Photos By Clarissa Villondo, Words By Brandon Wetherbee
The drinks at The Royal are pretty. Take an Instagram shot pretty. I rarely order a cocktail at the LeDroit Park restaurant. Maybe I should have more coffee meetings and fewer lunch dates.
Coffee Manager Jay Suh has added come caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages to make the convenient location even more appealing. Our favorite is the Open Sesame, a latté that made from sweetened black sesame paste made from ground sesame seeds, vanilla syrup, honey and steamed milk. Guess what I’m never going to attempt to make at home? Anything from sweetened black sesame paste. Suh has created a drink similar to his mother’s recipe. It’s as good as it looks.
The other new editions are also worthwhile, especially the Fall Spice Hot Chocolate, with torched marshmallows, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise, allspice, chili powder, cocoa powder, sugar, milk, and a cinnamon stick. If you have a chocolate craving, great. After tasting the Open Sesame, I wanted more black sesame flavors. I can find chocolate at home.
The Royal is the rare D.C. establishment that serves breakfast, lunch, dinners and cocktails. Anyone inclined can go for breakfast, stay for lunch, transition to happy hour and finish the day with dinner and drinks. Bar Manager Lee Carrell’s new additions compliment the fall flavors presented by Suh.
The cocktail list at The Royal should appeal to anyone that cares about mixology. But the real highlight is the house made amaro. New for fall is a house pumpkin amaro. Made with over 15 ingredients over 8 days, the powerful digestive is the star of the menu. Like Suh’s Open Sesame, I’m not going to find Carrell’s pumpkin amaro anywhere else.
When it comes to the cocktails, we really enjoyed the Old Nigel (Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, fennel liqueur, Cava, celery bitters, white pepper, lemon) and the Colombian Coffee. The Old Nigel isn’t really a fall drink – it’s an everyday drink and it happens to be fall so it’s on this list. On the other side of the spectrum is the Colombian Coffee. Made with Ron Medellin 8-year rum (distilled in Colombia), Counter Culture Coffee cold brew concentrate, and hand-whipped vanilla bean cream. The coffee doesn’t hide the rum but rather compliments. It’s a warm drink that benefits from cold weather, something you’ll want to consume during the next blizzard.
The Antioqueno Aguardiente, made with house apple cider, Four Roses bourbon, honey and spices, is another drink that makes cold weather warmer. The Newburn, a favorite from last year made with Monkey Shoulder scotch, tamarind, lemon, cinnamon and cardamom, over a large ice cube, returns for another year. It’s a critics favorite because it makes scotch more bearable.
If you’re looking for safe and Intagramable, order the Fall Spice Hot Chocolate and the Antioqueno Aguardiente. If you prefer to drink what you can’t drink at home, the Open Sesame and the pumpkin amaro are your new reasons to visit The Royal.
The Royal is at 501 Florida Ave. NW, open Sunday through Monday 8 a.m. to midnight, Tuesday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.