More Big Doings in D.C.

Washington, D.C. has historically been one of the country’s great drinking cities. From the founding fathers to jazz, the District has been home to meritorious drinking establishments, distinguished bartenders and a few famous tipplers. We even have our own homegrown cocktail category named after one, the Rickey (named for its inventor, 19th century lobbyist Colonel Joseph “Joe” Rickey).
Unfortunately, in past years the District has only had pockets of creative people working at a revival of craft bartending. That has all changed in the last year and the revival has fully arrived. Seventy-five years after prohibition, when the District lost some 3,000 bartenders and some of its legendary establishments like nationally renowned Schoomaker’s, craft bartending culture is back again.
Not only have there been a bevy of bars opening with top-notch bartenders, and a deepening interest in some of our already great establishments like nearby PX, but our city was recently (December 5th) host to the largest Repeal Day Ball in the country with over 300 people attending in era-appropriate costumes being served by national and local greats like Tony Abou-Ganim and Todd Thrasher.

Washington has also seen some other notable bartenders pass through the city this year, including Charlotte Voisey, who judged D.C.’s annual Rickey contest, that pits city bartenders against each other in creating the best updated version of a Rickey. Other notables include Wall Street Journal "How’s Your Drink?" columnist Eric Felten, H. Joseph Erhmann, Tad Carducci, Ryan Magarian, Simon Ford, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Lenell Smothers, Fernando Castellon, Erin Williams, Stefan Trummer (who will be opening a new restaurant in nearby Clifton, VA), Eric Seed, and Elba Giron, to name a few, who have paid a visit to the Nation’s Capital to check out the revival.
Locally, the DC Craft Bartending Guild ( has been at the center of that revival and has experienced tremendous growth in its six short months of existence. From Rickey Month to the Repeal Day Ball, the Guild has thrown some amazing parties that heighten the prestige of craft bartending. Additionally, The Guild played a key role in organizing a World Cocktail Week celebration that raised nearly $5000 for the Museum. The Guild has also created numerous educational opportunities, including a rum seminar with Ed Hamilton and a bitters seminar with herbalist Bevin Clare. The Guild has also held many socials and are currently gearing up for a busy year.

While craft bartending culture has arrived so has the return of glamour to politics in the city. Of course, they go hand in hand. Remember Kennedy and Camelot, when the daiquiri was a real daiquiri? The new administration promises to make D.C. one of the most exciting cities in the country and the craft bartending culture here is ready to match that enthusiasm and revive D.C.’s glory as a drinking city.

As noted above, recent events have more than bolstered Washington, D.C.’s position as a mecca in the cocktail world.

Holiday Cocktails in the Nation’s Capital! Tuesday, December 9

On Tuesday, December 9th, the Museum of the American Cocktail continued its monthly seminar program in Washington, D.C., and hosted a seminar titled “Classic Holiday Cocktails in the Nation’s Capital,” at Bourbon (, a great restaurant in Adams-Morgan, N.W. The seminar was generously sponsored by Cointreau, Depaz Martinique Rhum Agrigole, Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, and Mount Gay Rums of Barbados.

Over the course of the 90 minute seminar, Derek Brown (the Museum’s D.C. Ambassador), Owen Thomson (bartender and manager at Bourbon) and Phil Greene presented the following drinks, and not only discussed their histories, but also how to make them at home

  • Dale DeGroff’s Ritz Cocktail, a tribute to the Ritz Hotels of Paris and Madrid;
  • The Tom and Jerry (using Jerry Thomas’ 1862 recipe);
  • Glogg, a hot, spiced wine from Scandanavia;
  • Vino Navegado, a delicious spiced wine based Holiday punch;
  • Baltimore Egg Nog (using a variation on Harry Johnson’s 1882 recipe);
  • The Mojito, and;
  • A new variation, the Holiday Mojito.

They also offered a great recipe for Hot Buttered Rum, created by Justin Guthrie of Central Michel Richard (

Phil Shaking

Derek and the Ritz

Erin Passing Appetizers

Derek, Owen and Phil were ably assisted by Cointreau’s U.S. mixologist and Brand Ambassador Erin Williams, who also spoke about the use of Cointreau in classic cocktails. The recipes follow:

The Ritz Cocktail
Original Recipe by Dale DeGroff, presented by Phil Greene

  • 1 oz Martell’s Medallion VSOP Cognac
  • ½ oz Cointreau
  • ¼ oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • ¼ oz fresh lemon juice
  • Champagne
  • Garnish with flamed orange peel

To make one, shake the Cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, then top with chilled Champagne. To make a batch, multiply first four ingredients by the number of drinks you’d like to make, stir well in a pitcher, then strain into chilled cocktail glasses, about one-third full each. Top each with chilled Champagne.

