Tag Archives: drinks

The Black Pearl

So, it’s been a while, how’ve you been? I took a much-needed hiatus from food blogging for a bit while I sorted a few things out, but there will be more about that later.

I also had to take a bit of a break from… calories. The boy and I have been doing our best to watch what we eat, get a bit more exercise and try to shed a few pounds. Unfortunately, this meant that I would have to cut back on something I love: booze. No more pitchers of martinis for me! Instead enjoying one or two drinks every few nights is a more conducive habit to good fitness goals. I wouldn’t cut drinking out completely, but applying a bit of moderation didn’t hurt.

Still, it had been a while since I’d come up with anything new on the bar and I decided that the result of my next set of cocktail experiments should reflect my “mourning period” and be colored an appropriate shade of black. Thing is, it is amazingly difficult to find “black” cocktails using Google without coming up with a lot of unhelpful results. I found a lot that have the word black in the name, but not too many that are the color black after being mixed. Or worse, recipes that didn’t “cheat” by using either Blavod Black Vodka which I wasn’t in the mood to hunt down, or Black Raspberry or Cherry liqueurs, neither of which I’m a fan of.

The Black Pearl

The flavors of peach, pear, orange and pomegranate come together for a cocktail on the sweet side with a gothic black tint.

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz vodka, pear infused
  • 34 oz 100% pomegranate juice
  • 12 oz peachtree schapps
  • 12 oz blue curacao

Instructions

  1. Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

This recipe produced the visual result that I was looking for with that “just a hint of sweet” undercurrent that I enjoy. I have no problem with pink drinks, but when it comes to my bar, the “girlier” the cocktail, the faster you’re hitting the floor… I tried adding spirits of other colors, but the flavors didn’t help the drink at all and while it isn’t “true” black, with the right lighting, it does the trick. The fun of it is that the longer the drink sits–as if you’d let this cocktail settle?!–the purple of the pomegranate separates from the blue curacao to create a BIV (as in ROY G.) spectrum of color flowing from the top to the bottom.

With my usual boldness and panache, I’ll go out on a limb and call The Black Pearl–named by a good friend–my signature cocktail for the season. I’m not likely to be creating too many more drinks this summer as that might be too much temptation to break the drinking limits, it’s a safe call.

Better than The “Best” Sangria

I know, I know, I already posted a recipe for “The Best” Sangria a year ago that remains one of my most visited pages on this site. Well, no disrespect to America’s Test Kitchen, but while their recipe is good, I think I’ve improved upon the original. As much as I see Sangria as a make-ahead recipe, I wanted to change it up a little bit that would allow it to only have to sit for a short time but release the “bite” that wine can sometimes have. Also, I wanted it to really taste more like the drink that you’ve made when you have a few bottles left open the morning after a big meal with friends.

Since mentioning Sangria as a good go-to Summertime party drink, many people would tell me how they used to make Sangria in college–always college–and it generally involved adding vodka, brandy or grain alcohol to wine, fruit optional. And while there’s nothing wrong with boozing up some wine, I didn’t think that would create a smooth and sip’able drink. Still, there was some wisdom to be had in adding either more or diverse liquor to my original recipe. I also figured, if this was a next day drink/punch, one wouldn’t necessarily have all the same type of wine lying around, right?

Thankfully, I had a party to attend, so tripling the amount of Sangria–using three different wines–wasn’t a bad thing and it’s a lot easier to transport 3 liters of Sangria in a bucket than trying to funnel it back into bottles. It vanished rapidly, clearly a big hit and I was told by a friend that it was better than my usual, so the recipe is a keeper!

Better than The "Best" Sangria

  • 3 (inexpensive or leftover) 750mL bottles of red wine
    • Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Shiraz
    • Shiraz-Grenache
  • 34 cup sugar
  • 3 oz. triple sec
  • 3 oz. peach schnapps
  • 1 oz. St. Germain (elderflower liqueur)
  • 4 sliced lemons
  • 4 sliced medium oranges
  • 4 juiced medium oranges*
  1. Add sliced oranges, lemons and sugar to large pitcher (or bucket) and muddle–not crush–with a spoon until the fruit releases some of its juice and the sugar dissolves a bit.
  2. Add orange juice, triple sec, peach schnapps and St. Germaine; stir.
  3. Pour in wine, stir to combine and refrigerate for at least 2–and up to 8–hours. Overnight is best.
    • If making a day ahead, remove the fruit with a slotted spoon after about 8 hours. The fruit’s oils will have been imparted into the Sangria and after that point it starts to become bitter from the peel & pith.
    • Reserve the fruit to add back in before serving.
  4. Stir briskly to distribute fruit and pulp; serve immediately over ice.

