Drinks will finally get their due at the June 22 Rammy Awards, as the local food awards introduce a category for the area's best cocktail program. In the spirit of celebration and cheap drinks, all five nominees are hosting happy hours on Thursday. Just don't offer to trade free shots for your vote: Unlike some Rammy categories, the public doesn't get a say in the cocktail award. Also, what do you think this is, Yelp?
Here's what you can look forward to:
The Gibson welcomes everyone to its upstairs bar – no reservations required – from 6 to 10 p.m., where Frank Jones and his team will serve pre-Prohibition cocktails for $8 each. A selection of the Gibson's original menu will also be available. But go on the early side, because the bar is the smallest on this list, and only holds a few dozen people comfortably.
Where the Gibson is cozy, Jack Rose is spacious: All three levels will be open, including the wildly popular Dram and Grain bar in the basement. Each floor will offer a different pair of drinks for $10 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Start at Dram and Grain for the smoky Ode to Omaha (see a video of that cocktail being made) and end up on the rooftop for the bourbon-and-peaches Back Porch.
Black Jack's "RAMMY carnival" is more like a game night, with the opportunity to play corn hole and giant-pin bowling in addition to the usual bocce. The bar will sell $1 tickets that can be used in raffles, to play games and, most importantly, traded six at a time for cocktails, including the gin-based Elderflower Monk, the sparkling Bright Lights, Big City and a frozen Hurricane. The party runs from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The weekly cocktail menu at Hank's on the Hill features drinks made with just three ingredients, and bartender Jason Strich says he's concocting a special Rammys drink for Thursday night: A frozen cocktail based made with Jameson, which will sell for $5 from 5 to 7 p.m. Other deals offered during happy hour are $5 house punch and red and white wines, and $1 raw or fried oysters.
Update: Bourbon Steak will not be pouring the previously-announced Kifu, but a drink called the Susan Lucci, a nod to the bar's previous nominations in various cocktail contests over the years. It includes Makers 46, creme de peche and berries, and costs $16 all night.
Bourbon Steak is pouring the Kifu, a seasonal house vodka cocktail with ginger, lemon and basil. No word on the price, though.
There's just one thing I'd change: Finalists were announced back in March. The ceremony takes place on June 22. With all that lead time, I wish that the promotions were staggered, like the Corcoran's Artini happy hour feature nights, perhaps with one featured restaurant per week. That format would allow much more sampling – and the possibility of trying discounted cocktails at each nominated bar, instead of only visiting one or two. But maybe having to "vote" for one bar over the others is the point.