re excited to be able to share what we do with a whole new audience,” Wiley says. “We just want to get our name recognition out there, and we’re able to provide a description of a multitude of services that are talked about onstage.”

Though SOME provides a serious contribution to the residents of the District, even Wiley is excited to simply enjoy the outdoor weather in late August.

“I think there was a lot of enthusiasm around [last year’s] event and being able to have a good time but also support a good cause,” she says. “It’s gratifying for us to be a part of an event like that.”

The second annual DC Burger Battle takes place on Thursday, August 23 from 6-9 p.m. Tickets include burger samples and all-you-care-to-enjoy Budweiser. Tickets cost $30. Learn more at www.dcburgerbattle.com.

Hill Country Backyard Barbecue at the National Building Museum: 401 F St. NW, DC; 202-556-2050; www.dcburgerbattle.com


Burger Battlers

b DC Penn Quarter
Last year’s first-place finisher and Burger Battle champion, b DC Penn Quarter offers a variety of burgers at their locations including some non-beef varieties. “Our featured burger will be the same as last year, the Classic B Cheeseburger, with meat, cheese and bread, keeping it simple and focusing on what’s important: the beef,” says general manager Brian Beauregard. 801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.burgersbeerbourbon.com

Blackfinn Ameripub
A serious competitor, Blackfinn Ameripub brings real ingredients by real people, and their menu always delivers a competitive burger. Though they don’t get wild with the ingredients; they focus on a traditional style, and the flavor is always present. 1620 I St. NW, DC; www.blackfinnameripub.com

Bullfeathers
With a name like Bullfeathers, you know this eatery means business. Their approach to burgers is not to be taken lightly; with a number of signature styles, variety is always an option at Bullfeathers. 410 1st St. SE, DC; www.fb.com/BullfeathersDC

The Capital Burger
Touting what they call “luxury burgers,” the Capital Burger offers a myriad of options at their brick-and-mortar site including their famous Capital Burger, featuring caramelized onions, Wisconsin Grand Cru gruyère and shallot aioli. 1005 7th St. NW, DC; www.thecapitalburger.com

Due South
A returning competitor from last year’s edition, Rusty Holman says they are still fine-tuning their burger for this year’s battle. “We will start with a high-quality brisket and chuck blend beef patty.” If you like meat on top of your meat, Due South might be for you. 301 Water St. SE, DC; www.duesouth.com

Hard Rock Cafe
Known for their décor and memorabilia adorning the restaurant, Hard Rock also serves up a fantastic burger. Last year’s burger featured a Budweiser beer sauce, look for something creative this year too. 999 E St. NW, DC; www.hardrock.com

Hill Country Barbecue Market
Though they don’t have a burger on their regular menu, the hosting Hill Country Barbecue grilled exquisite patties last year. While their expertise may lie in barbecue, the burgers from Hill Country at the DC Burger Battle will leave you wanting them when you visit the restaurant. 410 7th St. NW, DC; www.hillcountry.com

Rebellion DC
As their website says, this restaurant values American history, and when delving into the archives of our country, great burgers make frequent appearances. Count on Rebellion to carry on the tradition of churning out this delicious American favorite. 1836 18th St. NW, DC; www.rebelliondc.com

Sign of the Whale
Even though they deliver a mean crab dip and lobster bisque, Sign of the Whale is also purveyors of several burger styles including their namesake Whale Burger, which includes a patty served in between two grilled cheese sandwiches. 1852 M St. NW, DC: www.thewhaledc.com

Stoney’s
Stoney’s delivers a plethora of options at their DC location including the Stoney’s Burger, One Eye Burger and other classic variations. Be sure to try their special sauce. 1433 P St. NW, DC; www.stoneys-dc.com

Dc Beer Week

What’s On Tap: August 2018

Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s coming up at a few of these fine establishments.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1

My Imaginary Girlfriend at Lost Rhino Brewing Company
Join Lost Rhino Brewing Company for the release of their My Imaginary Girlfriend IPA. The brewery will have special pricing, giveaways and an opportunity to show off your gaming skills. There is a limited amount of M.I.G. available in cans at the brewery – only 300 cases are available. Festivities start at 1 p.m., free to attend. Lost Rhino: 21730 Red Rum Dr. Ste. 142, Ashburn, VA; www.lostrhino.com

Summer of Sour Series: De Leite
The Sovereign is thrilled to pour six drafts from one of their favorite lesser-known brewers in Belgium: Brouwerij De Leite. Highlights include Cuvée Jeune Homme, a perfectly balanced bitter-sour gem, and Cuvée Soeur’ise, in which a base tripel is soured with lacto then rolled into wine barrels with whole sour Polish cherries for six months. They will also have some Fils a Papa V, a strong ale aged in Bruichladdich Scotch barrels. 5-11 p.m. Free to attend. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

Unibroue Beer Dinner
Featuring salmon tartare, filet mignon and house made cheesecake, Granville Moore’s is offering a wonderful food lineup for the Unibroue beer pairing. All guests will receive the official Unibroue cookbook and glassware. Unibroue is located in Chambly, Quebec and is world-famous for their adaptation of traditional Belgian ales of the Trappiste varieties and food pairings with traditional French and Belgian cuisine. 7-10 p.m. $60. Granville Moore’s: 1238 H St. NE, DC; www.granvillemoores.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 2

CyberBrews
Join for an evening of networking, conversation and drinks with industry peers. We’re talking all things cyber and folks from the Fifth Domain’s award-winning editorial team will be there to chat with you. Oh, and beer, of course. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free to attend. Tysons Biergarten: 8346 Leesburg Pike, Tysons, VA; www.tysonsbiergarten.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3

Lost in the Wilderness at ChurchKey
ChurchKey will tap six exceptional beers from the two hard-to-find West Coast brewers. Headlining the list is a rare keg of the Lost Abbey Falling Rock, brewed for legendary beer bar Falling Rock Tap House’s 21st anniversary. This special brew is a blend of a sour blonde ale with nectarines, a cherry-infused sour red ale and a tequila barrel-aged beer. There is no admission fee for this event. All beers will be priced individually by the glass and in 4-oz. tasting pours. 4-11 p.m. Free to attend. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4

DC Country Crawl
The DC Country Crawl is the largest, wildest and rowdiest country-themed bar crawl in the city. Put on your boots and Daisy Dukes because it’s time to saddle up to the best bars on U Street. With admission, you’ll receive a signature country mug, rowdy party favors, cover free access to the U Street corridor’s best venues, specials, pictures and a raffle entry for prizes. DC Country Crawl: Various locations on U Street in NW, DC; www.projectdcevents.com