* If you’re not in the mood to pick over oranges in the produce aisle, pick up a 3 lb. bag of oranges that don’t look too bad. It should contain 8 or 9 oranges and you’re all set. Juice the ugly ones and slice the pretty ones.

The type of wines and liqueur you use is up to you, obviously, but the above combo is a winner. It makes a sweet enough drink to have right away and a smooth enough drink to have the next day. If you really want a “quick” batch, I’d use all Grenache blends as they have less acid and tannins so already come with less of a bite, even when blended with stronger reds. Removing the fruit helps the Sangria keep longer–without added bitterness–and makes for a boozy snack that still lets you say you’re getting a daily requirement of fruit… right?

After my last party experience, I’m tempted to suggest that you double the above recipe so long as you don’t throw out your back trying to move it from the counter to the fridge. If there are other libations available, it should last the evening for a party of 10 or so, but don’t count on there being any left over to take home with you. The summer may be almost over, but consider this recipe–whether served in a bucket or tastefully appointed punchbowl–for those “last hurrah” and Labor Day parties.

The English Garden

While I love the start of Farmers Market season in DC for access to great fresh goods, I admit that one of the first things I make a beeline for is strawberries. Whether I just eat them straight, make ice cream or sorbet with them or find a way to introduce them into my cocktails, I’m generally coming home with at least 2 pints.

English Garden Just over a year ago, I got together with Stephanie of Adventures in Shaw (and now Whisked!) to come up with a seasonal cocktail using strawberries, and I figured why not stick with what works for 2011.

I first tried my strawberry puree with St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, lemon and gin and it was “good” but not great. It had the essence of fruit and floral notes, but was missing something. I recall that one of our favorite drinks at Againn was the Lady MacBethrecipe here–which uses an egg white to lighten up the drink and give it a lovely foamy head that feels like a pillow on the tongue.

I’d never used an egg white in any of my cocktails before, but after a little research I felt confident enough that it would work and had a very small chance of making me sick. I don’t have egg allergies and the risk of salmonella is small. Plus, as I use raw eggs in my cooking all the time, clearly I have no fear. So I modified the recipe, added in an egg white, shook until I thought my arms would fall off and ended up with a definite winner.

English Garden

English Garden, instagram style

  • 1 12 oz. gin
  • 12 oz. strawberry puree*
  • 12 oz. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
  • 12 oz. simple syrup
  • splash lemon juice
  • 1 large egg white (about 2 tbsp?)**
  1. Pour gin, strawberry puree, St. Germain, simple syrup and lemon juice into cocktail shaker and give a good stir to blend ingredients.
  2. Add egg white, stir, then give a good shake (no ice, yet) to mix ingredients and prepare yourself for what’s about to come. I was also advised that removing the spring from a cocktail strainer, balling it up and adding it to the shaker in this step would help. The insert from a ball whisk would likely also do.
  3. Add ice, I usually fill 2/3 of the way, and shake like your life depended on it. I found that a clear shaker was the most fun for this because you can see the mixture get really frothy. But seriously, give it a good hard shake. You aren’t trying to create a mousse or meringue, but you are trying to get that quality from the egg white to lighten the drink.
  4. Using a mesh strainer, strain into cocktail glass. As you’ve likely pulverized the ice into shards and pellets, this will keep the drink ice-free, it should also keep strawberry bits out of the drink depending on how smooth your puree is. You may find that you need to tap or shake the strainer to get everything through.

* Strawberry puree is made by chopping and hulling strawberries, add sugar to taste and stir. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, then puree in blender, food processor or with immersion/stick blender. Strain and keep in fridge. (If solely for cocktails, adding a tablespoon vodka will help it last longer)

** If you have an egg allergy or just fear raw eggs, you can also use pasteurized or powdered egg whites. No promises that it will have the same effect, but may be easier if making a lot at once.

I call it an English Garden because it has the feel of having afternoon tea, with cakes and biscuits, out on a patio or in the garden… while getting nicely hammered. Unfortunately there’s already a drink called English Garden that is similar but tries to be more English than Garden. Still, I should probably find a new name for mine.

