When you want to wind down with a cocktail after a long work-week, try this excellent new option downtown: the two-week-old Lincoln restaurant and lounge at 1110 Vermont Ave. NW, just off Thomas Circle.
Head to the small bar, settle in at one of the comfortable leather stools and say “Lincoln Sour.” You get a heck of a cocktail, airy and frothy from being shaken with egg white. It’s a subtle tribute to our 16th president, made with Knob Creek Bourbon -- Lincoln grew up in Knob Creek, Ky., -- and applejack, a strong fortified cider that was popular in the 19th century. Combined, they yield a lightly sweet apple flavor (helped by the apple bitters) that goes down very smoothly.
That’s just the first of six house drinks developed by mixologists John Hogan and John Miller, the team that owns Annapolis cocktail destination Level. (A few years ago, Hogan served as the head mixologist at Lincoln’s sister restaurant Hudson.) The drinks I’ve tried have been fairly strong in taste and quality, though Honest Abe’s Moonshine -- a mason jar containing only Devil’s Door un-aged white whiskey, lemon juice and bitters -- is just plain strong. The flavors are more subtle in the rotating “monthly feature”: maple-infused Knob Creek mixed with Citronge orange liqueur, maraschino liqueur, fresh lemon juice and a heavily-sugared rim. I thought it might be a little syrupy-saccharine, as some maple drinks have been in the past, but I was impressed with the blend of fruit and bourbon.
Flip the menu over for a list of classic American cocktails: the Mai Tai, Hemmingway Daiquiri, Sazerac and D.C.’s own Shoemaker Rickey. I’ve only had the last one -- a refreshing cooler of Russel’s Reserve 6-year-old rye whiskey topped up with fresh lime and soda water -- but I’m looking forward to trying the rest and bringing a group of friends for a bowl of the Emancipation Punch, which serves six people for $42. (Other cocktails cost $9 or $10.)
Happy hour runs from 4 to 7:30 daily, but it doesn’t include any of the house cocktails. Instead, the “Lincoln Bill Specials” include $5 wines by the glass, $5 bottled beers and $5 mixed drinks using house spirits (Skyy Vodka, Bombay Gin, Jack Daniels, etc.). Don’t miss the snack menu, which features duck sausages in flaky pastry and “calamari fries,” which are three-inch sticks of crispy calamari served in a paper cone.
Discounts are great, but even if the house drinks cost two Lincolns instead of one, they’re worth it. Honest.