All photos: Dakota Fine
As part of “May is FOOD Month on BYT” effort, in addition to the all-important “What’s in your fridge?” series, we’re also asking some of our favorite food (& beverage) people in DC to keep track of all they consume in a week, just so you see how people whose business is good food and alcohol, eat and drink every day.
Third up: Adam Bernbach, formerly of Bar Pilar (where he spearheaded the wildly popular Mixology Tuesdays), now bar manager at PROOF (one of those places to love for food, wine AND the cocktail menu), and well known and loved mixologist and cocktail writer/demonstrator about town sits down at a number of his favorite bars around DC, samples drinks by some of the city’s finest cocktail crafters (including Derek and Tom Brown, Chantal Tseng, Owen Thompson and others) and lets us know what to order and when. If there is one person we’d trust with our liquid diet, that is him.
Here is what he goes through in a week. Get ready to develop a new respect for his liver
Wednesday, April 28th
- Lots & lots of water (roughly 112oz.) As this goes on, and it appears more & more as if I have a problem, I think the constant amount of water will seem a bit more logical.
- Double espresso macchiato
- Pisco Corbeo: this is a delicious pisco that Nick Brown brought from Peru. I’ve no idea if it is available in the States, definitely not in DC.
- Littlemill single malt scotch: Tom Brown is a massive Scotch whisky fan, particularly hard- to-find, unique examples. Littlemill is a now defunct distillery in the Lowlands of Scotland, where a typically more floral Scotch is produced.
- Oxley gin: This is a new small batch English gin. On first try, I’m not blown away by it.
- Lagunitas Pilsner: Usual pilsy stuff. Nice drinking.
- Jameson: I’m not 100% sure this happened, but yeah, odds are…
Thursday, April 29th
- Water: Ditto
- French Press Coffee: 12oz. with milk & sugar
- Peacock: (Cognac, Amer picon, Pernod) every week, on Wed. & Thurs., Chantal Tseng puts out a list of one or two originals & a few rarely seen classics. Chantal’s attention to detail is phenomenal & her drinks are amongst the best in the city. this one was a boozy one. Smooth & sweet, then bitter & spiced. .
- Bloody Thursday : (Irish Whiskey, Harvey Bristol cream sherry, blood orange tea) Chantal’s the best with tea & sherry.
Kelt VSOP Cognac: Kelt is one of favorite cognac producers
Friday, April 30th
- Sencha green tea: I’ve heard that green tea reverses the effects of smoking. So, I go with it. I like the creamy, spinachy quality of sencha.
- 20th century cocktail: (gin, cocchi americano, marie brizard creme de cacao, lemon juice) The 20th century is like a deep cut in the pantheon of classic cocktails. This is due slightly to the fact that most creme de cacao is terrible. But, mostly because the recipe originally calls for Kina Lillet, a discontinued product much more bitter than the Lillet Blanc we know today. Fortunately, cocchi americano has within the past few weeks been made available & it is remarkably similar to Kina Lillet. The cacao needs that bitterness to balance it. Otherwise, it’s really weird.
- Ameztoi txakolina rosé: Just sick. So, so sick. Really crisp, bright, enamel peeling rosé from the Basque region of Spain.
- Corpse reviver #2: (gin, pernod, lemon juice, cocchi Americano) Open Wed.- Sat., the Columbia Room is Derek Brown’s warm & intimate ode to Japanese bartending. This, in effect, means super personable service & super precise drinks. The corpse reviver#2 is another classic drink originally using Kina Lillet that loses a bit with Lillet Blanc (though not nearly as much as the 20th century). That extra quinine in the cocchi gives the drink a lot more depth.
- Bamboo cocktail: (manzanilla sherry, Dolin dry vermouth, orange bitters) Another deep cut. The drink calls for a light sherry. Derek’s choice of a manzanilla sherry, with its acidity & saltiness, made for a pretty dope drink.
Saturday, May 1st
- Strawberry milk: Lined up my stuffed animals to watch cartoons. Fluffy was misbehaving.
- Sencha green tea
Sunday, May 2nd
- Vanilla malted: I’m a fan of old timey shit. Pop’s fits the bill. Also, malted milks, no one makes these anymore. I’ve no idea why. Delicious.
- Cappuccino: As someone who takes a longer time to make a drink, I support coffeehouses that put the same effort into their coffee. Tryst, Big Bear, & Chinatown have been my favorites
- Tribeca : (Bourbon, sherry, amaretto, bitters) Nick Brown’s tasty vermouth-less take on a Manhattan
- Lagunita Pils
- Amaro ramazotti: Amaro is a type of Italian bittersweet herbal liqueur. I tend to use a lot of it in my drinks
Monday, May 3rd
- Espresso macchiato: Filter just opened up a few weeks ago on 20th St., NW just south of S St. Nice small place. The espresso was perfect.
- Schlafly’s Kolsch: Greg Jasgur’s beer lists at the Paradisos are pretty incredible. I spend quite a lot of money here & on Greg Engert’s brilliant list at ChurchKey. The Schlafly’s stuff is, as far as I know, relatively new to the market. For the most part I’m not a fan of American Kolschs, but this one was pretty good.
- Schlafly’s Apa
- Something else: I cannot read my own handwriting on this one.
- Clayton: (aged rum, Dan Searing’s housemade vin de noix & clementine bitters) Dan Searing’s constant investigation into seldom used ingredients give his drinks a very unique quality. The vin de noix, the lighter sibling of the French walnut liqueur, liqueur de noix, accentuated not only the nuttiness of the rum’s oak, but its earthiness raised the already high funk indicative of most runs.
- Glenbranca: (Glenrothes single malt scotch, Carpano Antica vermouth, Fernet, Branca) Dan’s take on a very rich Rob Roy
- Old Ironside: (Chairman’s reserve rum, Dan’s liqueur 44, cane syrup) Liqueur 44 is a traditional European homemade liqueur made up of 44 coffee beans studded into an orange peel with 44 sugarcubes, sitting in spirit for 44 days. Chairman’s reserve rum is imported by dead prez super-fan, Clyde Davis. This would be a great digestif drink if I was digesting more than previous drinks
- Mandigo bitters: I don’t remember where Dan got these. They taste like a fruit punch campari.
- Aventinus Edelster: This is distilled wheat beer from the Aventinus brewery. That banana bread character is hefeweizen, but super focused.
- Water: but less so
Tuesday, May 4th
- Hidalgo la gitana manzanilla sherry: Manzanilla sherry is really great stuff if you are the type of person, as I am, that enjoys the taste of the ocean spray. It’s light, acidic & salty.
- Espresso Cortado: Made by the hands of the great symbionese liberation army r-eenactor, Patrick Owens (formerly of Bourbon)
- Cardenal Mendoza Solera Brandy: The Spanish brandies tend to be a bit sweeter than the French armagnacs & cognacs due to the inclusion of the richer sherry grapes: Oloroso & Pedro Ximenez
- Sparkling water: classy water
- Thelonious monk: (mezcal & avocado) Owen Thomson, at Bourbon for years, recently joined the staff Café Atlantico. Happily, I see him more often because of this. The smokiness & acid of the mezcal (in mescal, the agave hearts are roasted in pits prior to fermentation, giving the spirit a mesquite quality) does a nice job of breaking through the thickness of the avocado.
- Pisco sour: One of my all time favorites. On a related note, the place that turned me on to these was PX in Old Town Alexandria. I think Todd Thrasher views the pisco sour with a reverential awe. Also, Clinton Terry is just a sick, sick bartender & I always end up finishing a parade of cocktails.
and that’s that. Previously in the diary corner: