The Bitters Truth

If a cocktail is an ensemble cast, consider bitters (or amari in Italian) that outlier who always shows up at the right moment to deliver the perfect quip. Without bitters, the classic Manhattan cocktail would be “My Best Friend’s Wedding” sans Rupert Everett — all saccharine, no wit. “Bitters are like a liquid spice rack,” […]

Bloom in Not Much Room

Ah, a secret garden to call your own — a place where you can sprawl out in that faded bikini from three seasons ago and mascara from last night, reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” and slurping a good-morning margarita away from the judging eyes at the public pool. Spacious yards might be an anomaly of […]

The Height of Fashion

Half-pint. Vertically challenged. Shorty. Ever the runt of the room, I’ve heard all the nicknames. My college roommate towered a full head above me — fighting with her for mirror time was a nonissue. At 5 feet 3 inches tall, my height has never alienated me from society in any meaningful way (yes, I can […]

A Sip to Spain

Attention, bright young drinkers of D.C.: Think your nuanced knowledge of single-batch rye and hand-chiseled ice makes you a cut above? Max Kuller, the hip wine director of Spanish tapas spot Estadio (1520 14th St. NW; 202-319-1404), is calling your bluff. According to him, these days, sherry wine is on the lips of the country’s […]

Homespun Holidays

’Tis the season of folly: strapping 9-foot evergreens to the top of the Zipcar, decking the halls with LED lights that blink to “Feliz Navidad.” Too bad your apartment has only 8-foot ceilings and, whoops, that inflated electricity bill decimated your gift budget. But yuletide cheer doesn’t have to mean buying out the pop-up garland […]

Beyond Tonic and Limes: Effortlessly Cool Gin

Gin has long been the mature, clever sister to party-girl vodka. Where the latter dissolves into its surroundings without individuality, gin counters with an unapologetic punch of personality. “Gin is effortlessly cool,” says Eleanor Maxfield, editor of “The Ultimate Cocktail Book” ($18, Hamlyn/Octopus). “It has a brutal side, and, while oozing with sophistication, it also […]

Be a Caskmaster: Breaking Out the Bourbon

If vodka is the utilitarian fur cap of the spirits world, bourbon is its big-brim, sassy Derby hat. And that’s not just because bourbon flows faster at the Kentucky Derby (this Saturday) than the prized thoroughbreds on the track. “It conjures images of lazy summer days,” says Megan Coyle, mixologist at Hank’s Oyster Bar (1624 […]

I Like Spiked: Turning Ordinary Coffee Into Buzzy Cocktails

From coeds to day laborers to Cary Grant in “His Girl Friday,” imbibers spanning continents and generations find the lure of a spiked coffee drink in its very definition — the marriage of two favorite vices. “It was the Italians who first recognized the appeal of ‘correcting’ coffee with a shot of liquor — caffe […]

Yule by You: DIY Cocktail Party

It goes without saying that the Founding Fathers were wise dudes. One exception: “Snap Dragon” — an 18th-century party game in which holiday revelers filled a punch bowl with walnuts and booze, set it ablaze and then attempted to fish out walnuts with fast fingers. The fete plans of modern hosts, though less overtly dangerous, […]