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8

Guided Cider Tasting
The District’s newest cidery, Capitol Cider House, is opening up on a Wednesday for a special treat: a grand tasting with the cider maker. You’ll learn about how cider is made and get a tour of the production area. The best part: you’ll be able to taste 10 Mid-Atlantic ciders. Following the tasting, the venue will remain open for those wishing to partake in the rest of the menu. 6-9 p.m. Tickets $20. Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.capitolciderhouse.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11

Port City Beer Event Featuring King Street Bluegrass and Big Timber
Join Port City Brewing Company at Union Stage for this free event featuring an extensive tap list of the brewery’s best beers, plus a full menu. The event will also feature music from King Street Bluegrass, a traditional blues/folk band from DC, and Big Timber. Drinks at 5 p.m., music at 7 p.m. Free to attend. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

MONDAY, AUGUST 13

Summer GAINs: 5K and Beer Tasting
Start your week off with a Monday evening run from Port City Brewing Company, now back to runs every Monday evening. Runners meet at the brewery tasting room before heading out for a one, three or five-mile run (it’s an out-and-back route so really, it’s as long as you care to make it). It’s a pleasant route through a park, then picking up a paved path along Holmes Run. 6:30-9 p.m. Port City Brewing: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17

8th Annual Cask Night at District ChopHouse
Don’t miss the eighth annual cask night at District ChopHouse featuring “Casks and Classics.” This tasting event features 20 local casks, abundant ChopHouse food offerings and a professional glass. 6-11 p.m. $50 per person. District ChopHouse and Brewery: 509 7th St. NW, DC; www.districtchophouse.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18

Paint Your Glass Off
At this beer-themed Paint Your Glass Off party, you will receive two glasses to paint (pilsner or stein), a glass of beer, all the supplies needed to paint your glass off, chances to win prizes, music, and of course, the opportunity to purchase amazing, delectable, scrumptious and savory food at happy hour prices. 1-3 p.m. Tickets $35. Brew Republic Bierwerks: 15201 Potomac Town Pl. Woodbridge, VA; www.brewrepublic.beer

Pizzeria Paradiso Summer Fest
This season’s beer fest will take place at Pizzeria Paradiso’s Dupont Circle location, which includes the spot’s lovely patio. Enjoy unlimited pizza and beer, included in ticket purchase for the four-hour event. The summer fest will also feature a draft line of rare and exception beers from several breweries. 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Tickets $80. Pizzeria Paradiso: 2003 P St. NW, DC; www.eatyourpizza.com

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21

5th Annual Battle of the Barrel Ages
Brought to you by Boundary Stone Public House, local brewing legends DC Brau, Atlas, 3 Stars and Right Proper square off in a battle royale of barrel-aged beers. A panel of judges as well as the popular vote from the public will decide which brewery wins the coveted dedicated draft line for an entire year. 5:30-10:30 p.m. Boundary Stone: 116 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC; www.boundarystonedc.com

Tap Challenge at Dacha
When talking about a new Double IPA on tap, Dacha Beer Garden thought, “Our beer club members could help!” This week, Dacha will feature three mystery Double IPAs and ask customers which one tastes best. Buy a flight and vote for which beer you think should be the beer garden’s newest tap line. 4-10:30 p.m. Free to attend. Dacha Beer Garden: 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

Sneak Peek: DC Beer Week 2018

The week-long celebration of the DMV’s craft beer scene is back once again. Presented by the DC Brewers’ Guild, the 10th annual DC Beer Week is set to run from Sunday, August 19 to Sunday, August 26. Throughout the week, local breweries, restaurants, bars and community partners are set to offer unique tastings, collaborations and events. Taste delicious brews and learn all about the world of craft beer at educational seminars. Below is just a taste of what you’ll see, as events are still being planned for the week. Be sure to check out www.dcbeerweek.net for more information as the dates draw near.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 19

DC Brewers’ Guild/City Winery Lager Fest
Lager Fest is an event planned by the local brewing community to showcase this region’s best lagers for your enjoyment. This event will bring together more than 30 craft breweries for an afternoon of refreshing lager-style beers, pilsners and related summer favorites, including hard-to-find brews. The event will also feature live music from some of your favorite local bands. 1-5 p.m. $40. City Winery DC: 1350 Okie St. NE, DC; www.dcbeerweek.net

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21

DC Beer Week: The Art of Beer
Phil Runco of Brightest Young Things will moderate a panel discussion about the current state of art, design and the beer industry. This event will focus on the work that goes into the designs featured on the labels, posters and logos of area breweries. Learn more about the process of art design in the beer industry while drinking some local brews. 6-8 p.m. Tickets $15. Carriage House Gallery: 1921 Sunderland Pl. NW, DC; www.heurichhouse.org

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22

DC Brau Brewing/Jameson Game Night at the Eleanor
DC Brau and Jameson will host a Wednesday evening party at the newly opened Eleanor to celebrate their caskmates partnership. 5-11 p.m. The Eleanor: 100 Florida Ave. NE, DC;
www.eleanordc.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 25

5th Annual Brewers on The Block
Don’t miss out on brews, food, music and more. Buffalo & Bergen and Suburbia are proud to announce the fifth annual Brewers on the Block at Union Market’s Suburbia, bringing together more than 20 of the region’s top breweries, cideries and meaderies along with friends of the block from across the country. 5-9 p.m. Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC;
www.unionmarketdc.com

SUNDAY, AUGUST 26

Fire Works Pizza 8th Anniversary Bash and Solidarity Pig Roast
Celebrate Fire Work’s anniversary and DC Beer Week 2018 with a solidarity pig roast. Chef Thomas will be firing up the grill and serving roasted pig, street corn and potato salad, plus enjoy live music, drink specials, prizes and giveaways. Be the first in Virginia to taste the DC Brewers’ Guild collaboration, Solidarity Pilsner, in cans. The price of a ticket gets you all-you-can-eat, plus one can of Solidarity Pilsner, Right Proper Brewing Raised by Wolves or Atlas Ponzi IPA. 12-8 p.m. $20 per ticket. Fire Works Pizza Arlington: 2350 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.fireworkspizza.com

Photos: Jean Schindler
Photos: Jean Schindler

Finnish Simplicity Reigns at Mikko

Lately, DC’s restaurant scene has been getting high off complicated-looking plates, exotic decor and ingredients we can’t pronounce. Wolfgang Puck called, and he wants his 90s life back. Not to be contrary, but there’s nothing I crave right now more than simple, clean flavors that don’t require a hovering waiter to explain.

Enter Mikko, the first restaurant from Mikko Kosonen, once chef at the Finnish Embassy, and recently of his eponymous catering firm, and now cheerfully ensconced on P St. and serving exactly what I’m craving.