Any ideas? Let me know in the comments!

The “Best” Sangria

Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve posted an improved version of this recipe. It’s time to trade up!

We have tons of recipes for items that are a little past their prime. Whether it’s making bread pudding or french toast from day old/stale bread or using those browning bananas for banana bread, there’s always something that can be done with most leftover food. But when it comes to drinks, the field is pretty scarce, but Sangria is easily at the top of the list. While it’s mostly made with unopened wines, it’s also a perfect recipe for throwing together the leftover wines from the previous evening. Unless, of course, you’re like me and have to ask, “What’s leftover wine?”

My go-to recipe is pretty simple, but it’s not mine save for the odd alteration. This is “The Best Sangria” as determined by America’s Test Kitchen and the recipe’s been up on my other blog for a while now, but there’s nothing wrong with rehashing a classic, especially now that Summer is here. This really is the perfect beverage for a backyard cookout, a rooftop party or anytime it gets a little too hot and you’ve had time to prepare a cool beverage.

Ingredients

  • 2 large oranges, washed (one sliced, one juiced)
  • 1 large lemon, washed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup triple sec
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle inexpensive fruity medium-bodied red wine


Directions

  1. Add sliced orange, lemon and sugar to large pitcher; mash gently with wooden spoon until fruit releases some juice, but is not totally crushed, and sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in orange juice, triple sec, and wine; refrigerate for at least 2–and up to 8–hours.
  3. Before serving, add ice and stir briskly to distribute fruit and pulp; serve immediately.

And it’s just that simple. A large orange produces about a 1/2 cup of juice in case you don’t have enough fruit around the house and I may change up the liqueur used, substituting out pear for orange or just adding it in to make it more potent. It will need at least 6 hours before serving to give the wine time to mellow out, so I usually make it the night before, or in the wee hours of the morning. If you won’t be enjoying it for a while, take the fruit out after about 8-10 hours and strain it to be stirred back in later.

As this is a “leftover” dish, it’s not meant for your finest wines unless you’re really into that. I usually opt for Fish Eye Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot because it 1: comes in screwtop bottles, which are great for transporting the sangria once made, and 2: it’s cheap. It costs $4.50 a bottle when you buy it as a 6-pack from Safeway. This recipe scales upwards nearly equally, so you’ll likely need a bucket when making a bigger batch, but I find that people appreciate that just as much.

As a special reward for yourself, you’ll find that, for example, making 3 bottles of wine into sangria results in about 4 bottles worth of sangria. So you can keep a bit for yourself at home in case you didn’t get enough of your own concoction at the party. But if–like me–you’re not proud, carting the sangria around in a bucket is just fine too and a lot easier. With the added potential of making new friends on the metro when they see what’s in the bag! And if you need a creative gift, buy some nicer bottles or make your own labels to slap on some screwtop bottles. This recipe keeps in the fridge for up to a week before it starts to go through a bit of fermentation which, while making it more potent, also turns it bitter faster. So it’s not something to keep around forever like regular wine.


If you can find it on the cheap, or happen to be gifted some Spanish wines, a Tempranillo or Grenache would be great or a big fruity French Beaujolais, but those are definitely bottles you’d use for next-day Sangria. This isn’t a drink to spend either too much money or time on. That latter because it goes fast. If you fear you haven’t made enough, be sure to fill each person’s glass with plenty of ice & fruit and as a last “stretching” resort, top each glass with ginger ale. In my experience, however, this won’t work for long but by the time it’s all gone people will be feeling pretty good anyway.

Now that my “secret” is out, I may have to start bringing actual food to potlucks and cookouts… the horror!

AGAINN Spring Menu

Spring Luncheon Menu from AGAINN

Earlier this month, I was invited along with other local food bloggers and writers to AGAINN–pronounced ‘aguinn’ [a-g-uin]–to sample their Spring Menu. As I am a blogger and this is more or less going to be a review, let me make some things clear up front:

  1. I have been to AGAINN before, for happy hour with friends and a food blogger happy hour, so I am familiar with their food and drink. The promise of new menu items was the main draw.
  2. So that there are no misunderstandings, this lunch was free. There has been a lot of buzz about full disclosure on the part of bloggers to allay any suspicions of bias. As I said, I have been to AGAINN before and paid for food and drink, just not this time.

