Find some refreshment in D.C.’s summer swelter with new cocktails cropping up at local watering holes, and seek out the mixologists and bartenders who are whipping up icy drinks with specialty and seasonal ingredients.
Art and Soul on Capitol Hill is retrofitting a childhood favorite for adult audiences by offering sno-cone cocktails. The ice-layered drinks, designed by Jay Poblador, come in appropriately candy-bright colors served in cone-shaped glasses. The Laurel Park, for example, is made with stacked cucumbers and strawberries drenched in gin, St-Germain (elderberry liqueur) and sparkling rose.
In Rockville, Againn is offering a twist on the root beer float with Guinness instead. Created by Caterina Abbruzzetti, one option includes stout ice cream, cream soda and strawberry ice cream. And the just-opened Estadio, in Logan Circle, also plans to update frozen pastimes. The tapas restaurant will have cocktails made with on-site slushie machines.
Of course, location can make or break any cocktail hour, and Zentan has the perfect companion for its summertime beverages. The restaurant, in the Donovan House at Thomas Circle, is featuring its menu on the rooftop bar, serving the Shanghai Mai Tai, a mix of coconut and dark rum, Vee V, pineapple and passion fruit puree.
Continue to take your cocktail hour al fresco at Penn Quarter’s Zaytinya with Major Patrick’s Pimms, a combination of Pimm’s No. 1, Hendrick’s Gin, cucumber, dill and orange. Agora, marking its first summer, beats the heat with the Fig Delight, a Turkish-inspired cocktail of tequila, lime juice and agave nectar, with fig and kumquat, best enjoyed on the patio.
Or take inspiration from Cafe Atlantico‘s “Farm to Glass” cocktails, which Owen Thomson changes weekly, depending on what is available at the Penn Quarter farmers market. “You never know until you walk into the farmers market on Thursday what’s going to catch your eye,” said Thomson. He has whipped up such cocktails as the Cool Hand Cuke — with vodka, black-pepper thyme syrup and cucumber and lemon juices and the Thymes Ain’t So Blue that mixes Cruzan rum with a handcrafted blueberry and thyme tonic.
His advice to ambitious mixologists at home: Try picking up herbs (such as basil or lemon verbena) to be used either fresh or cooked into a simple syrup.
Next week, begining July 19, Urbana celebrates its fourth birthday by giving cocktail-lovers specialty cocktails for $12 each as well as selected small plates and punch-style drinks for a meager $5. With names such as Kentucky Picnic, Hemingway Daiquiri and the Glass Slipper — Ketel One vodka, ice wine, white grape juice, prosecco and frozen grapes — these tasty mixes scream of lazy, lingering summertime fun.
But if you want to try your hand at concocting a summer treat like the strawberry-infused one above, there is Bourbon Steak in Georgetown, which just launched mixology classes (priced at $95). Taught by Duane Sylvestre, students can select from Bourbon Steak’s extensive liquors, juices, mixers and house-grown herbs.
» Againn, 12256 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md.; 301-230-9260.
» Agora, 1517 17th St. NW; 202-362-6767.
» Art and Soul, 415 New Jersey Ave. NW; 202-332-7777.
» Bourbon Steak, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-944-2026.
» Cafe Atlantico, 405 8th St. NW; 202-393-0812.
» Estadio, 1520 14th St. NW; 202-319-1404.
» Zaytinya, 701 9th St. NW; 202-638-0800.
» Zentan, 1155 14th St. NW; 202-379-4366.
Written by Express contributor Danielle O’Steen
Photos courtesy Heather Freeman PR; courtesy Kimpton Group; courtesy Moshe Zusman Photography; by Kris Connor