Christopher Davis, who owns a passport-expediting business by day, is an expert party planner by night. A master of the "event," he says throwing a hot soiree demands two essentials: a solid theme and a paper invite. (Evites? Never!) People still talk about the Hollywood bash he threw last May, when searchlights beckoned party-crashers from miles around. So it was no surprise that guests were abuzz over his latest fete, a haute-cookout collaboration with Keith Goldston, master sommelier of Charlie Palmer Steak (101 Constitution Ave. NW, 202-547-8100). The evening's focus: the wine cocktail.
As guests arrived, the gathering looked like an average cookout, with people congregating around the grill and scattering into small groups on Davis's rooftop deck. But then the vino guru made his entrance, armed with a cocktail shaker and a trio of wine-based creations. The boozy fun was on.
As Goldston got to work, he explained that the allure of these drinks is that you get "the glamour of the cocktail without all the alcohol." They're like Cosmopolitans without the hangover, gin and tonics without the bite. Better yet: They're easy on the pocketbook, as mixing flavors into the wine means you don't have to spring for pricey vintages to impress.
First came the Granite Fizz, a bubbly blend of sparkling white wine and fresh pomegranate juice -- a classy evening version of the mimosa. That was followed by the Pinot Gria, Goldston's spin on white sangria, featuring fresh peaches, watermelon and pineapple and served in cinnamon-sugar-rimmed glasses.
As they drank, people piled plates high with grilled hangar steak, striped bass and fresh summer salads, courtesy of CP's executive chef, Bryan Voltaggio. For dessert? Goldston's Razzle Dazzle -- a silky-smooth after-dinner drink that tasted just like a raspberry Creamsicle. (The main ingredient: Bonny Doon Framboise, stocked by Dean & DeLuca, Cost Plus World Market and Whole Foods Market -- but call first to make sure they have it in stock.)
Sipping from martini glasses and gazing at the Capitol gleaming behind neighboring rooftops, the crowd agreed that Davis and Goldston had successfully reinvented the Great American Cookout. Burgers, dogs and sweaty beer? Thanks, but we'll pass -- now pour us another granite fizz.
Jennifer Plum Auvil