Head Bartender Rachel Sergi

That said, it was a wonderful time. They took us on a menu tour, for lack of a better term. Beverage Director Caterina Abbruzzetti allowed us to sample amazing cocktails and some unique and hard-to-find libations–wine, beer and scotch–unless you visit AGAINN, of course.

Lady MacBeth cocktail Head Bartender Rachel Sergi served up one of my favorite cocktails from their bar, the Lady MacBeth. Made with vodka or gin, it has lemon, elderflower liqueur, rosewater and egg white. The latter ingredient giving it an amazing cloud-like quality on the tongue while the former conspire to give it an intense floral bouquet, pun intended. It’s a foamy, flowery delight that is as much a joy to watch being made as it is to drink. If you’re a one-drink limit sort of person, consider this one for happy hour or as an apéritif.

My only amendment to that recommendation is if it’s near a holiday or other special event as their bartenders love to experiment. We also got a taste of a cocktail called The Saint created after the Superbowl in honor of the New Orleans Saints. Containing dark lager, gin and sweet vermouth, it was layered perfectly to appear black and gold, naturally. During my previous visits, I’ve been offered a taste of something that the bartenders were working on. Not everything was to my liking, but that’s the fun of playing around with cocktails and they’re willing to work at it to zero in on worthy drink menu additions.

Vichyssoise with Goat Cheese on Toast

Following the warm-up cocktail, our lunch started with a chilled Vichyssoise accompanied by goat cheese on toast. Aside from the occasional Gazpacho, I don’t normally enjoy cold soups, but this one was very yummy. It had a drizzle of just barely fragrant olive oil on top and with the toast made for a great starter. Though I’ll say that they could just offer the goat cheese on toast as an option on its own and I’d love it.

Pan-Seared Scottish Salmon

Next up was Pan-Seared Scottish Salmon atop a mix of peas, bacon and lemon. Executive Chef Wes Morton was on-hand to walk us through the dishes and answer our questions including being able to tell us about the salmon farm where AGAINN buys their fish.

A little taste of scotch The salmon entrée was delicious, but there isn’t anything mysterious about the method of preparation. Simple is always good, but as someone that cooks, you don’t always want to go out to eat for something you could easily prepare at home. The peas tasted very fresh, like shelling them yourself after harvest fresh and mixed well with the house made bacon but they were firm. Some of my dining companions thought they could have used a little more cooking to achieve a more tender texture.

Palette cleanser, Radishes and Butter After the salmon, they brought out trays with radishes and what looked like cheese sprinkled with chives. This was a palette cleanser and the “cheese” was actually butter, unsalted and very thick. I was dubious, but not only did the two go very well together, it really did completely wipe out the taste of the salmon and we were quite ready to enjoy dessert.

Pastry Chef Genevieve So walked us through the dessert, a Rhubarb Syllabub specifically designed to counteract the usual concept of overly-sweet British desserts. The bitterness of the rhubarb seemed enhanced by Campari and made an interesting contrast to the creamy-pillowy base.

Rhubarb Syllabub with Black Pepper Shortbread Cookies

Did I mention the Black Pepper Shortbread Cookies? Amazing, and while the Syllabub wasn’t really to my taste, I would swiped the cookies from the plates of those seated next to me had they not already vanished. If you’re a rhubarb purist, however, you’ll love this dessert as it doesn’t try to overpower the plant’s less-sweet taste as most recipes do.

It was a great lunch and their other lunch and dinner offerings should not disappoint. I enjoyed how knowledgeable the chefs and bartenders were about their wares and if you’re a diner that needs to know exactly where your food came from, this is the place to go. Based on their menu, our 3-course lunch would have cost around $30 or so not including drinks. Depending on your job, a leisurely lunch isn’t always an option, so most are more likely to spend less for lunch on food, at least.

Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves from Againn As things were coming to a close, Pastry Chef So sent us off with some homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Preserve including the recipe!

Strawberry Rhubarb Preserve

  • 2 lbs. (fresh local) strawberries, quartered
  • 2 lbs. rhubarb
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 packet natural pectin
  1. Cut rhubarb into half-inch pieces and combine with 3 cups sugar. Let marinate for 1-2 hours.
  2. Mix remaining sugar with pectin and vanilla bean, and reserve.
  3. Cook marinated rhubarb over stove until pieces are soft and broken, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add strawberries and sugar/pectin/vanilla mix into pot and continue to cook down and reduce, constantly stirring for about 15 minutes.
  5. Deposit hot jam into sterilized hot jars, seal and turn upside down to cool.

