Tips From Behind the Bar
New Year's Eve is a night for going out. If you go to a bar and you're lucky, you'll get a bartender like one of these veteran drink dispensers. Fritz Hahn talked to six of the best in the area and asked them to share their knowledge: Does waving money in the air get you served faster? What makes for a good New Year's Eve? So belly up to our story and enjoy.
Where: Rasika (633 D St. NW; 202-637-1222)
If you want the most creative cocktails in the District, visit Gina Chersevani at the mod little lounge Rasika. She could be experimenting with lavender-infused gin or chocolate-infused tequila, creating her own flavored bitters for a new martini, mixing Indian spices into a mojito or cooking persimmon and cinnamon to serve as the base for a new warming winter cocktail.
Chersevani, who says "a lady never gives her age," got her start as "the girl with the beer tubs" in College Park, where she worked at Terrapin Station bar, but became interested in cocktails while working at Penang and 15 Ria. She really came into her own as a bartender at Poste, raiding the restaurant's outdoor herb garden for fresh ingredients for martinis and infusions.
She can also do simple: The Geezy Teezy is a glass of gin with ice cubes made of tonic water. As they melt, the flavor of the drink changes.
How do you come up with ideas for new drinks?
"They come from everywhere. Once, I made a drink to taste like my favorite lip gloss. Here's a story: My mom grew up on Bergen Avenue in Brooklyn. She loves egg creams. She used to get them at this place called Norma's Chocolate Store, and she still talks about the place. So I wanted to make try to make something similar for my mom. She's like 70. So I tried everything. Then I infused tequila with chocolate and added Baileys and topped it with Frangelico whipped cream. Mom liked it, but she's like, 'It's still not as good as Norma's.' "
What's your favorite drink when you're off the clock?
"A shot of Jameson's."
How does someone become a regular?
"There's a difference between being a regular and being a 'liked' regular. . . . Sit at the bar, talk to me, talk to other people, try different drinks, whatever."
Is there a secret to getting a drink quickly when the bar is mobbed?