(Kara Newman is the author of "Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling
cocktails", available <here
> . The opinions expressed are her own.)
NEW YORK Jan 10 As a presidential election
year, for many Americans 2012 is all about politics.
This is especially true in Washington, D.C. - a city all
about politics, all the time. Even the drinks reference
Derek Brown, co-owner of The Passenger (passengerdc.com/)
and Columbia Room (here) -
and self-described "drinking expert" -prescribes an itinerary
for visiting tipplers.
The first stop: Dupont Circle, and particularly the Tabard
"It's named after the place in Canterbury Tales where
travellers would meet up and drink," Brown says. "So it's very
In addition to "amazing cocktails" in a "quaint" setting,
it's also home to one of the only pictures of America's first
president, George Washington, without his famous white powdered
wig. ("He looks like Martha Washington," Brown jokes.)
Also in the centre of town, enjoy a Scotch among the suits
at the Round Robin Bar (bit.ly/bwvkzH) at the Willard
Point of trivia: Supposedly, the word "lobbyist" was
invented here in the early 1870s, when President Ulysses S.
Grant complained about "those damned lobbyists." (Some dispute
this point, but it still makes for mighty fine drinking
And at the JW Marriott (bit.ly/ZGrz5), order a
Rickey: It was invented here in 1883, in the former Shoomaker's
Bar. Last year it was named D.C.'s official cocktail.
"D.C. is one of the only cities that has an official
cocktail," Brown proudly states. "New Orleans has the Sazerac
and D.C. has the Rickey."
Next, head over to the 14th and U Street corridor for jazz
and "local colour." Here, Brown's pick is The Gibson (thegibsondc.com/),
with its unmarked door and high-end speakeasy charm.
Finally, Brown advises heading to the Penn Quarter area for
a final dose of cocktailing. In addition to his own popular bar,
Passenger, and its tiny Japanese-style 10-seat annex Columbia
Room, Brown also recommends Proof (proofdc.com/) across
from the National Gallery, and PS7
Both are restaurants rather than standalone bars - and
that's a plus. Indeed, Brown cites Proof for "the best spaghetti
and meatballs of my life."
Meanwhile, at PS7 keep an eye out for bartender Gina
Chersevani, who has received national recognition for her
creative cocktails. Look for cutting-edge ingredients such as
vinegar-spiked shrubs, pickled long beans and "salted ice."
Food editor Ruth Reichl once quipped that Americans only get
to vote for their president once every four years, but can
"vote" regarding food choices three times a day, at every meal.
I'd say that extends to cocktail choices too. So I'll invoke
an old tongue-in-cheek election saw for D.C.-bound tipplers:
"Vote" early - and often.
RECIPE: THE RICKEY
This is Washington D.C.'s official cocktail, named after
Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey. Although the original
version was made with bourbon, a gin-based Rickey is infinitely
2 ounces gin or bourbon
1 lime half
Sparkling mineral water
Pour gin or bourbon into a highball glass. Squeeze in the juice
of the lime half, and drop the spent lime hull into the glass.
Add ice, stir, and top up with sparkling mineral water.
(Created by Paul Casciato)