When Bourbon Steak opened its doors five years ago, the refined steakhouse brought not only classic American fare to Georgetown; it brought an innovative yet approachable beverage program to boot, which not only became a staple in the D.C. dining scene but a gold standard. Its signature drinks, both classic and modern, aim to educate guests as well as preserve the spirit and integrity of the cocktail.
In celebration of the restaurant’s anniversary, the bar at Bourbon is bringing back its favorite cocktails from the last five years (in bottled form, no less). We stopped by and chatted with Jamie MacBain and Duane Sylvestre, head bartenders of the establishment, to try a sip from some of their favorite cocktail creations of the last five years (and snag a recipe or two).
- The Jefferson
The Jefferson was first introduced onto the menu over four years ago, making it one one of the first cocktails MacBain added to the menu. It’s a rich, darkly sweet take on the Manhattan which fast became a staple on the House Cocktail menu.
2 oz Bulleit Bourbon (or any other dry 90 proof bourbon)
0.75 oz Carpano Antica
0.5 oz Creme de Mure (blackberry liqueur, not blackberry brandy)
1 dash Fee Bros. Old Fashioned bitters
1.) Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, stir until well chilled.
2.) Garnish with a lemon twist.
- Aku Aku Lapu
This Tiki-style cocktail is one of Sylvestre’s favorites and one tried, it’s clear why; the Lapu is, first and foremost, strikingly beautiful. An ice cone lends angles and color to an already bright drink, colored with fresh fruit juice. The sprigs of mint seem to overflow from the lip of the glass, transporting you to a much warmer climate. It’s bright, tropical and tart and adapted from a recipe from the early 1960s and truly, which generation would know tiki better?
1oz Mt Gay Black barrel
1oz Lemon Hart 151
1 oz Myers’
1oz pineapple juice
1oz fresh grapefruit
1oz fresh lime
1/2 oz fresh orange
1/4 oz cinnamon syrup
1.) Combine all ingredients, shake and strain over inverted cone.
2.) Garnish with Angostura and a mint sprig
The Skaal, which came onto the menu in winter of 2012, was born of a cocktail that MacBain created in Portland, Oregon. In its original form, this drink used a habanero vodka, cointreau, celery juice and lime juice but when he brought this savory-spicy concoction to Bourbon, he wanted to redo that with a twist. MacBain nods to the Skaal’s Portland roots with some Oregon aquavit, then added the spice element with the addition of the habanero cane syrup. The result is a surprisingly herbal and fresh cocktail with just the right tough of heat and a refreshing aftertaste.
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2oz fresh celery juice
1/2 oz housemade habanero cane syrup
Habanero Cane Syrup Procedure
1.) Create syrup using demerara sugar in a 2:1 ration or sugar: water.
2.) Boil the water. While it’s hot, steep four habaneros in syrup until desired spiciness is reached.
3.) Strain out the habaneros.
1.) Combine all ingredients, shake and double strain.
2.) Pour into a coupe rimmed with demerara sugar.
Today’s last stop on Bourbon’s anniversary list visits the Clergy, the mild, fresh cocktail from spring of 2013. Light citrus mingles with Cointreau, Earl Grey tea, soda and lime juice make it a very refreshing drink with an almost ambient citrus aftertaste.
1oz Earl Grey Tea, chilled
3/4oz fresh lime juice
2.5oz Fever Tree club soda
1.) Build all the ingredients in a glass with ice, stir to combine.
2.) Garnish with a grapefruit twist.