all photos: Dakota Fine
Between presidential duties at the DC Craft Bartender’s Guild, and stints behind the bar at Bourbon and now Cafe Atlantico/MiniBar, Owen Thomson carries some solid mixologist clout along with him at all times. So, without further a do, a week of what goes down his throat (smoothly), accompanied by photos at his favorite neighborhood haunt, ROOM 11.
Get ready to get thirsty.
It’s 6:30am on a Sunday morning and as odd as you might think it is for someone in my profession to be up at this time of day (that’s getting out of bed, not just getting home) my body seems to find it even more bizarre. After a slap in the face cold shower, I grab some leftover Gatorade and start brewing what will be the first pot of an atrocious amount of coffee today.
If you thought it was odd that I was up this early already this next part will either further confuse you or start to make things a little clearer. It’s about 8:45 am and I have four different wines lined up in front of me, also cup of coffee number five. This will be the first of 14 different wines I drink this morning and roughly the same amount of coffee. We get a brief respite and snag some lunch at Sou’wester (I stick to water). This is not exactly a typical Sunday for me; I usually drink margaritas, this particular weekend I am taking the First Level Sommelier Course.
After a full day of drinking wine I get home around 6pm and crack open the books with you guessed it…more coffee.
Up at the crack of dawn again, more water, more coffee and right off to the Mandarin for another dozen wines. For lunch I sneak in a quick meal at Potbelly including some IBC Cream Soda and try to pull out some sort of last-ditch attempt at studying.
After we take the exam we all coral out into the hallway and await our fate and luckily, there is champagne (mine is a celebratory glass, I passed the course). Following all this wine what I really want is a nap but instead I roll upstairs to the Empress Bar with some fellow classmates and drink what any newly minted sommelier would drink, Budweiser. After a couple Budweisers I switch to gin & tonics with the encouragement of John Wabeck who is kicking around the hotel studying for much more advanced wine degrees.
Now around 6:30pm all I really want is a nap, perhaps one that lasts until tomorrow but I have just one more stop to make, D.C. Craft Bartender’s Third Annual Rickey Party is today. Despite a sneaking suspicion that this might lead to a very long day with no nap in sight, my Presidential duties spur me onwards. Mixing tonight are our five finalists Adam Bernbach (Proof/Estadio), Dave Fritzler (Tryst), Alex Bookless (Passenger), Dan Searing (Room 11), and Gina Chersevani (PS7). I, of course, am obligated to drink all of their entries as well as a few classic Rickeys in the back room with Kevin Rogers. There are also a few beers to pace myself in addition to some Woodford and Chairman’s Reserve rum to unpace myself.
Dan and I head up the hill to his bar, Room 11, where I have some Conde de Subirats Cava Rose, a few pints of Avery Karma and a glass of Compass Box Eluthera. After about 18 hours of moderate imbibing, my day finally wraps up.
8:00am Coffee, it’s not my fault I have dogs and one of them howls. I alternate large quantities of coffee and sparkling water for the next five hours before making my way to work for the evening. No imbibing at work but I do taste a large majority of the cocktails that I churn out before sending them out, as well as a few tastes of possible new cocktails. Finish the evening with a glass of Rivesault Amber.
Coffee: Yup. Sparkling Water: Yup.
Have a Pacifico with lunch after doing some home repairs and then time to start my day.
Meeting up with Dan again over at Room 11, a true test of willpower having this place around the corner from my house. When I get there he’s tasting a few wines which I jump in on. He also has a case of De Dolle Ara Bier so of course we have to try one. This is a delicious Belgian Pale Ale perfect for the heat today. Then we get down to the treat of the day…a bottle of Havana Club Anejo Especial which I found sitting on the street (I’m sticking with that story). We try it straight and mixed up in some daiquiris and dream of the days when will be able to pop down to Cuba for some drinks.
Dan mixes me up some of his new drinks including a delicious white sangria that has St. Germain which has been infused with fresh strawberries and nectarines and a Tex-Mex Old Fashioned that has burns in the most enjoyable way, if you like spice this is the drink for you and I love me some spice.
Dan and I pop up the street to Meridian pint to grab some snacks and a few beers, I have a Bruery Saison Rue 750ml, an Avery Mephistopheles and Czar Imperial Stout.
My fiancée has some family in town and we go grab dinner at CommonWealth and I have a nice hoppy Oliver’s Ironman IPA they have on cask.
Coffee: So much it hurts.
Work a double shift on Thursday so all the liquids going in until 9:00 are caffeinated, then I get out early and head over to Old Ebbitt and grab a Budweiser. With my palate properly cleansed it’s time to go grab some cocktails at the W. As with most of the guys I actually order cocktails from, I let Joe Ambrose pick for me. This of course means I rarely know exactly what I’m drinking nor is it usually on a menu. I have a Tequila Fizz (the egg white causes some confusion amongst other bar patrons), Joe’s version of a Rickey has some very tasty fig infused whiskey and the drink I almost always have here, a Red Hook (Rye, Punt e Mes and Maraschino). I love that damn drink.
In to work early today to get this week’s Farmer’s Market cocktail put together, the chefs and I grabbed a whole lotta plums yesterday. I dutifully taste through a variety of spirits trying to decide what will work best.
As usual lots of coffee and next thing ya know it’s closing time. It being Friday, it’s time to catch up with some old friends so it’s off to the Black Cat. Drinks include PBR, XX Lager and a few incidental shots of rye whiskey. Get home and try not to set off the alarm again…
Nice relaxing day of continued construction work in my house, the highlight of which involves finding a skull in the ceiling. On closer examination, I determine it’s probably just a raccoon or opossum rather than something more nefarious. For dinner, head over to Dickson Wine Bar and have a few cocktails, Brunswick Daiquiri and a few glasses of Assyrtico and Gruner Veltliner.