The Tom and Jerry
Original recipe by Jerry Thomas, presented by Phil Greene

For the batter:

  • 12 fresh eggs, separated
  • 3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 ounces Depaz Blue Cane Amber Rhum Agricole

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks well, adding the sugar while beating.  In a separate bowl, beat the whites until the peaks are stiff.  Add the spices and rum to the yolks.  Mix in the stiff whites and stir until the mixture is the consistency of a light batter.  (1 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1/4 of bicarbonate of soda will prevent the sugar from settling to the bottom of the batter).

For the drink:

  • 2 tablespoons of batter
  • 1 1/2 ounces Martell’s cognac
  • 1/2 ounce Depaz Blue Cane Amber Rhum Agricole
  • 3 or 4 ounces boiling water
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for dusting

Add batter to a pre-heated ceramic mug.  Add the spirits and the boiling water and stir.  Dust with nutmeg and serve.

Glögg (1898 version)

  • 181 liters Wine Blend mixed from full-bodied red wine, fortified wine and Port wine cask sediment.
  • 188 liters Cognac
  • 64 liters Sherry
  • 90 kilos Sugar
  • 425 grams Cinnamon
  • 260 grams Cardamom
  • 250 grams Bitter Almond
  • 6 kilos Raisins
  • 100 pods Vanilla

Glögg (2008 version)
Presented by Derek Brown

  • 1 bottle of full-bodied red wine
  • 1/2 cup Aquavit
  • 1 tsp. crushed cardamom seeds
  • 2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup almonds — blanched
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  1. Bring wine to boil.
  2. Tie spices and zest in a cheesecloth bag
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add in almonds, sugar and raisins; cook for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add in Aquavit.
  6. Stir, and remove spices.
  7. Serve hot in a mug.

Baltimore Egg Nog
Inspired by the recipe by Harry Johnson, presented by Owen Thomson (amount in parentheses is for making a large batch)

  • 2oz Madeira (40oz)
  • 1oz Martell’s Medallion Cognac (20oz)
  • 1oz Mount Gay Dark Rum (20oz)
  • 1 Whole Egg (20 eggs)
  • 1/2 Cup milk (10cups)
  • 1/2 tsp powdered sugar (10tsp)
  • Nutmeg

Vino Navegado
presented by Owen Thomson

  • 5 liters Red Wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 oranges cut into slice
  • Cinnamon Sticks (8-10)
  • Allspice (2 Tbsp)
  • Clove (1 Tbsp)

Hot Buttered Rum
By Justin Guthrie

  • 32 ounces water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 1 stick butter
  • Mount Gay Dark Rum
  • Whipped cream

Glass: Footed mug

Combine water, sugar and spices in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer until sugar has dissolved. Maintain a low simmer for fifteen minutes to allow flavors to develop. Bring down heat to low/medium low and add butter. Allow butter to melt.

Preheat mug by filling with hot water and letting stand for 1 minute.

Dump water and add 1.5 ounces of rum. Ladle 3.5 ounces butter/spice tea into mug and stir to combine with rum. Top with whipped cream.

The Classic Mojito

  • 1 1/2 oz Mount Gay White Rum or Depaz Rhum Agricole
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 Depaz Cane Syrup (or simple syrup)
  • 6 mint leaves

Shake vigorously w/ice, strain into tall glass filled w/ice, top w/seltzer, garnish w/mint sprig

The Holiday Mojito
By Phil Greene

  • 1 1/2 oz Mount Gay White Rum or Depaz Rhum Agricole
  • 1 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 6-10 ripe cranberries
  • 6 mint leaves

Shake vigorously w/ice, strain into tall glass filled w/ice, top w/seltzer, garnish w/powdered sugar-frosted mint sprig

Photos courtesy Jody Kurash, Ross Lee Tabak, Nick Wineriter, Phil Greene, Niyati Shah

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