May 13th, 2008

kittens

Museum of the American Cocktail dinner at Proof details

Let's see what I can knock out here as I try to fall asleep...

If you followed the Twitter feed you saw the order things happened.  I had a bit of Drambuie and left my house at around 5:30-ish (having to come back twice for my iPod headphones and my Scofflaw's Den cards, respectively).  I got down to Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro around 6-ish, where I called tmfiii and arranged to meet him at PS7.

At PS7 I had a vanilla sidecar (very good) and a gomme de guerre, described as a rich cousin to the margarita but not one I was a huge fan of tonight.  Marshall had a lavender gimlet - as I knew he would - and a vanilla sidecar.  Both were very tasty.

Off to Proof.  There was a bit of a line at the door and we had a chance to chat with Jake Parrot, local distributor extraordinaire, and Heather, whom we had met at the rhum tasting at Bourbon.

Once inside we were immediately shuffled off to the right where we got to try the PaRappa the Rapper Punch - yes, you heard it right, a punch named after a video game.  It was invented by Adam Bernbach of Bar Pilar who had a much longer name for it.  It was Tommy Bahama gold gum, strawberry, szechuan pepper & tonka bean syrup, lime juice, tarragon and strawberry puree, and Peychaud bitters.

As we gnoshed on appies and talked to people we moved on to the Lady Randolph's Revenge.  Legend had it that Churchill's wife (if I remember correctly) would order Manhattans but only for the cherries.  This was Woodford Reserve bourbon, homemade bing cherry and Madagascar vanilla vermouth, Luxardo maraschino, Fee Bros. whiskey barrel aged bitters, and maraschino espuma, made up by John Hogan of Hudson Lounge.

We moved on and got a chance to talk briefly with the legendary Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve, PX, and Majestic.  By this point I'd grabbed a Zenzero Apertivo by Chantel Tseng of Tabard Inn, a mixture of sparkling wine, Caravella lemoncello, ginger syrup, and a dash of absinthe, with a a candy structure of ginger in it.

We went on to try to talk to Gina from EatBar but she was busy, but we did meet a friend of hers and had a good time hanging out with her (I'm not certain how to spell her name, I believe it was Kiljay).  Next we had a Tarragon Gin Fizz, from Justin Guthrie of Central Michel Richard, and that was tarragon-infused Hendrick's Gin, lemon juice, a Georgian beverage called Natakhtari Tarragon Soda, and some Fee Bros. lemon bitters.  I could've drank tons of this one.

The last drink in the appetizer course was the Puffin du Velay by Rico Wisner of Poste Modern Brasserie.  It was Reyka vodka, fresh sour mix with agave syrup, Vervaine du velay, and sparkling wine.  I also around this point got to meet Don Rockwell, whom I'd always considered more of a force of nature rather than the very nice and gracious guy I got to talk with briefly.  Hopefully that doesn't break any mysterious Interweb personas out there. (grin)

It was time to sit and we sat with two very nice ladies to talk the night away.  The first course was chilled seafood and hearts of palm cocktail, almost like a cold soup.  It was served with Todd Thrasher's "The Dr. Who Cocktail", made of Machu Pisco, celery and jicama soda, and homemade celery bitters.  While perhaps an odd combination it worked very well and also very well with the food.

The second course was sake glazed salmon with pickled honshimenji mushrooms, local asparagus, and tamari-radish emulsion.  With it was a Hibiscus Fizz from Derek M. Brown of Komi - Finlandia vodka infused with hibiscus, rose hips, and orange peel, yuzu and lemon juices, topped with soda.  I really dug this drink and food.  Both were excellent on their own but together they just sang!

Next was braised Shenandoah lamb with spring pea-tarragon risotto and grilled ramps.  On its own, this was one of the most amazing dishes I've ever had.  It was served with Gina Chersevani's (of EatBar) Cereza la Fuma, a drink made with Milagro silver tequila, Lillet Rouge, Cherrywood Smoked White Pepper Meringue, Agave Nectar, Lime Juice, and topped with Fleur de Sel.  The drink was definitely peppery and paired fine with the food though at least one person at our table, despite her love of spirits, wished for a glass of wine with the amazing lamb.

The next dish was simple but - wow.  Cheese.  Four different kinds of cheese, I couldn't tell you what they were, but if someone could tell me please do because the two on the outside (the blue cheese and the other) just blew my pathetic taste buds away.  It was served with Sebastian Zutant's (from the hosting restaurant, Proof) "Medicine Man" aka "Sebby Potter and the Teeming Cauldron of Booze".  Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Blandy's Madeira, Lillet Rouge, Lustau East India Sherry, Fee Bros. whiskey barrel aged bitters, garnished with an armagnac and port soaked (for, like, 3 weeks) prune.

As the kids would say "OMGWTFBBQ".  This drink, especially with those cheeses, was flat out amazing.  This course was worth the price of admission right there.

Finally, dessert was a strawberry & pink peppercorn shortcake with creme fraiche and honey lavender ice cream.  Honestly, the dessert let me down a bit after the previous course and I was pretty full at this point.  The accompanying drink wasn't bad, and worked well with it, though.  It was a Truffled Amaro Flip by Tom Brown of Cork - Korbel brandy, Ramazzotti Amaro, egg whites, lemon juice, truffle oil, and Jerry Thomas Decanter bitters.  This led to a great sight of all those amazing mixologists shaking tons and tons of shakers of the drink.

All in all this was an amazing event.  If you didn't make it, you really missed out.  I headed out fairly quickly to grab a train and got to say hi to Derek Brown of Komi, who said he wanted to grab a drink some time, and his brother Fritz (edit: see comments, as I'm a dumbass).  I grabbed my swag bag which had a bottle opener from Finlandia, a pen from Tommy Bahama, a mini of Hendrick's gin, a couple of cards from Proof, and a black t-shirt from Finlandia that said "Bartenders are gods".  Unfortunately, I can't wear a large, so I gave it to a blonde cop from LA that we met at Metro Center who used to be a bartender.  Hey, it'll look better on her...

I can't say how much of a great time I had.  I'm still jacked and keyed up, and I need to sleep.  So it's back to my scotch and desperately trying to sleep.  My cat will be happy once I do.

AND HEY - if y'all were there tonight, give a shout in the comments and say hi!  Tonight was a great example of how awesome the cocktail community in DC is!
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