I’m not much of a jam maker, but even I could be convinced with a tasty result like this one! AGAINN does right by the term Gastropub with a warm atmosphere, accessible menu and great food!

Links
AGAINN (DC): Twitter & Facebook
OpenTable
Yelp
Urbanspoon
Againn Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Yelp DC Drinks Week Mar. 1-7

As if RAMW’s Unleashed wasn’t enough for you next week, Yelp is also getting 17 DC bars and restaurants to participate in Yelp Drinks.

Yelp Drinks flyer with details and participating venues

Who’s up for a city-wide happy hour… all day long, all week long?!

For many of us, there is nothing like unwinding with a cold beer, glass of wine or a tasty cocktail. This March, for the first time ever in DC, Yelp brings you Yelp Drinks, a city-wide opportunity to sample some tasty, alcoholic beverages at some of the places that locals love most! Participating locations will feature up to 3 adult beverages for 50% off, all week long during their business hours.

Yelp Drinks prices are good all day Monday through Sunday while supplies last. Though we’re calling this a happy hour, it’s more like a happy week – lasting for 7 straight days!

I know some of us cast a side glance at those people sitting at bars with drinks in the early daylight hours, but maybe next week they’re just taking part in the deals. Not just restricted to Happy Hour, these specials being offered all day is pretty unique. From $2.50 for a Great Lakes Amber Lager at SOVA Espresso and Wine to $14 for a Pitcher of Fusion Sangria Margaritas at Hudson Restaurant and Lounge, there’s something for everyone in this list: beers, mixed drinks, martinis, classic cocktails and perhaps a few surprises. The “100 calorie cocktails” being offered at PS7’s are intriguing to say the least.

There’s a kickoff party tonight at The Park at Fourteenth from 5-10p if you want to mingle with some fellow Yelpers–is that what they call themselves? Between Unleashed and Yelp Drinks, I’m looking forward to chasing away some of the winter doldrums with a few friends, a few bites and more than a few drinks!

Bourbon Steak DC at the Four Seasons

Everyone treats themselves, especially around this time of year. You’re in a shop or online, looking for gifts and you see the perfect thing… for yourself. You throw caution to the wind and say "Why not? I deserve this!" Well, as you might have guessed from where it resides, Bourbon Steak DC is like that, a dining treat for the well-deserving individual be it yourself and/or others. An advance look at the menu also confirmed that. It’s not super expensive, but definitely a "steakhouse" and the prices are higher than your neighborhood "steak place" but the dishes are a serious cut above and everything else about the place, service, atmosphere, etc. lends itself to the experience.

Complimentary Champagne & my cocktail, The Corpse Reviver (No. 2)

Bourbon Steak is a place that could be pretentious, it could be home to horror stories of snooty hosts and maître d’s but clearly chooses not to be so. Still, when the lovely woman behind Adventures in Shaw (Shaw Girl or SG for short) suggested it to our little family of friends, bloggers and foodies, I had a bit of trepidation. I’m a classy enough guy, but it’s so rare that I go someplace really classy. The prices didn’t scare me off so much as the idea of "Will I feel out of place?" The answer was a resounding "No!" but let me back up a bit to explain why.

As anyone should know, the DC foodie crowd is on twitter and we are quite active. As I mentioned the other day, we really appreciate local eateries that have a strong and active social media presence. Not to swipe her story, but SG happened to mention on twitter that she was looking for a local source for duck fat. She soon got a response from Bourbon Steak DC’s twitter account that they would check for her and they came back with an answer. The mere fact that she was just throwing out a question into the wilds and they took it upon themselves to answer encouraged her to check them out and make us a reservation. And when you get the twitter foodies excited about an upcoming meal, we aren’t quiet about it at all. So we were commenting to and about @BourbonSteakDC and they were responding right back. Most notably, I noticed the dress code on the website–I’m not a fan of having to dress up for dinner that isn’t business or a date. I mentioned this on twitter and within 30 seconds Colleen, the person behind their twitter account, sent me a note clarifying things. It’s that attention to hospitality, especially for customers that haven’t even eaten there before, that sets a higher bar for dining out.

I should stop here and say that this entry could never be long enough and certainly won’t be brief. Our experience was that good and I’m hoping that my dining companions write about it as well so that you can read about it from different perspectives.

