Nojito: L'Enfant Lemonade

(By Michael Temchine For The Washington Post)
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By Lavanya Ramanathan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 5, 2009

The mojito can seem like the drink of the nightclub crowd, best served over ice and pumping techno music. In fact, the beverage is the definition of the classic cocktail, having been the potion of choice for Ernest Hemingway, Fidel Castro and Cubans everywhere long before the Nuevo Latino craze of the 1990s brought the drink to American hipsters.

So who better than a classic cocktails guy -- adept at both history and simplicity -- to deliver the nojito? Dan Searing, who will head up cocktail- and punch-making as one of the partners in forthcoming Columbia Heights wine bar Room 11, is that guy.

"You don't want to make making a cocktail like deboning a chicken every time," Searing says of his approach.

For this summer, Searing, who is tending bar at the Warehouse Theater until Room 11 opens, created L'Enfant Lemonade, a masculine concoction that is witness to Washington history in the same way the mojito is quintessentially Havana.

Searing built the drink around Laird's Applejack, an apple brandy-and-grain liquor blend that counted notable Washingtonians among its fans: George Washington famously asked for the recipe, and Abraham Lincoln served it at his Illinois tavern.

Searing pairs the applejack with a bit of Lillet Blanc, a sweet wine; a bit of simple syrup; and fresh lemon juice. Rather than club soda, he tops it off with Perrier or another sparkling mineral water.

The garnish is a lemon wheel -- a wink at Washington's ubiquitous traffic circles designed by the drink's namesake, architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant.

Recipe: L'Enfant Lemonade

Searing will be serving L'Enfant Lemonade at the Warehouse Theater, from 7 to 11 p.m., through the run of performances of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (through June 14) and during Psychotronic Film Society events in June. 1021 Seventh St. NW. 202-783-3933 or

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