All Cocktails is Local

On Tuesday, January 13th, the Museum and Rock Creek Restaurant (Mazza Gallerie, in Friendship Heights, D.C.) staged a great cocktail seminar titled “All Cocktails is Local – Presidential and Political Cocktails Through American History. About 40 attendees were on hand to learn about, and taste, what past presidents and politicians were drinking back in the day.

Phil Greene and Derek Brown were joined by two distinguished guests, Rock Creek’s own Hall of Fame bartender Nick Wineriter and Mount Vernon’s Dennis Pogue. Nick not only assisted in the serving of the evening’s offerings, but he presented the Bronx Cocktail, which featured in something of a scandal during the presidential term of William Howard Taft (he apparently had Bronx cocktails served at a breakfast reception in St. Louis!). Dennis Pogue, a historian and curator with Mount Vernon, offered a fascinating presentation on George Washington’s successful post-White House career making whiskey (!), and described how archaeologists not only unearthed the remnants of Washington’s rye whiskey distillery at Mount Vernon, but they rebuilt an exact working replica in its place.

Phil Greene and Derek Brown were the main emcees of the evening, delivering a compelling PowerPoint show taking you from the first origins of the word cocktail (which first appeared in a newspaper account of, what else, an election), how alcohol was a popular electioneering tool in early American history, the origins of the term “lobbying,” and how so many colorful Americanisms arose from the crossroads of politics and potent potables.

Derek delved into the history of the fabled D.C. saloon known as Shoomaker’s (located were the J.W. Marriott now stands, near 14th and E Streets, NW), and told the story of the classic drink reportedly born there, the Rickey. While patrons sipped a Whiskey Rickey (see recipes, below), Derek told of its creator, a lobbyist, by the name of “Colonel” Joe Rickey, and his life and times.

Phil discussed other political cocktails, such as the Ward Eight, which was created by the “Boston Mahatma,” political boss Martin Lomasney, who’s trademark mantra was “Never write when you can speak, never speak when you can nod, never nod when you can wink.” They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore (notwithstanding the events currently underway in the Great State of Illinois).

Phil also skimmed over a number of other presidential and political tales:

  • How Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill both loved a Plymouth Gin Martini, sometimes to the chagrin of Eleanor!
  • That Harry Truman was a bourbon whiskey man (he was tossin’ ‘em back when he learned he’d become President!)
  • How Wilbur Mills’ career came to an abrupt, and watery end at the Tidal Basin, after a night of imbibing;
  • How Ike and LBJ both loved scotch whiskey and soda;
  • And that Pat Nixon was a Jack Daniel’s gal.

Phil also discussed how the Daiquiri was tied to three presidents, and told of how that drink was reportedly invented, and then brought to Washington’s Army and Navy Club in1909. But of those presidents, it was John F. Kennedy who sipped daiquiris while awaiting the election results in November of 1960.

History did not dominate the evening, however, the evening began with a brand new Domaine de Canton cocktail inspired by and invented for the Presidential Inauguration, and served at the Peace Ball on Inauguration Day. Invented and named by acclaimed D.C. bartender Gina Chersevani of PS7, the YES WE CANTON! was an immediate hit, and even caught the fancy of Washington Post cocktail columnist Jason Wilson, who covered the event here:

The last drink covered and served that evening was the Mai Tai, and attendees learned not only of its rich history, but how Richard Nixon was something of a Tiki buff; he loved Trader Vic’s, Navy Grog and the Mai Tai especially.

The audience didn’t want to go home at the conclusion of the show, and Phil, Derek, Nick and Dennis fielded questions for about an hour thereafter. It was a great evening, and yet another sign that D.C. is firmly established as a cocktail mecca!

Recipes:

 

The Whiskey Rickey

Take half a lime and squeeze it into a highball glass, fill with ice, and add about 2 ounces of bourbon whiskey. Fill the glass with 2-4 ounces of Apollonaris mineral water.

The Ward Eight Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 ounces Maker’s Mark bourbon or (ri)1 rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice
  • 1 tsp grenadine

Shake well with ice, serve in chilled cocktail glass.

Bronx Cocktail

  • 2 ounces Plymouth gin
  • 1/4 ounce Noilly Prat sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 ounce Noilly Prat dry vermouth
  • 1 ounce fresh orange juice
  • orange bitters
  • orange twist garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Daiquiri

  • 1-1/2 to 2 ounces Mount Gay silver rum
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Depaz Cane syrup

Shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass, sugaring the rim is optional

Mai Tai

  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz orange Curacao
  • 1/4 oz sugar syrup
  • 1/4 oz orgeat syrup
  • 1 oz Mount Gay Eclipse dark rum
  • 1 oz Depaz Amber rum agricole

Shake well with crushed ice, pour into glass with ice, garnish with sprig of mint

Navy Grog

“Into a cocktail shaker pour 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice, 1/2 ounce grapefruit juice, 3/4 ounce allspice syrup, and 1 ounce each dark Jamaican rum and Demerara rum. Shake well with lots of crushed ice and pour into a double old-fashioned glass.”

King Edward VII’s Coronation Cocktail

    • 1 ounce Applejack
    • 1 ounce dry vermouth
    • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
    • 1 dash apricot liqueur

Ward Eight

    • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
    • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
    • 1/2 ounce orange juice
    • 1 tsp grenadine

Yes We Canton
(created and named by Gina Chersevani of PS7 in Washington, DC)

  • 1/2 oz of pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
  • 2 oz of Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1 wedge of pineapple

In a champagne flute, pour the Domaine de Canton, pineapple juice, and the top with Champagne, and garnish with a pineapple wedge.

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One Response to All Cocktails is Local

  1. Florrie says:

    Great cocktail seminar..that really sounds great! ^-^

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