Truffle butter rolls.

After a few of us arrived by various means–one slight drawback about the Four Seasons for DC residents is that it isn’t easily reachable via metro–we checked in, checked coats, weren’t admonished for being early and were invited to have a drink in the bar area while we waited for the rest of our party. Oh my word, the bar! It was gorgeous, of course, more of a lounge in and of itself and their cocktail menu is extensive: hand-squeezed juices, small batch cordials, house-made bitters and syrups and house-grown herbs. Enjoyed by our party were a Sazerac, a Corpse Reviver (No. 2), their Hot Cocoa and Spiced Cider. The latter was with Maker’s Mark and the former… I can’t recall. Hopefully either SG or MM will write about it. We were still soaking in the luxury when they informed us that our table was ready and offered to either let us finish our drinks and close out the bill in the lounge or transfer the drinks to our table, both on the bill and literally. They would have gladly taken the drinks over for us and since I was having a stemmed cocktail, I took them up on it. What’s the point of classy if you can’t take advantage of it?

As MM does in his Yelp review, it may be best if I try to break it down into courses and I apologize in advance, because I know I won’t be able to remember what everyone around the table ordered.

Appetizers/Starters

Duck fat French Fries. 3 styles, 3 sauces

I was coaxed into ordering the Fresh Louisiana Gulf Shrimp (Cocktail) by our server who was insidious when it came to our indecision. He never directly suggested we order something, but was instead a gentle and calming voice just over your shoulder pushing you over the edge from an “No, perhaps not” to a “Yes, definitely.” Also around the table were the Iceberg Wedge salad, Ahi Tuna Tartare (prepared tableside) and Roasted Chestnut Soup (with Foie Gras). For those of us not partaking in a starter, they provided lovely house treats: Duck Fat French Fries in 3 seasoning styles with 3 sauces and Truffle Butter Rolls. Truffles are slowly, but surely, making their way back into consumer market, but subtly. Often in–now–not too expensive oils, or butter. I didn’t always have much of a taste for them, but now I can’t get enough when in the right dishes.

There was more than enough of everything to go around and to share. I nabbed a bite of the tuna tartare and a slurp of the soup which definitely wins for at least presentation. The server sat the bowl down and it was empty, save for a few roasted chestnuts and slices of foie gras. Just as I thought to ask “And… where’s the soup?” the server poured it in from a small carafe and the sensory experience tripled. And I was only sitting next to the person that had ordered it.

Entrees/Sides

I believe everyone ordered a steak. It was our first time there, save one, so it made sense to order what they’re named for. We got 16 Oz Boneless Rib Eyes and 14 Oz Dry-Aged New York Strips at varying temperatures. Their steaks are butter poached and then finished on a wood-fired grill. I’ve never had them in that style before and unfortunately it isn’t the kind of thing that’s easy to repeat at home without tons of clarified butter on hand. Our steaks arrived exactly as ordered and when we did order them, our server didn’t talk down to us or turn up his nose when we specified a temperature. He simply confirmed it, told us “that’s pink throughout” or “that’s pink with a warm red center” and that was that. Now, I would like to know what they’ve been advised to say should a customer order a steak in a manner that would–in most opinions–ruin it, but I imagine that they would still be polite about it.

16oz. Boneless Rib-Eye w/various sides.

Even though everyone was excited about the Black Truffle Mac & Cheese, their side orders are sort of family style in that one side is definitely bigger than a one-person serving, but you’d still want to order at least one side for every two people. In addition to the mac & cheese we ordered the Red Pontiac Potatoes w/Hand-Churned Butter, Roasted Spaghetti Squash w/La Quercia Prosciutto, Wood-Roasted “Magical” Mushrooms and Sautéed Brussels Sprouts w/Apples & Bacon.

To make a long story short, everything was delicious. I’m not even a fan of spaghetti squash or Brussels sprouts but I had no trouble finishing the modest portions that I scooped onto my plate. My steak was perfectly cooked to medium-rare. Even though it was a Rib-Eye cut and there was some fat, it didn’t have that “strip o’ fat” that sometimes surrounds a steak even in the nicest of restaurants. Tender throughout, nicely seasoned–I usually ask for salt with my steak, didn’t have to this time–and such a thick cut of meat that not only did we make naughty jokes about our steaks, we all had trouble finishing them off.

