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Photos By Armando Gallardo, Words By Brandon Wetherbee

Best if: you like spicy drinks and you’re trying to change someone’s outlook.

China Chilcano

One of the biggest benefits of the Obama administration has been the family’s love of the D.C. dining scene. The President and First Lady eat in D.C. like regular D.C. citizens. The Obama’s had at least three dinners at José Andrés’ Oyamel and one at Minibar. They frequented, and will hopefully continue frequenting, the kind of restaurants you and I frequent. Maybe when they’re just regular citizens they’ll visit José Andrés’ China Chilcano. They may need a drink after next week.

China Chilcano is in the midst of Chilcano Week. Through January 22, the Peruvian/Asian/Spanise restaurant is showcasing the Peruvian pisco cocktail. Pisco’s are crowd pleasers. If you’re unfamiliar, they’re similar to Margaritas. Both drinks tend to be sweet, it’s easy to mask the alcohol, and are open for wild interpretations.

Two of the specialty, limited time only drinks are the emoliente and hibiscus. The emoliente has a unique aftertaste, somewhat unexpected but wholly welcome. It’s a cold drink that’s good for cold weather. It has a soft kick, but a kick nonetheless.


The hibiscus is pleasant and pretty and goes well with the restaurants Concha Dim Sum.


Some of the everyday chilcanos are more divisive and satisfying. The sour cherry is sweet but not sugary. It’s ideal for casual drinkers that may like the taste of alcohol.


We saved the reason to order a chilcano for last. The rocoto chilcano is why you go to a bar or restaurant. Rocoto is a South American pepper. If you’re not familiar with the pepper, the flavors are a surprise. Drinks like this are why eating out is rewarding. New flavors presented in familiar ways, it’s a chance to experience different cultures in a way that’s beneficial to all parties.

I may be waxing a little too poetic due to the time and place of this experience, but Andrés restaurants, food and drinks are making D.C. great. Regardless of your politics, you need to eat (no one needs to drink alcohol but it makes life better as long as you can do it in moderation) and drink. You have better experiences when you eat and drink new things. You may not like it all, but it leads to a greater understanding. But you already knew all that. Maybe you didn’t know about the current drink special. Now you do. And now maybe you have a place to take some of your family that may be headed to D.C. for some big event on the Mall on January 20. You don’t have to tell them why you’re taking them to a José Andrés restaurant, but you’re more likely to change their minds with food and drink than words.


China Chilcano, 418 7th St, NW, is open 7 days a week and takes reservations. Chilcano Week runs through January 22. During Chilcano Week, Chilcanos are $10 or $50 for a carafe.