With a minimalist Scandi look courtesy of local design agency INNATE, the cheerful, intimate space seamlessly blends retail, coffee counter, sandwich case, restaurant and bar. Order a cup of fish broth laden with cod, potatoes and dill, or one of the hearty pickled herring sandwiches on hearty brown bread, balanced with fresh cucumber and dill.

The contrast between the very preserved and the very fresh represents one of the most refreshing aspects of Finnish cuisine. The pastries have lots of fruits, cardamon and butter, and there are easy-drinking aquavit cocktails on offer.

Larger plates, including a wonderful venison with lingonberry sauce, are beautifully presented without pretension. The flavors are opinionated and crisp, honest and accessible. Just like Chef Mikko and his team. Now go eat!

Mikko: 1636 R St. NW, DC; 202-413-6419; www.chefmikko.com

Salted licorice ice cream.

Salted licorice ice cream.

Venison lingonberry.

Venison lingonberry.

Finish see bread.

Finish see bread.

Finnish Vodka.

Finnish Vodka.

A fish soup cocktail with Aquavite lemon soda and cucumber dill.

A fish soup cocktail with Aquavite lemon soda and cucumber dill.

Pancake and fresh berries.

Pancake and fresh berries.

Fish soup with cod salmon, potatos, peppercorns and dill.

Fish soup with cod salmon, potatos, peppercorns and dill.

Photo: Courtesy of O-Ku
Photo: Courtesy of O-Ku

New & Notable: Mikko, Pappe and More

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.

NEW

Mikko
Open: May 1
Location: Dupont Circle
Lowdown: The former chef to the Finnish ambassador just opened his own café serving the food of his homeland. Mikko Kosonen got his start at his family’s restaurant Stockholm and attended culinary school in Helsinki. In the U.S., he’s been cooking for diplomats, heads of state and royalty, but now he’s expanding his audience to include average Washingtonians. Nordic cuisine relies on simple preparations of ingredients like seafood, rye, mushrooms, berries and roots. The menu at Mikko is succinct but true to form, with specialties like house-smoked salmon, Danish-style open-faced sandwiches, Finnish soups and Nordic pastries. The café space is cozy, with dishes on display in a cold case at the entrance, a few seats at a counter facing the kitchen in the back and a street-side patio with additional seating, where I enjoyed a Karelian rice and egg pie alongside a gravlax sandwich. There’s also a small market offering a selection of Nordic cookies, chocolates, breads, jams and sauces. A note if you go: the operation is cashless. 1636 R St. NW, DC; www.chefmikko.com

O-Ku
Open: June 22
Location: Union Market
Lowdown: O-Ku, a Japanese restaurant with roots in Charleston and sister restaurants throughout the South, expanded to the Union Market neighborhood this summer. Each of the locations has its own executive chef with a distinct menu and the DC kitchen is helmed by Chef Bryan Emperor, who has studied Japanese cuisine for more than 25 years. His menu features traditional sushi and sashimi as well as modern interpretations of Japanese specialties and wood-fired, robata-style dishes from a binchotan grill. Highlights include puffed rice-crusted Japanese sea bass and an out-of-this-world king crab California roll. The industrial and minimalist two-story space has ample seating in the bar room and wood-accented sushi room, a plush Japanese whiskey lounge, and a roof deck with views of Union Market. 1274 5th St. NE, DC; www.okusushidc.com

Pappe
Open: June 4
Location: 14th Street
Lowdown: Vipul Kapila never ordered lamb vindaloo in Indian restaurants in the DC area because he couldn’t find a version that lived up to the fiery dish he remembers eating growing up in Delhi. That is, until he tried a truly authentic rendition at a restaurant in Falls Church. One bite, and he was hooked – so much so that he decided to team up with the chefs behind the dish, Sanjay Mandhaiya and Shankar Puthran, to open Pappe and finally bring a neighborhood Indian restaurant to 14th Street. That vindaloo is a star curry on the menu and I can attest, it is fiery. The menu also features three dishes that Mandhaiya learned while staging in India: butter chicken, chana pindi and taar gosht. Other popular items include vegetable samosas, prawn koliwada, junglee laal maas, fish chittnad and fire-grilled baingan bartha. The drink list draws on Indian spices like cardamom, tamarind and curry leaves for cocktails, sodas, teas and of course, mango lassis. The space is inspired by a New Delhi fabric market, with silk textiles draped over the tables, lanterns made from fabric-dyeing baskets and murals similar to those found painted on homes in Indian villages. The mural artist, John DeNapoli, is also behind the renditions of traditional Indian scenes that have been infiltrated with modern touches, such as a family in DC sports gear and an elephant marked with Uber and Lyft logos. The restaurant’s name means brother and Kapila said he wanted it to feel casual and welcoming while also capturing the bold, complex and exciting personality of his native country. 1317 14th St. NW, DC; www.pappedc.com

Tacos, Tortas & Tequila and Buena Vida
Open: May 4
Location: Silver Spring
Lowdown: Serbian restaurateur Ivan Iricanin, who popularized Balkan food in DC with Ambar and BABA, is steering his restaurant group south of the border with two new Mexican concepts in one building in Silver Spring. Both have a unique personality, but the common thread is house-made tortilla products and local, organic ingredients. Located on the ground floor, Tacos, Tortas & Tequila (TTT) is a casual taco joint that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu spotlights traditional tacos, tortas and tequila in addition to tostadas, quesadillas, taquitos, desserts, milkshakes, agua frescas, and Mexican sodas and beers. For breakfast, there are plenty of egg dishes and coffee drinks. On the second story, Buena Vida is a more upscale restaurant that offers an all-you-can-eat small plates deal for $19.99 during lunch and $35 during dinner. The dishes are more contemporary, like a mezcal-cured salmon tostada, a skate wing chicharron and fingerling sweet potato tostones. And Northern Virginia residents, fear not. Iricanin will be opening a second location of TTT and Buena Vida this fall in Clarendon opposite his Balkan spots. 8407 Ramsey Ave. Silver Spring, MD; www.tttrestaurant.com

NOTABLE

Butterfly Tacos y Tortas
Date: May 2
Location: Penn Quarter
Lowdown: José Andrés’ restaurant group, ThinkFoodGroup, has a spot in Penn Quarter dedicated to testing out new fast-casual concepts temporarily and gathering feedback from customers before officially debuting the restaurant. This R&D space is called ThinkFoodLab, and the latest occupant is Butterfly Tacos y Tortas. Think of it like the casual little sister of Oyamel, with a menu inspired by Mexico City’s street food. As the name implies, the two staple dishes are tacos and tortas. Don’t miss standouts like the taco filled with shredded beef in a smoky chile sauce and the torta stuffed with seared pork belly, guacamole, salsa, black beans and lime. There’s also a selection of salads, snacks, desserts and agua frescas, including fried potatoes with mole poblano and strawberry-lime-chile paletas. Fans of the concept will also be able to find the Mexican fare at a second location at D.C. United’s new Audi Field. 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.thinkfoodlab.com

Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue
Date: May 16
Location: National Building Museum’s west lawn
Lowdown: Hill Country Barbecue Market has once again taken over the National Building Museum’s west lawn for the annual Backyard Barbecue pop-up. It’s all part of the museum’s Summer Block Party, which centers on an interactive exhibit called “Fun House.” On the lawn in the afternoons and evenings (Wednesday through Sunday), the restaurant serves up sliced brisket, pulled pork sandwiches, Texas cheesesteaks and smoked hot link sandwiches, along with cocktails, wine and beer. On Fridays and Saturdays, there’s also live music. The pop-up runs through September 3. 401 F St. NW, DC; www.hillcountry.com/dc

Photo: Aja Neal
Photo: Aja Neal

Behind the Bar: ARTECHOUSE, Calico and Service Bar

We’re all guilty of picking a drink from a cocktail menu based on whether or not it will look good on our carefully curated Instagram feeds. Don’t worry, we do it too. In the spirit of embracing all that’s aesthetically pleasing this month, we selected three drinks whose unique garnishes and color combinations definitely make them look as good as they taste. So go ahead, post away – we won’t judge you.


Photo: Fareeha Rehman

Photo: Fareeha Rehman

Chad Spangler
Co-owner, Service Bar

On Tap: How important is design when creating a cocktail?
Chad Spangler: It’s the whole package together that’s going to create that experience for you. Just because something tastes good or has pretty good intrinsic flavor doesn’t make it great if the presentation isn’t there. Drinking something is as much a full experience of the senses as anything. It should look great, it should smell great, it should taste great, it should feel great.

OT: What’s your most aesthetically pleasing cocktail? 
CS: Our most aesthetically pleasing drink right now is Rhubarb Vodka Soda. We launched it last year. I love almost monochromatic cocktails or monochromatic things, where you can have all different shades of one color on top of another. So that drink is a really, really aesthetically pleasing bright pink that’s all natural from the rhubarb that we get.

OT: What else can you tell me about the presentation of your cocktails?
CS: We like to have fun and we don’t take ourselves too seriously in any direction. We do some whimsical things, and we’re not afraid to put a little extra money into making our drinks look great and to get some cool glassware that people are going to talk about.

Photo: Fareeha Rehman

Photo: Fareeha Rehman

Chad’s Pick
Rhubarb Vodka Soda
Rose
Soda
Vodka
Rhubarb
Clarified citrus

Service Bar: 926-928 U St. NW, DC; www.servicebardc.com


Photo: Aja Neal

Photo: Aja Neal

Ian Fletcher
Beverage Director, Calico

On Tap: What do you think guests enjoy most about your juice box cocktails?
Ian Fletcher: I think it’s a nostalgia thing. People just gravitate toward them. It’s pretty unique. We worked with one of the designers that helped design the space; he did the labels and everything for us.

OT: Do you offer any limited-time cocktails?
IF: We use our frozen drink machine. That’s going to be rotating depending on how well they do. But the intention is that there is no set thing in the frozen drink machine. We’ve been doing piña coladas with espresso. We discovered it on accident. My friend and I were drinking piña coladas and we just happened to have espresso as well and [combined them]. Piña coladas are really, really sweet and espresso is tart and bitter, so it works really well. I think we’re going to do a banana daiquiri next.

OT: What makes your outdoor space unique?
IF: On the weekends, the chef is out there grilling. You can have 200 people back here and everything is designed to be sectioned off so even when it’s packed, you don’t really notice how many people are here. It’s kind of like you’re in your own little backyard world. You can smell the barbecue – it’s just a good feeling.

[Pictured above]

Ian’s Pick
Lavender Lemonade
Vodka
Lemon
Lavender
Raspberry
Giffard Crème de Mure

Calico: 50 Blagden Alley, NW, DC; www.calicodc.com


Bryan Tate
Mixologist, ARTECHOUSE’s “Fractal Worlds” exhibit (July 7 – September 3)

On Tap: What elements of ARTECHOUSE’s “Fractal Worlds” exhibit are incorporated into your cocktails?
Bryan Tate: Fractals as we understand them are geometric shapes. They’re also very mathematical, so from a looks and presentation perspective, we want to incorporate that fractal element. And from a taste perspective, we want it to taste good. But also, the ratios going into the cocktails are on a mathematical basis – the way that the fractals are formed.

OT: How do patrons use the augmented reality app when trying cocktails?
BT: The augmented reality app gives a next dimension experience of the cocktail that allows the guest to experience it in a way they never have before.

OT: What garnishes do you use?
BT: Dehydrated fruits and egg white. We have a way to print a custom image onto a piece of wafer and then put that on top of the egg white, and that in itself is augmented in the cocktail.

OT: What’s your creative process?
BT: It’s decorating as many layers of the experience as you can. The texture changes what it does with the foam or an egg white. Or use creme de coconut to give it a different texture – paint it with that. It’s really important to have the guest experience the cocktail in as many different ways as possible while trying to align our vision with the artist. That’s the really fun part where creating cocktails comes into play: trying to turn what they’ve done – unbelievable art – into a drink.

OT: What flavors are in the Fractal Jungle cocktail?
BT: Flavors with summer aspects: watermelon, honey, matcha, vanilla, blackberry, pineapple. Things that are summery without being too light [so you’ll still get] the full experience.

Photo: Courtesy of ARTECHOUSE

Photo: Courtesy of ARTECHOUSE

Bryan’s Pick
Fractal Jungle
Lime
Mezcal
Sherry
Vanilla
Campari
Pineapple
Blackberry

ARTECHOUSE: 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, DC; www.dc.artechouse.com

Photo; Courtesy of The Bruery
Photo; Courtesy of The Bruery

Summer of the Sour Beer

Sour is the beer of summer. No, we’re not bestowing the varietal brew with this title simply for alliteration. When your body is being beaten down by 90-degree heat regularly, your taste buds don’t yearn for a malty ale, nor do they beg for a deep chocolate stout. Your tongue desires dry acidity in a beer, something with a lower alcohol percentage so you can return to the bartender or fridge again and again. You want a sour.

Now that we’ve discovered your heart’s sour desire, it’s time to figure out what factors contribute to a delicious sour beer. There are two popular methods to brewing sours: 1) the traditional fermenting process with equipment specifically suited for crafting a sour beer and 2) the kettle method, which allows brewers to sour unfermented wort in a few days by introducing a lactobacillus that transforms sugars into lactic acid, providing a tart flavor.

