The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture
Sips in whiter shades of pale are in vogue for summer starting Memorial Day Weekend
With 16 pages of wines and the largest Champagne selection in the Washington, DC area, chef Robert Wiedmaier’s fine dining flagship Marcel’s is a go-to for vinos. This season, sommelier Moez Ben-Achour suggests a sparkling Billecart-Salmon, Brut Réserve, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, France [NV]. Known for its elegance and bright, tangy acidity, it’s characterized by fruit-forward flavors with hints of ginger and kumquat.
In a neighborhood with a name that speaks volumes on the summer heat, Burger, Tap & Shake in DC’s Foggy Bottom offers “Shaketails” [spiked milkshakes] kept just below freezing to keep residents comfortable. Slow-churned daily and made entirely from scratch, just like its house-made burgers, the Talladega Nights has guests thanking “Dear Lord Baby Jesus” for its invigorating mix of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, House-made Limoncello, Vanilla Ice Cream & Lemon Juice.
At chef Jeff Tunks’ iconic seafood institution DC Coast, in downtown DC, locals and tourists alike can duck inside the serene deco spot for a martini with a choice of nearly 100 vodkas. Staying cool and collected [without getting three sheets to the wind!], the K Street Martini brings smooth sailing and solace from the DC heat with Yacht Club Vodka, White Grape Juice & Iced Grape Garnish.
The innovative “Island Cocktails” at RW Restaurant Group’s new Urban Heights in Bethesda, MD evoke flavors of the Far East with an intensely craft approach. These concoctions—like the Rising Sun with Sake, Pineapple Jalapeño Chutney, Lime & Cilantro—are made to complement the exotic cuisine by chef Cliff Wharton or stand alone for sipping on the rooftop “Lotus Lounge.”
PassionFish in Reston, VA [second location coming to Bethesda, MD late summer 2015] pours a cocktail that mixes the quintessential ingredients of the season with the Aqua Verde – a cooling fusion of Hendricks Gin, St. Germaine and house-made Cucumber Simple Syrup.
Before there were rules on appropriate times of day to drink, Charles Nelson, founder of the fifth registered distillery in Nashville, TN, was sporting his white linen suit and selling the finest Tennessee White Whiskey. Distilled from corn, wheat and barley then charcoal-mellowed, the fifth-generation grandsons, Charlie and Andy Nelson, use the original recipe that established this brand over a century ago. This revival by Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is clear white and smooth, straight from the “Miss Louisa” still.
Milk Punch has been a classic cocktail at Brennan’s, the New Orleans, LA icon for over 69 years — and with its recent re-launch, the establishment has put a new spin on this white sensation with their Caribbean Milk Punch. Fresh Madagascar Vanilla Beans infuse Simple Syrup and the hand-grated Nutmeg garnish adds an aromatic essence of cedar wood. Farm fresh Cream sets the stage on which all the flavors come together. This tropical twist pays tribute to the city’s Banana republic characteristics and influence.
In San Antonio, TX, the drams at chef Steve McHugh’s Cured reflect his from-scratch methodology. Ideal for the white-hot heat, McHugh recommends his Nineteen 75 – a spin on a French75 [the name nods to his personal year of “vintage”] with Gin, Rhubarb, Lemon Vanilla and splash of Prosecco. House-bottled Cocktail Soda Pops debut after Memorial Day. Look for effervescent pops like Vanilla-Mint Vodka Crush.