Dessert/Aperitifs

By now, I have to say that I was full. Honest to goodness, “can’t eat another bite” full. So I passed on dessert, but thankfully the rest of the table wasn’t similarly afflicted and they brought spoons for all of us, anyway. I got to sample a bit of:

  • Tiramisu (mascarpone mousse, espresso sponge, cocoa sorbet)
  • Bitter Chocolate Cake (hazelnut ice cream, milk & honey ganache)
  • Coconut Candy Bar (milk chocolate, praline caramel, Marcona almonds)
  • Michael’s Root Beer Float (sassafras ice cream, root beer sorbet, chocolate chip walnut cookies)

Well, not the last one as its owner was pretty selfish–though he did share the cookies, and not the candy bar since I’m not really a fan of coconut. The tiramisu literally made me yell “Shut. UP!” it was so good. Yeah, I know, you can’t take me anyplace nice. An ordered Maker’s Mark on the rocks was low on rocks, heavy on Maker’s Mark–I heard no complaints. Coffee arrived in a cafetière–french press for you yokels–and fresh herbal tea in a small steeping pot. The meal began and ended with elegance, so nice!

Hospitality

I can’t really say enough about how welcome they made us feel. Just because we mention a restaurant over and over on twitter or in our blogs, you don’t really expect them to be responsive or even care. It’s not about getting their attention, it’s about discussing what we love. Even so, Bourbon Steak was very appreciative of us “waving the flag” as the manager said.

A lovely welcome, twitter style

In addition to their already great hospitality, they were expecting “the twitter foodie party.” Both the manager and their social media person came out to say hello, welcome us and thank us for choosing the place and talking it up online. I will disclose that they gifted our table a bottle of complimentary champagne, but this was not a payment for the free PR, just in appreciation of it. We’d have eaten there even if their twitter account wasn’t as active as it is. And while foodies appreciate freebies, we never demand them. In fact, as I’ve said before, I think it’s very brave for any restaurant to host foodies, especially those with blogs because we do talk about what and where we eat.

If you’re on twitter, you can ask any of us about our experience: @Shaw_Girl, @floridagirlindc, @mazzie, @theblackdog2071, @stopthepota & @urbanbohemian (me). Some of our accounts are locked to friends-only, but we can still see @-replies. And you can contact @BourbonSteakDC directly with any questions about the restaurant.

And while I’m now biased towards our server, from looking around the dining room, it seemed that each table was getting the same attention to detail, expertise and advice with the menu and their choices and I didn’t see anyone that looked impatient or as if they weren’t having a good time. We were not rushed, our server didn’t linger or completely vanish and the only time he did sort of hover was after we’d requested the bill.

Price

To be frank, it wasn’t cheap. For our party it came to about $100 per person before gratuity. Comparing this to other places you could get steak, or even picking up a nice cut from the butcher, it is high, but every piece of the experience made it worth it. Not that I don’t want to try butter poaching a steak at home, but as I said, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Comparing it to the all-you-can-eat Churrascaria downtown which comes to about $50 per person before drinks, this was a bit more upscale and a very different experience. Also, as is apparent from the menu, it is perfectly possible to have dinner there and not spend that much but still have an excellent meal.

This would be an grand (and impressive) choice to have lunch with a client–especially if it’s expensed, or celebrate a special occasion with a group or someone special. If you’re planning a stay (or stay-cation) at the Four Seasons, even though all of Georgetown is available a few blocks away, I’d still suggest you reserve a table at Bourbon Steak.

A good meal, great friends and a restaurant that goes above and beyond to make their guests feel special. It might not be tomorrow, but I’ll definitely make plans to back to Bourbon Steak DC soon!

Links
Bourbon Steak DC: Twitter
OpenTable
Yelp
Urbanspoon
Bourbon Steak on Urbanspoon

Mulled/Spiced Apple Cider

I’m not much for holiday cooking and baking. I rarely host for any of the big holidays, and about the only thing I’ll bring to potlucks are non-holiday specific desserts. When a friend was throwing down for Thanksgiving and told us that we didn’t need to bring anything, I figured I could at least provide some libations. While wine is a default gift, I also sent ahead spices and ingredients to make mulled cider in the slow cooker. It’s a really simple recipe, but impressive mostly because of the seasonal charm and the fact that it will make your kitchen/apartment smell amazing while it simmers away.

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Continue reading Mulled/Spiced Apple Cider