Many breweries handle the process differently. Some operate in two brewhouses to keep sours separate from their regularly offered varietals, and others just take extreme precautions to prevent contamination. Within these processes comes the additions of fruit flavors and other options that create the unique, tangy flavors that help quench thirst while providing a buzz.

Luckily for us, there are a number of breweries offering sours in the area using both techniques, and if you don’t buy what we’re saying about the summer belonging to sours, perhaps you’ll listen to them.

Photo: Rose Collins

Photo: Rose Collins

Bluejacket

Whereas most breweries lean one side or the other as far as the methodology for sours, beer director Greg Engbert says Bluejacket does both. With the need to keep sours on two to three taps at all times, the turnover of kettle sours is helpful. But the brewery still uses a mixed-fermentation, barrel-aged process for select offerings.

“We have a steady stream of delicious sours coming out at all times,” Engbert says. “Recently, we released a cherry-raspberry sour called Eighties Fan, and we also had a limited bottling of Mural, a sour brown ale aged 14 months in Napa Valley Cabernet Franc barrels.”

With this diversity, and the production of other “clean” beers, Engbert says the team at Bluejacket is extremely fastidious in their approach. To him, sour brewing is the most traditional practice when it comes to making beer.

“It embraces yeasts and bacteria known for producing wilder, often acidic flavors not typically associated with the cleaner styles created over the last few hundred years,” he says. “By once again involving some of the wilder flavors born of older forms of fermentation, we are enhancing and expanding the flavor possibility of craft beer today.”

Engbert says that hints of butter, candy corn and Cheerios represent items of flavor you don’t want in your sour, and even though that seems obvious, he assures it’s common.

“We consider a great sour to be one where all flavors are deliciously impactful, yet balanced. We seek to deliver a clean sour: one that is briskly tart, composted and aromatically inviting, with fruit and funk side by side in harmony.”

Bluejacket: 300 Tingey St. SE, DC; www.bluejacketdc.com

Photo: Courtesy of The Bruery

Photo: Courtesy of The Bruery

Bruery Terreux

Bruery Terreux, the sour sister brand of The Bruery, is a brewery in California completely tasked with crafting traditional sours and American wilds. Ethen Adams, the manager at Union Market-based The Bruery Store, says the brand became its own in 2005 when they decided to use two separate facilities to isolate all the diverse bacteria.

“We saw a need after having the experience of an infection issue,” Adams says. “There are a lot of breweries that are still brewing both in the same facility, and it can screw up really good beers. We learned the hard way early on, and since we had the space, we decided to segregate the two.”

This has spurred a friendly competition between Bruery Terreux and The Bruery’s brewhouses, with each offering radically different taprooms on the West Coast.

“The guys at Terreux have been making great sour beers, and figured out some new varieties to level the playing field.”

Nearly all of the sours touch oak at some point at Terreux, Adams says. And a majority of gallons run through their foeder, an 8,000-gallon barrel.

“We like the traditional, historical approach to our sour beers because the microbes take up residence in the wood and the beer sours on its own terms,” he continues. “We feel like there are more complexities and nuance with the traditional method, but a lot of breweries unfortunately don’t have the option.”

Popular Terreux products at The Bruery Store include goses, Berliner weisses and American wild ales.

“Sour and the Rye is an American wild ale, and you’re getting a different level of acidity with those labels,” Adams says. “They’ll still maintain complexities and be very approachable, but the acidity is very high and might pucker a newcomer to sour beers.”

The Bruery Store: 513 Morse St. NE, DC; www.thebruery.com/the-bruery-dc

Photo: Courtesy of Devils Backbone

Photo: Courtesy of Devils Backbone

Devils Backbone

With a Cranberry Gose offered year-round, Devils Backbone doesn’t do too much tinkering when it comes to sour beers. But the ones they do concoct offer a change of pace for the brewery as it shifts the order of operations for a few days, says production brewmaster Joshua French.

“It’s not a hassle,” French says. “We do kettle sours because of the precautions, and it’s interesting because we have to manipulate our one-way system in order to do one. It’s time consuming, because it sits in a mash kettle for 48 hours, and while it sits there you can’t do anything else. You have to rearrange the whole brew house.”

As for the difference between kettle sours and traditional sours, French says it’s generally a personal preference.

“It’s such a divided line in the industry,” he says. “With the kettle, you can take the acidity and start the process there, and it’s very controllable. On the other side, there’s the art and skill of blending different cultures and barrels to achieve the taste you want.”

French is all about the traditional Belgian sours because the taste provides nostalgic feels, but most importantly, he doesn’t want too much meddling in those old-school varietals. Too much of anything in a sour is off-putting.

“I don’t want to drink sour raspberry jam,” he says. “I still want the beer flavor and subtle lactic acid notes. I want subtlety in my sours – that’s what I prefer.”

Devils Backbone brews are carried at various locations throughout the DMV. Go to www.dbbrewingcompany.com for a list of spots to pick them up.

Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub: 200 Mosbys Run, Roseland, VA; www.dbbrewingcompany.com

Photo: Courtesy of Mad Fox

Photo: Courtesy of Mad Fox

Mad Fox Brewing Company

Bill Madden has been brewing sours at the Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church since about 2014, but the first time was a complete accident. After bacteria jumped into a barrel batch of another brew, the team decided to blend and bottle the beer to keep the microscopic invaders from infiltrating the rest of the brewery. In order to sanitize the workspace, Mad Fox painted walls, cleared out the barrels and underwent a sour hiatus.

“Now we’re doing kettle sours because it controls bacteria better,” Madden says. “We’ve been doing that since last year, and we’ve done about half a dozen so far.”

Though he’s only been operating the kettle process for less than a year, Madden says he actively studied the method beforehand to ensure he was comfortable after the sour hiccup in 2014.

“Souring beer goes against everything I learned at brewing school,” he continues. “You’re always taught to keep those bacteria out. But once you invite them in, you have to control it because if they get into everything, it doesn’t fare well for a kölsch beer or pale ale.”

Mad Fox offers a Berliner weisse called the Humdinger year-round, and the brew showcases light stone fruit notes and tartness.

“We were so focused on getting our Berliner weisse right,” Maddens says. “We wanted to get that first one near perfect before we moved onto other sour beers. Patrons are asking for [fruity] versions, such as our cherry sour. I’m taking steps to slowly work through different styles, so we can perfect what we want out of the flavor profile.”

Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 West Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com

Photo: Right Proper

Photo: Right Proper

Right Proper

Right Proper’s Brookland Production House offers four different Berliner weisse sours including Jammy Smears, Convergent Worlds, Vol. 2, and Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne. Using the more traditional method of brewing sours with fermenter tanks and barrels, brewmaster Nathan Zeedner says the strict regimen that brewing sour beers calls is par for the course, as the mainstays haven’t changed radically over the years.

