If you're in a happy hour rut, a new Bethesda bar offers discount drinks and Prohibition-themed cocktails, and the Adams Morgan branch of Bourbon is unveiling a new 20 tap beer lineup tonight.
Brickside Food and Drink
From punches served in Mason jars to a large "Vote Against Prohibition" sign painted onto a bare brick wall, Bethesda's new Brickside Food and Drink is hitting all the faux-Prohibition notes. But as long as the drinks are good, I'll play along.
Brickside soft-opened last Thursday (its grand opening will be February 15) and while it's not quite firing on all cylinders yet, it's worth stopping in for happy hour. Besides, where else in Bethesda will you find such classic cocktails as the 12 Mile Limit and the Mary Pickford?
The bar's menu is as minimal as the décor: You'll only find three cocktails and four punches on the list. But they're done well. The Gunpowder Punch, a blend of rye whiskey, tea and lemon, is a smooth, herbal cocktail with a hint of spice to it. (It's garnished with a half-turn of white pepper from a grinder.) The Pimm's Punch is a sweet teaser for summer: a pale pink concoction with strawberries, oranges and mint.
Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. and includes $4 drafts (some, like Flying Dog and Guinness are $5), $4 rail drinks and house wine, $10 buckets of bottled beer and discounted appetizers. There are also daily specials. On Monday, all martinis are $7 until last call.
The staff at Bourbon refer to its bar being "reborn," which is a bit of a stretch. Let's just say your options have increased for the better. The Adams Morgan whiskey bar has expanded its draft selection to 20 taps on both floors, thanks to a new custom-built beer delivery system. It's salted with some "exclusive" beers that you can't find on tap anywhere else, such as Eggenberg Helles Lager and St. Idesbald Dubbel from Huyghe, the brewers of Delirium Tremens. In a neighborhood with plenty of other beer options (Black Squirrel, Smoke and Barrel, Mellow Mushroom), it's a smart idea. Stop by at happy hour, which runs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on weeknights, and you can take $2 off any draft.
More exciting to me, though, is the new cocktail program, helmed by Josh Fatemi, formerly of Black Jack and Pearl Dive. His short and sweet menu, which kicks off on Friday, features some savory drinks: the Ms. Corningstone mixes earthy Diep9 genever and the citrusy Bluecoast Gin for a very light and lemony cocktail, accentuated by a homemade syrup of basil and white peppercorns. (The glass is rinsed with the sweet Lillet aperitif, which adds to the flavor.) The Papa Burgundy is a twist on the Manhattan with Averna for extra bitterness, and there's a wonderful orange flavor throughout. (Fatemi flames an orange peel into the empty glass to distribute the fruit's zest and oils throughout the whole drink, rather than just adding it at the end, where you'll only notice the scent for a few sips from the top.) There will be six cocktails on the menu, with another one or two rotating specials that will be more seasonable. Even better, all drinks are $10.