“How I usually explain it is we have one brew house and two breweries within these walls,” Zeedner says. “On certain days, we’re only using specific equipment, and we have it color-coded so we don’t mess up. We use very strict sanitation practices, so we don’t see any carry over. We’re very strict to our fermentation.”

Though the kettle sour method is popular because it requires less equipment such as fermenter tanks, Zeedner feels the taste misses out on the full fermentation process. While the acidity is there in kettle sours, there’s generally less character because of how quick the turnaround is.

“[The traditional method] takes longer, and [with the kettle method], you don’t have to segment equipment,” he continues. “And most people are worried about lactate jumping to other beers. But when we allow for our beers to undergo the longer process, you end up with a really beautiful fermentation character because the flavor compounds.”

Zeedner is proud of Right Proper’s family of Berliner weisse brews, saying the beers offer “a strong fermentation character and a pleasing tartness and dryness.”

Right Proper Brookland Production House: 920 Girard St. NE, DC; www.rightproperbrewing.com


Supplemental Sours

Oh hello, looking to skip the article and just find out where you can score some delicious sour beers near you? Well, we caught you peeking, but don’t feel bad. These delicious brews are worth a trip, and here are a few places in the DMV that will give you your fill.

3 Stars Brewing
With a rotating list and expansive distribution list, 3 Stars mentioned their American wild ales like Ricky Rose and Two Headed Unicorn, and the sour ale Saber Tooth Unicorn. 6400 Chillum Pl. NW, DC; www.3starsbrewing.com

Atlas Brew Works
The Ivy City-based brewery has a canned Blood Orange Gose brewed with blood orange and Himalayan pink salt, and Ugly & Stoned, an American sour with “ugly stone fruit.” 2052 West Virginia Ave. NE, DC; www.atlasbrewworks.com

Brookland Pint, Meridian Pint, and Smoke and Barrel
Beer aficionado Jace Gonnerman – also the beverage director at Brookland Pint, Meridian Pint, and Smoke and Barrel – told On Tap that he gets sours from all over the country. Despite that, and because of the great brewing culture in DC, he’s always rotating beers from local spots as well. For sours, he recommends Right Proper’s Silver Branch Convergent Worlds Vol. 2 and The Bruery’s Tart of Darkness with black currants.
Brookland Pint: 716 Monroe St. NE, DC; www.brooklandpint.com
Meridian Pint: 3400 11th St. NW, DC; www.meridianpint.com
Smoke and Barrel: 2471 18th St. NW, DC; www.smokeandbarreldc.com

City Tap House
In the mood for some variety? City Tap House has a variety of sours on the menu, and you can even partake in multiple at a time with a flight. 901 9th St. NW, DC and 1250 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC
www.citytap.com

Dacha Beer Garden
On the heels of their late-June celebration, Sour Liz, this beer garden is flush with remaining gallons of beer, so hurry before they run out for good. 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

Granville Moore’s
Granville Moore’s carries a variety of big format sours, whether bottled or canned, and routinely have at least one on tap. 1238 H St. NE, DC; www.granvillemoores.com

High Side
High Side offers a variety of sour beers including Old Ox Funky Face Margarita Gose, Collective Arts Gose with blackberry, black currant and lemon zest, and a number of others on draft and in bottles. 4009 Chain Bridge Rd. Fairfax, VA; www.highsideva.com

Roofers Union
Roofers Union in Adams Morgan offers multiple sour beers, including Sierra Nevada’s Otra Vez, Allagash’s Interlude and even a graft cider titled Fields & Flowers. And that’s only a touch of the expansive menu at this spot. 2446 18th St. NW, DC; www.roofersuniondc.com

Photo: Nicholas Karlin
Photo: Nicholas Karlin

What’s On Tap: Church Hall

After taking the dead space leftover from an indoor mall, Georgetown’s newest craft beer spot Church Hall is already turning heads with their robust selection of brews and delectable bar food. Opened in late March, this kind of spot was desperately sought after in the Northwest neighborhood by college students and residents alike. We checked in with assistant general manager Jessica Cooter to see how the new bar was fitting in on Wisconsin Avenue.

On Tap: I noticed a ton of DC beers in your rotating draft list, is that a focus for you guys to maintain a relatively local feel?
Jessica Cooter: We do like to have a focus on local beers, if we can, to highlight what people are doing in the area. That worked out well for us, our rotating menu changes pretty frequently, and some might only last a week or a couple of days. The frequency depends on the availability and how well it’s selling, and what our focus of the month is. Right now, we’re trying to do a bunch of sour beers, so it depends on what we can get and how much we can get.

OT: Being in Georgetown, in the midst of upper class people and college students, is there any difficulty to finding the right balance?
JC: Not really, most people tend to gravitate toward the same sort of selections. The college kids and older folks want to the same kind of things. A really popular order is to get a beer in a liter glass. We do that for our main draft beers, and everyone really likes to grab those. People like the look of them and just the simple fact that you can get a ton of beer at once.

OT: You have a robust craft menu, how much thought did you guys put into the menu when constructing it, and how much input do the patrons have?
JC: We sit down and do research on the kinds of beers we’re looking for. Distributors bring us samples as well, but we do a ton of that independently.

OT: I don’t know of many craft places in Georgetown before. Do you guys feel like you’re filling the craft beer void in the neighborhood?
JC: Hopefully! We like to think we’re filling that void. It’s nice to offer such a wide variety in the neighborhood and it works out for us. We’re happy to be the one fulfilling the need.

OT: How has the response been in the last three months?
JC: I would say it’s been what we expected. We’ve seen happy hour groups come in and people just responding to the look and feel of the space; those things are always nice.

Church Hall: 1070 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.churchhalldc.com


Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s coming up at a few of these fine establishments.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 4

Brau, Brats and Freedom 4th of July Party
Join the crew of DC Brau at Dacha Beer Garden as they celebrate with Brau, Brats and Freedom. DC Brau will be on special and Dacha will be serving up some delicious Fourth of July fare. There will be games in the garden and plenty of chances to win prizes and DC Brau swag. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free to attend. Dacha Beer Garden: 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

City Tap House’s 4th of July Beer-BBQ Battle
The City Tap House patio will feature breweries like 3 Stars Brewing Company, Evolution Craft Brewing Company and the Center of the Universe Brewing who will battle it out while serving up barbecue samples, potato salad and coleslaw. The brewery with the most guest votes will be crowned with the title. For more liquid delight, there will be a la carte frozen John Daly’s and beer floats. City Tap House Penn Quarter: 901 9th St. NW, DC; www.pennquartersportstavern.com

THURSDAY, JULY 5 and THURSDAY, JULY 19

Beer and Board Games at Sugar Shack
A little beer, a little sugar, classic board games and a few of your friends – it’s the perfect casual weeknight hang out every Thursday at Sugar Shack Arlington. On alternating Thursdays they’ll have a new craft brewery in house to talk beer and take over the three taps for two weeks. Flights, pints, beer glazed donut hole pairings and more. 4:30-9 p.m. Free to attend. Sugar Shack Donuts & Coffee: 1014 S. Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA; www.sugarshackdonuts.com

SATURDAY, JULY 7

5th Annual Old Town Pub Crawl at Port City Brewing Company
The annual Pub Crawl returns for the 5th time on the streets of Old Town. The Port City team will be at nine local restaurants, near the Alexandria waterfront, stamping pub crawl passes and handing out swag. Complete your Pub Crawl Pass by 5:30 p.m. and get a limited-edition pint glass. 2-6 p.m. Free to attend. Old Town Pub Crawl: Various locations in Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

MONDAY, JULY 9

A Superbly Off-Centered Beer Dinner at Chatter
Join for a 5-course Dogfish Head Beer Dinner with Calvert Woodley Wines and Spirits. The event includes multiple food items including grilled peach caprese salad, fried green tomatoes, crab benedict, chicken fried short rib and an espresso panna cotta. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets $65. Chatter: 5247 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;
www.chatterdc.com

TUESDAY, JULY 10

The Bluejacket Beer Dinner at Rustico Slaters
On this night, Rustico will offer five exceptional beers from Bluejacket alongside a specially designed menu by Chef de Cuisine Aaron Wright. Don’t miss this opportunity to try some deliciously rare treats from this very special Navy Yard brewery. Greg Engert, beer director for both Bluejacket and Rustico, will be back at Rustico as the host for the evening, sharing stories behind the beers, the brewery and more. 7-9 p.m. Tickets $55. Rustico: 827 Slaters Ln. Alexandria, VA; www.rusticorestaurant.com

FRIDAY, JULY 13 and FRIDAY, JULY 27

Brewmaster Tours Featuring Atlas Brew Works
Includes an hour-long guided tour of the museum and a local craft beer tasting. Receive one beer flight per person, featuring 4 ounce pours of three local beers, and experience the Brewmaster’s Castle with a drink in your hand. After the tour, guests are welcome to mingle in the Conservatory and purchase full beers if they wish. 5-6:30 p.m. Tickets $30. Heurich House Museum: 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC; www.heurichhouse.org

SATURDAY, JULY 14

Mad Fox Brewing Company 8th Anniversary Party
Come join the fun as Mad Fox celebrates eight wonderful years with eight exceptional beers at their Brewpub in Falls Church. In honor of this special occasion, they are releasing some new beers and some rare editions of their favorite beers. There will be live music and the annual Anniversary glass giveaway. Oh, and cake too. 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Free to attend. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 West Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com

TUESDAY, JULY 17

44 Beer Comedy Showcase
With some of the best beer in DC, what’s a better pair than comedy? Well on top of some of the lowest prices for craft beers in DC, during the show, you can also get an additional $1 off every beer. The show features five comedians, each performing 10-minute sets with their best material. 8-10:30 p.m. Tickets $10-$20. The Heights Taproom: 3115 14th St. NW, DC; www.theheightstaproom.com

Taco Beer Dinner at Gordon Biersch
Come join at Gordon Biersch Rockville for a taco beer dinner. They’ll be pairing limited-release tacos that you won’t find on the menu with a curated selection of in-house beers. 6-8 p.m. Ticket information available soon. Gordon Biersch: 200 E. Middle Ln. Rockville, MD; www.gordonbiersch.com

THURSDAY, JULY 19

Brew at the Zoo
Drink beer, save wildlife! Join friends of the National Zoo at DC’s best beer festival. Enjoy great times and great brews with unlimited beer tastings from more than 70 breweries, exotic animal encounters, live music and entertainment, and fare from popular food trucks – it’s a unique after-hours zoo experience. Proceeds benefit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s mission to save species. 6-9 p.m. Tickets $65. Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute: 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.nationalzoo.si.edu

THURSDAY, JULY 19

Yoga, Beer and BBQ at the Backyard Barbecue
Hill Country Barbecue Market is excited to revive the Backyard Barbecue, a summer pop-up at the National Building Museum (5th and F Streets). Backyard Barbecue is the place to chow down on authentic central Texas-style barbecue and enjoy live music. Enjoy a one-hour yoga class suitable for all levels, followed by a pint of beer from DC Brau, and dinner from Hill Country Barbecue. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets $20. National Building Museum: 401 F St. NW, DC; www.nbm.org

SUNDAY, JULY 22

Shark Week Paint and Brew
Kick off Shark Week with a flight of four beers and follow step-by-step instructions to complete a Shark Week-themed painting. All supplies will be provided. 1-3 p.m. Tickets $35. Forge Brew Works: 8532 Terminal Rd. Lorton, VA; www.forgebrewworks.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 25

Maryland Blue Crab Feast at Mad Fox Brewing Company
Say hello to summer by enjoying a family style all-you-can-eat Crab feast. Happy Hour pricing will be extended until 9 p.m. for the special occasion. Menu includes all you can eat Maryland blue crabs steamed in Mad Fox beer and Old Bay, butter poached corn on the cob, panzanella salad and famous Old Bay potato chips. 6:30-10 p.m. Tickets $55. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com

SATURDAY, JULY 28

Riverside Beer Garden Silent Disco
Nestled between the Anacostia River and Nationals Park, home to the Washington Nationals, is the Bardo Brewery. This riverside beer garden in the Navy Yard district is about to be taken over, quietly. In true Quiet Events fashion, there will be three DJ’s creating the soundtrack to your night and hundreds of party-goers drinking and jiving. Come out, grab a beer (or several) and party under the bridge. 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. Tickets $5-$20. Bardo Brewing: 25 Potomac Ave. SE, DC; www.bardo.beer

Photo: Courtesy of Sababa
Photo: Courtesy of Sababa

Fired Up For National Grilling Month

On any given day in July, you can walk pretty much anywhere in the District and sniff out the smoky aroma of grilled brisket, hot dogs or corn on the cob. Summer heat is nearing its highest this month, but the grill is even hotter.

It’s National Grilling Month, and if you haven’t yet been invited to a backyard barbecue or don’t feel like you have the expertise to do it yourself, there are plenty of new spots in the DMV that offer that satisfying, charred taste with unique flavors and even some smoked-to-perfection vegetables.

Take Cleveland Park-based restaurant Sababa’s pomegranate marinade, for example. The seeds drip a tart yet sweet red juice once bitten into. This juice is combined with labne, a thick yogurt, to douse Sababa’s salmon kebabs. The labne “insulates the salmon from the heat from the griddle, [creating] a crust so that the salmon can stay moist,” says Ryan Moore, executive chef of the newly opened spot.

Moore, who’s been formally trained in Middle Eastern cuisine, uses pomegranate to sweeten the fish. Sababa’s Israeli-inspired menu includes the fruit in multiple dishes, like their chicken liver, which the chef is always encouraging more visitors to try.

“It’s one of those things that most people get squeamish about,” he says. “I sweeten them with pomegranate molasses so they have this amazing, amazing flavor.”

Moore recommends folding the rich liver into Sababa’s soft pita for a DIY sandwich with a hummus spread he makes in-house himself every day.

“I will not relinquish that [recipe] to any of my cooks. I am very proud of my hummus.”
Smoking Kow BBQ, open since April, tries to keep a sweet and savory flavor combination in their barbecued meats.

“We use a few unusual ingredients in our spice rub that accentuate the sweet notes while contrasting with the robust flavors of brisket and pork,” owner Dylan Kough says.

The food truck turned Duke Street brick and mortar’s signature spice includes cinnamon and chipotle powder.
“I definitely prefer a bit more complexity,” he says.

Kough adds that the moist brisket and baby back ribs are the two most popular meats on the menu right now.

“Don’t be afraid to eat brisket fat! It’s my favorite part of the cuisine.”

Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster BBQ in Old Town Alexandria also boasts fast-selling black angus beef brisket and baby back ribs. The restaurant uses the four-time World Barbeque Champion’s techniques – known as the “Mixon Method” – for consistent smoked flavors. Their water smoker is fueled only by wood, with a fast-burning fire for a cleaner smoked flavor.

Along with using the same award-winning rubs and sauces Mixon uses during competitions, the pitmasters wrap the meat “once they have taken on the desired smoke flavor and color,” according to pitmaster John Bennett.

“If you’re not wrapping, then you’re not winning.”

Another technique for flavorful meat is to soak some of them in brine before being smoked.

“The brine helps with locking in the flavor of the meat, keeping it moist and allowing for a deeper smoke ring,” Bennett adds.

The materials chefs use to grill meat impact flavors, too. Momo Yakitori, a new Japanese barbecue joint in Northeast DC’s Woodridge neighborhood, primarily serves grilled chicken (yakitori) smoked over binchotan charcoal.

Binchotan “burns at a higher temperature,” says chef and co-owner Andrew Chiou.

“The charcoal itself doesn’t smoke up. The way they make it, they take a lot more of the impurities out of it. It’s more about quick cooking rather than the slow methods. It’s definitely not like Texas flavors.”

Vegetarians dining with their meat-loving friends won’t miss out. Momo Yakitori’s menu has a vegetables subsection grilled with the same high-heat, smoky flavor. Chiou and co-owner Masako Morishita work closely with farms like Hickory Ridge in Columbia, Maryland to grow mushrooms more optimal for the grill.

“Our shiitake mushrooms are almost twice the thickness of normal shiitake mushrooms,” says Chiou, adding that the farm also increased the water content for their oyster mushrooms. “Because we work with them so closely, we get really great vegetables that are very suited for our style of grilling, which is really high temperature. Most vegetables just burn up normally.”

Federalist Pig’s “Faux Que” sandwich (pronounced like the letter “Q,” not like the Spanish “que”) lets their smoked veggies shine as a main dish as well. The BLT version of this vegetarian sandwich is stuffed with delectably smoked tofu along with heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, vegan pimento cheese and a vegetarian bacon-like ingredient.

Owner Rob Sonderman says that in any big city, there’s almost a 100 percent chance that at least one of your friends will be vying for a vegetarian option when dining out in a group.

“A lot of the time, they’re going to be the one who’s going to be making that make or break decision on where they end up going,” he says. “Having options for those people to be able to get that whole group in is really why we wanted to have more expansive options.”

The BLT is just one of many iterations of the Faux Que, which changes every week or two. Other fillings include smoked portobello mushrooms, shredded jackfruit and smoked spaghetti squash, which imitates the texture of pulled meat.

Whatever your stomach desires, you’ll want to venture to some new barbecue pits for National Grilling Month. Maybe even order some to-go and impress everyone at your summer party. After the compliments flood in, you can let them know about the local grilling establishment that deserves a second taste.

Learn more about these grilling spots below.

Federalist Pig: 1654 Columbia Rd. NW, DC; www.federalistpig.com
Momo Yakitori: 2214 Rhode Island Ave. NE, DC; www.momoyakitori.com
Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster BBQ: 220 N. Lee St. Alexandria, VA; www.myronmixonspitmasterbbq.com
Sababa: 3311 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.sababauptown.com
Smoking Kow BBQ: 3250 Duke St. Alexandria, VA; www.smokingkowbbq.com


Grill and BBQ Picks

DCity Smokehouse
With delivery available via Amazon, you can order a family platter (rib tips, brisket, smoked chicken wings and three large sides) for your next house party. 203 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.dcitysmokehouse.com

District BBQ
Try a specialty sandwich like the Okie Joe, stuffed with smoked beef and pork, and chopped and layered under a tangy sauce. 2670 Avenir Pl. Vienna, VA; www.districtbbq.com

Hill Country Barbecue Market
Treat yourself to their tender brisket and Texas pecan pie for dessert. 410 7th St. NW, DC; www.hillcountry.com

Garden District
Come for the satisfying smoked meat in their sandwiches and grab a seat at the beer garden while you’re there to try one of their brews. 1801 14th St. NW, DC; www.gardendistrictdc.com

NuVegan Café
Their natural ingredients are meant to satisfy the soul. Don’t miss their totally vegan barbecue roast served with rice. 2928 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.ilovenuvegan.com

Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company
Don’t be afraid of The Belly Buster – the ribs, sausage, quarter chicken, brisket and potato roll are worth sampling, or sharing with a buddy. Various locations in DC and VA; www.rocklands.com

Sloppy Mama’s
This food truck doesn’t go small – their meat plates come with two sides. Try the barbecued chicken or the beef or pork plate, served with vegan “Happy Chana” and soft cornbread. www.sloppymamas.com

Smoke & Barrel
Vegans, don’t feel left out. Their vegan sampler includes vegan wings and spare ribs, and sides include vegan coleslaw and chili. 2471 18th St. NW, DC; www.smokeandbarreldc.com

Texas Jack’s Barbecue
Add any of their smoked pulled meats to the Two-Door ‘87 Cutlass Supreme Nachos for a delectably cheesy meal with classic Texas flavors. 2761 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.txjacks.com

Yechon
Share a plate of Korean BBQ and shrimp tempura at this 24-hour, Japanese-Korean fusion spot. 4121 Hummer Rd. Annandale, VA; www.yechon.com